Saturday, September 13, 2008

Missionaries Return Home, Back to Work

Saturday, September 13, 2008
Texas McAllen Mission

To the Parents of Missionaries in the Texas McAllen Mission,

We are writing in concern of Hurricane Ike. As many of you have seen, the hurricane turned north of our mission towards the Houston area. All of our missionaries were well prepared for evacuation and for safety precautions some were evacuated, but we are happy to say that all of the missionaries have now returned home and are back to work. We experienced some minor rain, but there was no damage from the hurricane in our mission. Thank you for your prayers and concerns.

Kindest Regards,

President Gary F. Miller
Mission President

As Hurricane Ike continues its path across the Gulf of Mexico, representatives of the Church are planning ways to help. Church representatives have been asked by emergency management officials for the state of Texas to provide support. In fact, many relief supplies delivered by the Church are being stored in facilities managed by Texas authorities and in bishops’ storehouses. Church representatives continue to work with emergency management personnel to identify where help may be needed.
Emergency supplies are positioned in six different locations in the Gulf region and are ready for distribution to several thousand people. These supplies include truckloads of cleaning kits, hygiene kits, blankets, water and food. Small quantities of additional supplies such as sleeping bags, work gloves, chain saws, wheelbarrows, first aid kits, cots, tents and tarps are also on hand if needed. Additional truckloads of hygiene kits are currently being created in Salt Lake City today, many of which are being delivered to the Gulf region.
Following the storm, and after officials have authorized return to the area, the Church will offer support to local elected officials. “We have remarkably close relationships with those leaders. They are familiar with what the Church can do with our resources, manpower and commodities,” said Peter Evans of the Church’s Welfare Services Department.
Earlier this week and into today, volunteers are working at the Church’s Humanitarian Center in Salt Lake City assembling hygiene kits to replenish supplies being used in support of current disasters. At the bishops’ storehouse in Dallas, volunteers are busy today assembling 2,400 food boxes and will continue their efforts tomorrow. Each of the food boxes can feed a family of four for 10 days.

Ike is by no means the first hurricane the Church has responded to. For instance, the Church provided 200 semi-truck loads of aid and 42,000 man-days of labor in response to Hurricane Katrina. In recent days the Church has offered support to Hurricane Gustav response efforts as well. The Church humanitarian aid system is experienced and is well-equipped to respond to a variety of disasters, including hurricanes.

Saturday, September 13, 200
GALVESTON, Texas (CNN) -- Rescuers in Galveston, Texas, were going door-to-door Saturday to check on 20,000 people who failed to flee from Hurricane Ike -- which has slowed to tropical storm status.
President Bush declared 29 Texas counties a major disaster area, making federal funds available for recovery from the storm.
Ike was downgraded Saturday to a tropical storm 11 hours after it crashed ashore as a Texas-sized hurricane that walloped southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana.
The storm's sustained winds dropped to 60 mph as it moved north across Texas, expending its power along the way.
In the coastal city of Galveston, CNN affiliate KPRC showed workers checking homes where people who had ignored warnings to evacuate had subsequently begged 911 operators for help.
Three deaths in Texas have been attributed to the storm.
"The hotel we were in was rocking and windows blowing out," Mark Sudduth, of, told CNN.
"There was enormous wave action, the wind, the power outages, fires in the distance. It was everything that a Hollywood epic disaster movie would be made of, but for real," he said. Watch where the storm is now »
Houston Mayor Bill White told CNN that his city appears to have avoided loss of life, but streets blocked by floodwaters, downed trees and power lines hampered efforts to determine the full extent of the damage.
White advised residents to drink bottled or boiled tap water as a precaution after a power outage reduced water pressure, but he said nothing indicated that the water supply was contaminated.
In downtown Houston, streets were littered with debris, including traffic lights and glass. The city's tallest skyscraper, the 75-story JP Morgan Chase Tower, was missing many of its windows.
Nearly 2.6 million customers in Texas and Louisiana lack power because of Ike, the U.S. Energy Department said on Saturday. Watch an iReporter's firsthand account of the storm »
"It's going to take several weeks to get all this power restored," CenterPoint Energy spokesman Floyd LeBlanc said. "We've been saying two to three weeks."