Shelters need assistance Volunteers arriving from across the state

Published 5:07 pm Friday, September 20, 2019

By Van Wade and Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


Plenty of people have been displaced across Orange County after what Tropical Storm Imelda did to the area as many people are searching for shelter, food, and comfort.

Currently, North Orange Baptist Church, 4775 North 16th Street in Orange, is serving as a Red Cross Shelter to people flooded in the area as well as the Orange County Convention and Expo Center located on Farm to Market Road 1442 in Orange.

Most of the people at the shelter Friday were from homes flooded in Vidor.

They were getting a lot of supplies in on Friday but they still need a ton more.

Most families have been coming in wet with no clothes.

Items most needed at this time include hygiene items, snacks/drinks, pillows, blankets, and jogging pants.

There were several dogs being sheltered by their owners outside including brothers James Murray and Guy Matt from Vidor, who had their lovely dog Baby Girl just outside the church in a small animal cage container. Pets are not being sheltered at the Expo Center.

“She is definitely our sweet Baby Girl,” said Murray. “We’re so thankful that we were able to make it out of there. We’ve still got our family and that’s the most precious thing. It’s the second time in two years for us, Harvey got us last time two years ago. It’s just so crazy to see your stuff float down the road and you just feel powerless sometimes but we’ll make it.”

His brother, Guy, echoed the same sentiments.

“We live close to Vidor High School and we got over three feet this time, much more than we got when Harvey came through,” said Matt. “What matters is that our family is safe, you can always worry about possessions later. We’re so appreciative for the church and what the Red Cross is doing. We just need a lot of prayers for Vidor and the whole area.”

 An ambulance strike team from the San Antonio area headed, on Thursday, to Orange. They are among the first responders based at the Orange County Convention and Expo Center and working through the OC Emergency Operation Center. 

The strike team included units from Bexar County, Dist. 7 Fire and Rescue, San Antonio Fire Department, Community EMS, Hondo, Texas, Karnes County EMS, Kennedy, Texas and Acadian EMS.

Nearly 700 Entergy power restoration workers as well as airboats, high-water vehicles and drones to restore power. As of 9 a.m. Friday, Entergy Texas had restored more than half of the customers affected by Imelda’s torrential rainfall. Crews are working throughout the day to restore approximately 13,000 customers still without power. Floodwaters have begun to recede, but travel conditions remain difficult in some areas, which can slow the company’s efforts to move people and equipment around for restoration work.

Estimated times of restoration for all affected customers who can receive power is 8 p.m. Saturday, according to a press release.

“We’ve made great progress, but repairing Imelda’s damage will take some time in the heaviest flooded areas,” said Allen East, vice president of distribution for Entergy Texas, Inc. “In addition to the damage to the system, closed roads, traffic congestion and access to flooded areas could certainly slow our progress. We are committed to our customers and are working hard to get their power on just as safely and as quickly as we can.”

U.S. Congressmen Brian Babin (TX-36) and Randy Weber (TX-14) released the following statement after sending a joint letter to President Donald J. Trump requesting he immediately deliver a Federal Disaster Declaration to the regions of Southeast Texas impacted by Tropical Storm Imelda once in receipt of such a request.  

“Ensuring that the residents of Texas’s 36th Congressional District are safe and have access to the resources they need during and after this storm is my top priority at this time,” said Babin. “Tropical Storm Imelda gave our folks little to no time to prepare, especially for the amount of rainfall the region is currently receiving. Many are still recovering or had just recovered from Hurricane Harvey – which left utter destruction in its wake. Reports indicate that, in many areas, the damage Imelda is expected to leave will be worse than that left by Harvey. I pray that everyone remains safe, and please know that my office and I will continue working tirelessly to make sure our citizens have the necessities and assistance required to weather this storm. I have no doubt that President Trump will act swiftly to deliver a Federal Disaster Declaration once he receives a request from Governor Greg Abbott to do so.”

“Southeast Texans are once again facing life-threatening weather conditions – in some areas, the destruction is worse than Hurricane Harvey,” said Weber. “Our first priority must be to ensure residents have access to essential supplies and rescue services. A delay in issuing a Federal Disaster Declaration will inhibit access to life-saving federal resources. We are confident the Administration will work closely with the State of Texas to ensure the health and safety of our citizens.”

Rescues continued throughout Friday as residents saw rising waters again during the night.

“About 6:30 this morning, we received word water was over Park Street,” Pinehurst Fire Chief Shon Branham said. “Overnight the water rose. It was not this bad last night, and safety is our top priority.”

Firefighters spoke with residents in the affected area, rescuing the ones who needed or wanted to be rescued.