BLANCO COUNTY DISASTER RESPONSE GROUP (BCDRG)
| Current Status & Schedule
| Core Activities & What We Can Do
| Equipment & Supplies Needed
RECENT MISSIONS & SERVICES DELIVERED
FLU SHOT CLINIC - Johnson City,
November 7, 2008: In support of the Texas Dept of State Health Services, we
publicized, organized and administered a flu shot clinic that served 150 folks desiring
a flu shot (and other shots). County health nurses administered the shots
while our BCDRG staff set up the clinic and managed the flow of
patients, including screening them, coaching them on completion of
documentation, and controlling flow of patients through the process.
Click here for photo version of 7/3/07 Daily Tribune article re Granite Shoals Disaster Work.Summary Report, late 6/30/07, by George Barnette: We think things have settled down in Granite Shoals for the time being. It is still going to be busy, but we know the scope of the need and how we are going to address it, so now it's just a matter of doing it.
This morning we did the block-walk to survey the location and extent of damage for the City of Granite Shoals. Main thing we learned is that the problem is scattered but not as great as the city feared, which is just as valuable as discovering unexpected damage. Among the 40 (!) volunteers were represented, as you'd expect, Grace UMC in Granite Shoals, but also a couple of other Granite Shoals churches and 1st UMC in Marble Falls. We also had folks from UMCs in Blanco, Wimberley, San Antonio and Round Rock. Had a good delegation from Johnson City -- JoAnn Routh, Larry Martin, Nell Wimbish, Bunny Johnson, Bill Swiss, and Judy Baskin. Having so many volunteers meant everyone's territory was smaller, and that meant the canvassers were able to finish and go home by lunchtime.
The survey teams also made note of the degree of need at each damaged home, and found some where the need was severe and immediate. Two families immediately got in their cars and came to the church to talk to Pastor Cheri Brewster about their needs. A team from Wimberley found a family that had lost everything in the pantry to the flood, and couldn't afford a double grocery bill in one month. There was, literally, nothing to put on the table for lunch, and they already had missed breakfast. One of the Granite Shoals volunteers went home and looted her own pantry and the Wimberley crew went back with food to cover today's meals, and told them where they could get to a food bank tomorrow.
Mayor Frank Riley was delighted with the information, because not only did it tell him his problem was less than he feared, but now he has hard data to take to the county and state to begin getting relief flowing to the survivors.
Susan Hellums, the Southwest Texas Conference Disaster Response Coordinator and one of the UMC's chief disaster veterans, was there, too, watching the operation. She was much impressed by your work and was almost embarrassingly effusive in her praise. Such a damage and needs assessment is not something the church normally is asked to do, so we were sort of inventing the project as we went.
Jean and Bob Anderson were there, on telephone-answering duty in the church office. We had expected the phone to jump off the hook when the morning paper published the fact that the city had named Grace UMC the official flood relief information point for the city, but it was quiet. Actually, having people sitting by a quiet phone is not a waste of time, because otherwise the pastor would have to sit there, and this frees her to go work on the disaster. She has a volunteer from her own church to handle the weekday mornings now, and another has signed up for Monday afternoon. She thinks she'll need us for the other three afternoons next week (not the Wednesday holiday). I need two people for each afternoon, and have one for Thursday. Other slots are open.
On Monday (maybe Tuesday), the Early Response Teams will arrive to hit the flooded houses, hauling out wet carpet and furniture and picking up debris from the yard. Their first targets will be the homes identified by the canvass you did this morning. These teams have been through specific ERT training required for participation on the teams. For those interested, we'll be having ERT training coming up this summer in several places around Central Texas.
Also on Monday, Mobile Loaves and Fishes from Austin is expected to be in the church's kitchen, preparing meals for an estimated 100 people. That includes the kids on the school lunch program, who are normally fed by the church during the summer while school is out, plus the adults who need to be in their homes doing cleanup but who don't have food for themselves, nor in some cases any way to cook it.
By the time we get all that rolling, we should have a better handle on the needs in Marble Falls, and 1st UMC there should know more about what role they will play in their community's recovery. Stay tuned.
For a four-minute video on this week's work in Granite Shoals, go to http://umcswtx.org and click on "Flood Response Granite Shoals, click for Windows media player". It stars Gene Hileman, who headed the work team you see on camera. His supporting stars include Rev. Cheri Brewster.
Summary Report, early 6/30/07, by George Barnette: This will be short, but I wanted you to know what we were up to yesterday...a VERY full day.
With the passing of the rains in Gillespie County, we stood down as a potential American Red Cross shelter. Happily, the ARC delivered 16 cots and blankets for our shelter stash, so when we do have to open, the first 16 have a place to sleep.
In Burnet County, we had our first church-staff team in place in Grace UMC in Granite Shoals. Diane Beagle, Joy Feuge and Elizabeth Sooter answered the phones and helped with other operational tasks.
They said it was a slow day, and Pastor Cheri Brewster even sent them home early. That won't happen again. Today the newspaper will run a quarter-page ad announcing Grace UMC is Granite Shoals' official disaster aid information center, so the phones should be hopping from now on.
The City of Granite Shoals discovered Grace UMC as one of the few well-organized assets it had. Asking the church to handle citizen queries was the first step.
The second was asking the church to handle a survey of the community to find where flooding occurred and how bad it was, so they could map and estimate the degree of need, which would support their appeals for aid. Happily, the request came early enough in the day that we could reach many of our disaster response team members,. Also happily, we heard throughout the day from churches in the area that wanted to help, giving us another pool of volunteers. So at 9 this morning, "God's street-walkers" will hit the bricks in Granite Shoals to do the canvass.
Next week, the Early Response Teams from around the conference will arrive to begin helping residents clean out their flooded homes and begin the cleanup process. Today's canvass will help identify homes that need to be primary targets for the ERTs.
Also next week, it appears the Mobile Loaves and Fishes program from Austin churches -- which usually focuses on feeding the homeless -- will be in Granite Shoals to pick up the summer feeding program for children wh are on the school lunch program during the school year.
In the summer, Grace UMC and other churches deliver the meals provided from a central commissary in Marble Falls. With Marble Falls out of clean water, though, the commissary couldn't do food preparation, and the lunch program was suspended. The need of poor children didn't stop, though, and in fact was worsened by the destruction of flood-damaged food in many of their homes. So the Mobile Loaves and Fishes folks plan to pick up the slack if the commissary can't get up and running by Monday.
I should tell you that our disaster response team has attracted a lot of notice, both in Burnet County and among the UMC leadership around the conference. You're doing a terrific job, and are recognized as a valuable asset.
Summary Report, 6/28/07, by George Barnette: We are on alert by the ARC as a potential emergency shelter if the rains in Gillespie County require evacuations. That is increasingly unlikely; the rains have died out and the immediate hazard is passing. This is normal...we will be alerted more often than we'll actually need to open up. On the other hand, rain is forecast in the area for the next two weeks, so we may be alerted again before it's over, and may find ourselves either opening our own shelter or going to staff one elsewhere.
I spent much of the day in Burnet County with the pastors of the Granite Shoals and Marble Falls churches, helping get them on track to provide relief services to their communities. Neither church had damage. The needs in the communities, however, continue to grow as flooding continues.
We almost were asked to staff an impromptu shelter in Granite Shoals tonight. This afternoon, the city of GS discovered about 50 families in a low-lying and low-income area already had been cut off by flood water, which was still rising. They could extricate the residents, but had no local shelter, and with their cars already inundated, the residents had no transportation to the ARC shelter in Marble Falls.
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, and the church was used only as a bus station, where families waiting until church vans could pick them up and take them to the new shelter in Burnet (the ARC closed the one in MF because there was neither water nor sewage).
The GS pastor, who has no staff, took us up on our offer of teams to staff the church office. We'll provide teams of two or three to answer phones and such, freeing her to go do disaster relief. Joann took over the job of lining up teams and recruited Joy Feuge and Diane Beagle -- later joined by Elizabeth Sooter -- for Friday. She's still working on Saturday. Saturday we'll take a look at next week and see what the need looks like, but we can take volunteers if you're interested. This is the first outing for our church-office teams and our teams are the first ones we know of, so we're plowing new ground here.
While I was in Burnet County, Joann, with help from George Cofran, also handled the call from the ARC in Kerrville to be prepared to open our shelter. She even talked them into pre-positioning some more supplies here, which always is a good idea, because it puts us that much farther ahead the next time.
As is apparent, the situation is changing from one day to the next, and there is no sign that it is going to be any different at least through the middle of July. We appreciate your willingness to remain available for duty, and to step up on short notice. That's just how disaster response works. Stay tuned.
MARBLE FALLS FLOODING:
Summary Report, 6/26/07, by George Barnette: We did open FUMC church as a shelter at the request of the Blanco Sheriff's office. There were no evacuations, but some people were discovering as they got out on the roads that morning that they couldn't get through to their destinations, and might need a place to camp for an hour or two until the water went down. As it turned out, no one needed sheltering.
EAGLE PASS TORNADO DISASTER ASSISTANCE, MAY 2007:
George Barnette, on the right, on the scene, lending a hand.
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