Hurricane Ike Recovery Response

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Hurricane Ike was the third most destructive hurricane to make landfall in U.S. history with an estimated $22 billion in damages to Texas. Ike’s damage started September 12, 2008 with a 12 foot storm surge flooding 75% of Galveston Island and made landfall September 13. Hurricane Ike sustained winds (110mph) were considered a Category Two, only being one mile per hour from a Category Three (111mph). Ike’s storm surge was considered that of a Category Five. Texas Gulf Coastal Communities are devastated by the slow recovery process provided by the Federal Government.

FEMA’s (Federal Emergency Management Agency) response was slow in providing food, water, housing, and other necessities for victims. FEMA arrived two days after the hurricane with supplies. American Red Cross was first to respond in Galveston the day after Ike made landfall. Major damage to homes consisted of roof damage, flooding (up to six feet of water), sides of buildings crumbled, and entire homes destroyed. FEMA promised Texas 300 trailers per week for the worst hit areas being the first to receive them. After six weeks fewer than 200 trailers had been provided for Texas residents. Many people remained in tent communities waiting for a place to live. People were not willing to quit their jobs and relocate. As Galveston residents remained in San Antonio and Austin in shelters FEMA insisted apartments was available in the Houston/Galveston area. The few apartment vacancies in existence were too expensive for people to pay. The majority of the homeless left in these shelter were elderly people, women, and children having only a fixed or limited income. Galveston Mayor, Lyda Ann Thomas, pleaded with FEMA for 500 trailers for homeless Galveston residents only to receive 54 trailers six months later. FEMA refused to set up temporary mobile home parks because of their experience with Hurricane Katrina in Alabama and Louisiana. Temporary mobile home parks remained in these areas for over two years. FEMA’s response to Galveston Mayor was an immediate NO. The message Texas residents received from FEMA’s reaction was Texas would suffer for what happened in Louisiana and Alabama. FEMA admitted to being slow with their response and never giving an actual reason why until over a year later when other problems were in the works. Their reason being they were not equipped to handle housing for such a large disaster.

My residence at Ike’s arrival was Liberty, TX. Liberty is approximately 60 miles inland, northeast of Houston, TX. Liberty was under mandatory evacuation September 11 at 6pm with most people staying including myself. Liberty received major damage to homes and buildings also and power was out for seven days. The story remains the same concerning response; American Red Cross arrived the day after Ike and FEMA three days three days later. Homes in this area remain in need of repairs due to lack of funding and delays.

The battle with FEMA continued to grow as time passed. People who were fortunate enough to receive a trailer were being forced out by FEMA in December 2009, three months prior to the deadline. Going against FEMA regulations caseworkers took it upon themselves to give people a 72 hour eviction notice. Case workers began to threaten people, and even scare children in some cases reported. One case reported was by a woman with 7 children. FEMA caseworkers frightened her children to the point of not wanting to go to school for fear they would come home to find the trailer and all their possessions gone. FEMA caseworkers arrived again three days later knocking on doors and windows. The frightened woman ran crying and hid in her bathroom while calling RISE (Recovery for Ike Survivors Enterprise) for help. Three caseworkers from RISE responded immediately and confronted FEMA caseworkers about the problem. The end results was FEMA contributed $1,000 toward the purchase of the trailer...
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