Thursday, December 16, 2010

Where has the time gone?

Bishop Doyle
December 16? Really? Its been a great year, but does it have to end so soon?

2010 offered TEDRD lots of surprises and good times. To close out the year, we'll be posting about some of the memorable moments of 2010.

We started off with a bang in January with groups from Grapevine Presbyterian and Franklin & Marshall. Both had come to help before and both will be coming back in 2011. What a great group. It got a little crowded, but we managed.

But the big event came when Bishop Doyle visited Galveston to tour some churches as well as the homes were were working on. After visiting Ms. Marsha's house as F&M worked away, Bishop Doyle volunteered to offer the house blessing at the completion of the project.

That first week in January also marked Nikki's first day as an intern. She stuck around for a record 7 straight months. We also started the very successful partnership with Disney's Give a Day, Get a Day program.

January 2011 looks to be even more exciting as we entertain the Presiding Bishop and celebrate our final month of volunteer labor. We hope you're ready!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Presiding Bishop to Visit Galveston!

So, the BIG news of the week in Galveston is that Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church Katherine Jefferts Schori will be visiting in January!

The exact details are not known right now, but we wanted to share this exciting news with all of you! Check back for updates on her visit. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holiday Season

We're back from Thanksgiving and working hard again. Our jobs feel even more important during this time of the year as our homeowners long to be home with family during the holidays.

We have just a couple more months left in our project which has been so instrumental in helping over 150 homeowners. We want to help as many people as possible before our grand exit at the end of January. Can you donate today to help us finish strong?

Donate here

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hurricane Season Ending, But...

By Carolyn Jo Gibbs

Residents of the Gulf Coast can certainly be grateful for one thing this Thanksgiving: the end of another hurricane season. And while the 2010 Atlantic storm season lived up to the foreboding predictions of experts, with 19 named storms and12 hurricanes (five of which were classified as “major”), most of us never got a chance to utilize the plans and preparations we put into place last spring.

Yet as we breathe a sigh of relief and look forward to the holidays, our opportunity to prepare for emergencies presses on. The end of hurricane season marks the beginning of winter in Texas, with its occasional freezing temperatures, ice storms, and even a snowflake or two. These events, standard procedure for other areas of the country, can be devastating here, where many communities lack the systems and knowledge to adequately respond.

Additionally, as furnaces burst to life to ward off the chill and as we gather together indoors to enjoy their warmth, the likelihood of fires and illness increase. Not to mention those events that can affect communities at any time of the year: technological outages, transportation disasters, and chemical spills, to name a few.

With all this to consider, it seems that the work of a prepared person is never really done. As one threat passes behind us, others stand ready to take its place, each requiring unique action. No matter what the season, the beginning steps to becoming prepared are the same: examine your risks, find out how to prepare for them, create a plan, and review it often.

We can even use these varying risks to our advantage. To prepare for everything, all at once, would prove a daunting and expensive task; when we turn preparedness into a year-round activity, it becomes more manageable.

Preparing for winter weather, for example, might involve keeping our fuel tanks more than 25% full, having adequate food and medicine stored at home in case we are unable to travel for necessities, keeping flashlights, candles, and warm blankets ready for power outages, and testing fire alarms throughout your home and church.

Many of these tasks might have already been completed as we considered other risks such as hurricanes or chemical disasters, though food, bottled water, and other items with expiration dates should be checked regularly to ensure that they are usable.

Whether your goal is to build an emergency kit from scratch or to restock, consider making a list, and then picking up a couple of items each time you make a regular trip to the store. Test fire and emergency exits each time you clean, and gather flashlights and candles in locations easy to find without the aid of electricity.

Preparedness requires thinking ahead, not only to our immediate threats, but those that could happen even months down the road. Yet when we make preparedness part of our regular routine, we won’t be caught off guard. And that’s just one more thing to be thankful for.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Can You Help?

TEDRD has now worked on 175 homes in Galveston and La Porte, TX. 50 homeowners have received partial or total repairs.

With the exit of other rebuild organizations from Galveston, TEDRD will be the last full service rebuild organization left in Galveston in 2011. We want to make sure we are able to help as many homeowners before we are finished.

Can you donate today?

These homeowners are people like Mr. Keyes, an 83-year-old WWII veteran who takes care of his 59-year-old daughter who has brain damage.

Or Mr. Rodgers, who lost his leg to infection after the storm in addition to losing his wife to alzheimer's disease. He now builds cabinets for our projects.

Or Ms. Marsha, who helped others return home after the storm while her own house was in disrepair.

Can you help people like them?

Our homeowners are nurses, teachers, tradesmen, retirees, veterans, librarians, and writers. Many of them lost everything in the storm.

They are people that keep this community moving. They are mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. And although most of them are reluctant to ask for help, we want to be there to give them some peace.

Can you donate for the displaced Galvestonians?

Please donate today or plan a volunteer trip in November or December. We'd love to have your help!

Peace be with you,


Luke Blount
Volunteer Coordinator

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

$15 For the Finish

Thank you for your continued support of Texas Episcopal Disaster Relief and Development. We are approaching the end of our journey in Galveston, and we need your help now more than ever!

Can you spare $15 or more to help us finish strong? Just $15 from everyone would pay for all the materials to move two more homeowners back home! Click Here to Donate or send checks to 427 Market St. Galveston, Tx 77550. Make checks payable to the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, and write "Hurricane Ike Relief" in the memo line. Or send us Home Depot gift cards!

It looks as if we will be the last full service relief organization working in Galveston, and we want to help as many homeowners as possible before we begin our wrap up in February 2011.

Also, please consider volunteering with us this November and December. Our schedule is almost empty! Help us get as many families home as possible!

Email or call Luke at and 713.252.9693 if you're interested in making a trip!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Volunteer Spotlight: LTC

Beginning in January of this year, Larry Hagan of Texas City has visited TEDRD every week to lend a hand and help us rebuild homes in Galveston.

Larry, or LTC as we call him, has been essential to the success of TEDRD. He is skilled in many areas of construction, but most importantly he offers our staff and volunteers his wisdom and positive attitude on the jobsite.

Every Wednesday, we plan special projects for Larry. Most of the time it is not glamorous work, but Larry takes it in stride.

Larry is a caretaker at heart. Outside of TEDRD, Larry spends much of his time caring for his family members. But we're glad he finds some time to take care of us and our homeowners as well.

Thanks, Larry! You're an inspiration to us all.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Back Again

St. Matthew's - Austin has returned for what we think is the 5th time! Its always great to have these guys around. Not only do they help us out on site, but they usually fix a few things in our office too.

This week, they should be finishing up Henry's house and starting a couple new projects. The group arrived around noon on Monday and were ready to start working. They will be here through Friday morning and then head back to Austin.

Thanks St. Matt's! Always a pleasure to see you in Galveston!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

We Need Your Photos!

Do you have pictures from your trip to Galveston?

You know, the ones with your team standing around for the proverbial group shot. Or just a few of you and your friends having fun.

Send them to us at

We are in the process of making a video and we want your photos to add to our collection.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gerald Officially Moves Home

After his home blessing last week, and a few final touches, Gerald is now officially home. Maggie gave him his keys this afternoon.

Gerald is extremely grateful for all the work done by volunteers and staff. And he is especially thankful that someone found his "Joy of Cooking" cookbook. Now, he says, his son can come down and cook with him, which is something he has been unable to do for two years. His daughter is also very excited about her bright green room.

Below are a couple before and after shots. Visit to view more.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Where has the time gone?

We're approaching the end of September. Can you believe it? It seems like we just started summer!

At least October will bring some great weather. Locals in Galveston claim it is the best month of the year. So why don't you come down and visit us? Take a break, sit on the beach... and work hard all day helping move a displaced homeowner back home! Its so rewarding.

Come to Galveston soon!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Pair of Blessings

Monday, in recognition of the anniversary of Hurricane Ike, TEDRD held 2 house blessings for homeowners Henry and Gerald.
After a hard days work by volunteers, everyone gathered to bless the homes that are almost completed.

First, Henry's home was blessed by Father Paul Wehner of Grace Episcopal, Galveston. Then everyone headed over to Gerald's house to offer his home a blessing as well.

Both homeowners were very thankful to all of the volunteers and staff that worked to get their homes finished. It has been over 2 years since either of these men have been able to return home, but their time has finally come.

More photos can be seen on Facebook!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Working Away

After a short break, TEDRD has been back in force for 2 weeks now, working on several homes in Galveston. Last week, ALERT Academy joined us for a solid week of work. And this week, St. Mary's - Cypress has been working hard. Thanks guys!

Don't forget about our September 13th Ike Anniversary Celebration of Progress. We'll be working from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Then we will start 2 house blessings!

Hope you can make it!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Come Celebrate Our Progress!

September 13, 2010 will mark the 2nd anniversary of Hurricane Ike's impact in Galveston. Though the memories are horrendous for Galvestonians, we want to take time to remember the progress that has been made.

This year, we want to celebrate the rebirth of Galveston by volunteering for a day and blessing 2 homes! The staff of The Episcopal Diocese of Texas is invited to take a day off from regular work to participate! TEDRD's board of directors and staff will also be working. Everyone else is also welcome to come as well. And bring family and friends!

Just be sure to contact Luke to let him know you are coming!

We will be starting the third year of recovery by repairing even more homes on the island. Come join us and celebrate the progress we have made!

Luke's contact info: 713.252.9693 or

WHEN: September 13, 2010

WHERE: Galveston, meet at the William Temple Episcopal Center located at 427 Market St. Galveston, Tx 77550

TIME: Show up to volunteer at 8:30 a.m. House blessings to begin at 4:00p.m.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Message From Carolyn

Friday is my last day as the Preparedness & Planning Coordinator with Texas Episcopal Disaster Relief and Development. As a long-term volunteer through the AmeriCorps* VISTA program, we knew that my work with TEDRD would be completed this fall, though it is hard to believe that the end is now so near.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve with TEDRD, and I have gained an invaluable amount of knowledge and experience over the last year. I’d like to take one last opportunity to share some of that knowledge with you:

1) Preparedness isn’t easy. For churches and families alike, there’s a lot to consider while creating an emergency plan. Not only that, but making preparations is often expensive as we begin to stock up on necessities or take precautions to prevent damage.


2) Preparing for emergencies is still one of the most important things we can do. Every step, every precaution we take is one more thing that could prevent damage or injury. Few people are ever sorry for being prepared; to not be ready is a story tainted with regret that has been told countless times.

To help make preparing your church easier, our Parish Emergency Planning guide is available for download at Print this useful workbook, and utilize it for your own benefit.

Though we are already well into hurricane season, and even in the midst of the two historically most active months, it is not too late to begin. Everything you do today will make a difference when that storm, flood, or fire comes.

Thank you for a great year; I hope that my work here will continue to benefit your churches for years to come.

For families that want to prepare visit:

Monday, August 9, 2010

Finishing Summer, Finishing Projects

We're working hard in the next couple weeks to finish some projects before a brief vacation.

Saturday we had a great crew from Smith International in Houston help us out along with a youth group from Webster Presbyterian. The Smith crew was filled with engineers that were of great help and the youth worked their tails off in the hot sun.

This week we have the May family visiting from the Chicago area helping us out. We hope to get a couple more people back home in the next month!

Thanks everyone for your help!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

New England Lends a Hand

This week, we have a group from Christ Church of Needham, Massachusetts. They have already done a ton of work and will continue throughout the week.

Although they are from a much cooler part of the country, they aren't backing away from the heat. It may be one of the hottest weeks of the year, but they are working through it!

Also, we had the Chafizadeh family visit us this week. They heard about us through the Hewlett family that visited earlier this summer. Thanks Hewletts for spreading the word! And thanks Chafizadehs for making the trip!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Ms. Williams' Room Just About Done

Ms. Williams bedroom was in incredible disrepair when we started working on it at the beginning of this summer. But after some love and care, blood and sweat (literally) from our volunteers and staff, she has a beautful new room.

Below are before and after shots of her room. Thanks to everyone for your help! It looks spectacular!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Garcias and Camposes Moving Home!

Thanks to some incredible work from many, many volunteers, the Garcias and Camposes will soon move home.

The homes were both flooded when Offats Bayou topped its banks, and in just a few weeks time, volunteers have restored the damage.

Photos can be found on Facebook at Both families hopefully should move in this week!

Thanks to everyone who helped out! You guys really made a difference.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Summer Crews Getting It Done!

Last week, we enjoyed the services of three different youth groups. We had the help of St. Matt's - Austin, Emmanuel - San Angelo, and of course, the Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp.

These guys were terrific, and helped us on several sites. Thanks to their help, we are getting very close to moving the Campos and Garcia families home. And its exciting!

All three of these groups have made visits to Galveston before, so it was great to see familiar faces. Thanks guys! You all did a great job!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Help Us This Fall!

Our volunteer load looks like it is going to drop off significantly this Fall, but we still need YOU. If you can help us this Fall, and especially in September, contact Luke at or 713.252.9693.

If you can't help, call a friend to spread the word, or put out a tweet or facebook update about TEDRD. We really need more volunteers to make the most of our time left in Galveston.

We're relying on YOU to spread the word! Let everyone know they can come enjoy the beaches of Galveston and help some hurricane victims in the process!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Woodlands Community Church Helps Out All Week

A group from the Woodlands Community Church came down last week, and stayed all week helping us finish up the Garcia home. They learned many new things in an effort to get the Garcias a home that they could live in.

The group of five people was great to work with, and we hope to see them again in the future.

Thanks, WCC!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Rainbow Trail makes first trip of the summer

Rainbow Trail Lutheran Camp made their first trip of many to Galveston this past week and it was a blast!

The group from Colorado worked hard on a few different projects over the week and got a ton of work done. Thanks to some diligent work and good attitudes, we may be able to finish the Garcia home this week.

It was great to work with these folks, and we look forward to seeing more groups come through over the summer!

Thanks Rainbow Trail!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Alex Soaks Texas

Hurricane Alex narrowly missed making the first U.S. landfall this season. Still, the affects of the storm can be felt through the Gulf Coast as Texas and Louisiana see flood conditions and south Texas even suffered from tropical storm force winds.

TEDRD was prepared to react to this storm both with pastoral care and gutting of damaged homes. Thankfully, it doesn't look like our services are needed in Texas.

However, this storm helped us all get prepared even further for this hurricane season. This was just the first named storm of any kind in the Atlantic, and it was a hurricane! Make sure your family and your parish has a disaster plan. It will save you a lot of grief.
Anxiety levels are high along the coast as the hurricane season continues to fold out. As for now, we'll work through the rain and hope for enough clear skies for a few fireworks on Sunday!

Happy 4th of July weekend to all of you out there!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season: Alex

Early this weekend, Tropical Depression One, then located south of Cuba, developed into the first named storm of the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season, Tropical Storm Alex.

Now moving across the Yucatan Peninsula in southern Mexico, it has weakened back into a tropical depression, but is expected to strengthen as it moves away from land and into the Gulf of Mexico.

Yesterday, most forecasters predicted the storm would make landfall somewhere along Mexico's more northern coastline. Today, expectations are shifting. Below is a screenshot from a tracking map at Weather Underground:

 (Click the image to view it larger.)

The lines protruding from the storm's current location are computer models predicting possible paths the storm may take. Even ignoring the lines associated with Hurricane Darby in the lower left-hand corner, it is clear that we have absolutely no idea what this storm is going to do.

It is too early to make accurate predictions; the map has completely shifted in the past 48 hours. Depending on where it hits, the storm should make landfall again in the next 3-7 days, but we don't know yet what strength it will be.

Thus, those living on the Gulf Coast should take the appropriate precautions. Stock up on food and water, keep at least half a tank of gasoline in your car, and move or secure loose objects, such as lawn chairs and plants, outside your home. It is better to assume we'll be affected than to be caught off guard by an approaching storm.

Track the storm's movements and stay up-to-date on forecasted activity by visiting The National Hurricane Center's website at There you will find public advisories, maps, and other information regarding this and other developments in the Atlantic (and the Pacific).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cooler People Trained

Texas Episcopal Disaster Relief and Development held the first training of Emergency Spiritual Care Teams on June 11-12.

The training, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the Episcopal Church, marked a significant step in The Episcopal Diocese of Texas' commitment to emergency preparedness and response.

Teams of spiritual care workers are now on call across The Episcopal Diocese of Texas. In the event of a disaster, these specially trained individuals will respond and offer spiritual care to those affected. The spiritual care teams are nicknamed “Cooler People” because they will be equipped with coolers in order to offer cold drinks to disaster survivors.

Episcopal Relief & Development sponsored the training held at Camp Allen, and they plan to use the training as pilot program for future endeavors across the country.

“The disaster response training was a milestone for Episcopal Relief & Development’s Disaster Preparedness Initiative,” said Katie Mears, manager of USA Disaster Preparedness and Response for Episcopal Relief and Development. “By holding the first regional response training, the Diocese of Texas has piloted for us how this process can work—from bringing together leaders to create a response plan, identifying local leaders to be trained and bringing together neighboring dioceses to share their experiences and learn together.”

Participants learned strategies and plans that will allow them to serve affected communities in the event of a disaster. Archdeacon Russ Oechsel and Rev. Gill Keyworth will act as the Diocesan Emergency Response Coordinators in the event of a deployment of the “Cooler People”.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am that we have this aspect of preparedness nailed down with a great beginning,” said Oechsel.

The formation of the Emergency Spiritual Care Teams comes after months of planning among TEDRD’s board. Carolyn Gibbs, Preparedness and Planning Coordinator, organized the original training and Oechsel and Keyworth will direct the program.

“This training was essential to be truly prepared in the event of a disaster,” said Gibbs. “Of course, we hope we don’t have to deploy the ‘Cooler People’, but I’m glad that we are ready to respond.”

These “Cooler People” will help to support local parishes in their response to their community. By bringing in outside spiritual care assistance, local affected clergy and lay persons can focus on their parish and personal recovery without ignoring the larger community.

In addition to having new and stable repair and rebuild model with TEDRD, The Episcopal Diocese of Texas can now respond conscientiously to the spiritual needs of those affected by a disaster.

Representatives from Fort Worth, Louisiana, and Mississippi also attended the training with the intent of sharing the new spiritual care approach in their own diocese.

“I hope the skills the leaders learned at this training will enable the Episcopal Church in Texas, as well as in Louisiana, Mississippi, to serve their neighbors during this hurricane season,” said Mears.

Leaders in The Episcopal Diocese of Texas offered support from the inception of the “Cooler People” concept, and they were instrumental in the execution of the first training.

“Thanks to the direction and support of Bishop Doyle, the management and service of our deacons, and the dedication of our coordinators, and ERD, we now have trained Spiritual Care teams and a plan for deployment,” said TEDRD board member, Rev. Lillian Hyde. “I am more than pleased. Many thanks to everyone who made it possible.”

Tyler and Mt. Pleasant Make Impact

Presbyterians from FPC Tyler and FPC Mt. Pleasant came to Galveston this week to help out in the relief effort. Group leader Neil McKown brought 35 youth and adults to work on several projects for us.

We're so thankful for all of the work that they put in over the past 4 days. From sheetrocking and mudding to painting and staining, this group helped us out in a variety of ways.

Thanks guys! We hope to see you again in the future! Check out our Facebook page for more photos of this group working hard.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer Youth Trips Begin

The summer of youth has begun as TEDRD moves into what should be the most productive three months in our history. Operating with 7 crew chiefs, along with Gary, the construction manager, TEDRD has an increased capacity for volunteers this summer.

This week we have groups from First Presbyterian -Grapevine, St. Thomas - Houston, and St. Stephen's - Beaumont. There are a total of 40 volunteers working on several projects this week, and the volunteers will continue to come in throughout the summer.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Cooler People Training at Camp Allen

I'm typing this from Camp Allen, where "Cooler People" training is currently going on. "Cooler People" refers to a group of volunteers that will respond to natural and man-made disasters with pastoral care.

This is a huge step for TEDRD, The Episcopal Diocese of Texas, and the Episcopal Church in general. Episcopalians in Texas are venturing into new territory as we prepare for future disasters.

The reason these folks are called "Cooler People" is because they will travel with drinks in a cooler to offer to people in communities and open lines of communication for pastoral care.

So far the training is going great, and great ideas are being offered by everyone!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

2010 Hurricane Season: 10 Steps for Survival, a website for the daily newspaper of Houma, LA, posted an excellent article detailing ten essential steps to help you survive the next hurricane.

The list includes:

1. Create a plan and practice.
2. Buy flood insurance and review.
3. Make a supply kit now.
4. Leave early and monitor media.
5. Plan for special-needs family members.
6. Plan for pets.
7. Protect your valuables, keepsakes, and documents.
8. Start saving money for storm-related expenses.
9. Prepare your home and property now.
10. Plan for communication.


Monday, May 31, 2010

Diocesan Emergency Preparedness Month: Hurricanes

In a little over an hour, Diocesan Preparedness Month will come to a close, and the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season will begin. If you haven't already seen them, the predictions for this year are ominous, with experts at Colorado State University calling it "a hell of a year." Even more, with the oil that is pouring into the Gulf at a rate of 12,000 to 19,000 barrels each day, even greater disaster could be looming.

Whether you live on the coast and are forced to evacuate, or you live in a town that welcomes and shelters these evacuees, you must be ready for hurricane season. No area of Texas remains untouched by these devastating storms, as was proven in 2005, with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and again in 2008, with Dolly, Ike, and Gustav.

As we've been saying all month long, preparations save lives, maybe even yours. Preparing for hurricanes on the coast means stocking up on essential foods and water, keeping your vehicle gas tank more than a quarter full at all times, cutting boards to protect your windows, and even simply keeping your insurance up to date. For those further inland, it may mean stocking up on food and water so that you have it when local stores sell out, and being ready to welcome strangers into your community.

Based on the predictions of experts, we at TEDRD believe that there will be at least one evacuation affecting the Texas Gulf Coast within the Episcopal Diocese of Texas this year. At least. We can't afford to be unprepared; let's get ready today.

Links to help you prepare:

Texas Extension Disaster Education Network
Texas Department of Emergency Management
Texas Department of Transportation

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Diocesan Preparedness Month: Church Preparedness

Over the last few weeks, TEDRD has sponsored Parish Emergency Planning Workshops in three areas across the Diocese. These events were an opportunity to learn about preparing our churches for disasters and to share suggestions and experiences.

We'd like to offer a big "Thank You!" to the churches that participated in the workshops held in Austin, Houston, and Lufkin:

Christ Church, Nacogdoches
Church of the Redeemer, Houston
Emmanuel, Houston
Epiphany, Burnet
Epiphany, Houston
Good Shepherd, Friendswood
Good Shepherd, Kingwood
Grace, Houston
Holy Comforter, Angleton
Holy Spirit, Waco
St. Andrew's, Pearland
St. Barnabas, Houston
St. Bartholomew's, Hempstead
St. Christopher's, Houston
St. Cyprian's, Lufkin
St. John's, Houston
St. Luke's, Livingston
St. Mark's Richmond
St. Matthew's, Austin
St. Matthew's, Henderson
St. Paul's, Woodville
St. Philip's, Palestine
St. Richard's, Round Rock
St. Thomas, Houston
Trinity, Anahuac
Trinity, Marshall

We are very grateful also for the congregations of St. Michael's, Austin; Emmanuel, Houston; and St. Cyprian's, Lufkin, who allowed us to use their facilities and equipment, and even provided snacks/meals for our participants!

Even if you were unable to attend these workshops, resources are available to assist you in building an emergency plan to fit your congregation.

Texas Episcopal Disaster Relief and Development has published a guide called "Parish Emergency Planning," created specifically for Episcopal churches of the Diocese of Texas, though the information could be easily translated to fit any church of any denomination.

Available for download at, the guide presents emergency planning in a simple, easy-to-use workbook format.

Download the guide and start planning today; you never know when disaster may strike.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

More Houses Finishing Up

May has been a little bit slower with volunteers as we ramp up for a very busy summer. However, we will still be finishing up a few projects in the next couple weeks.

Ms. Sharon's home on Sealy St. will be finished soon. Crew Chief Alison is working hard to put the finishing touches on the home asap. It is already looking like a beautiful place to live. Our volunteers and staff have really done an incredible job

Additionally, Ms. Brenda's home on Ave. T will also be finished soon as well as Ms. Sybil's home on Austin Dr.

Relief Coordinator Maggie has been picking up new projects to get started this summer and it looks like we have plenty of work for many months. Let us know if you'd like to help!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Diocesan Preparedness Month: How To Prepare for Special Needs

By definition, crises are events outside of the normal human experience. Interrupting the established routines of our lives, they often remove the systems we typically rely on to get through our day.

For many of us, the loss is inconvenient, but not insurmountable. For persons with special needs, it could prove devastating and even life-threatening.

In the disaster world, a special need is any limitation on a person's ability to effectively handle and survive a crisis situation.

Special needs include, but are not limited to:
  • Physical restrictions.
  • Medical concerns.
  • Communication abilities.
  • Lack of transportation.
  • Limited financial ability to evacuate or prepare for emergencies.
Special needs may be as simple as needing daily medications (which may not be available for refill in an emergency) or as complex as being bound to a wheelchair while living in a top-floor apartment (how will you evacuate in a fire, or if the electricity is out?).

The Emergency Management Ontario and the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario, Canada have developed an excellent resource for persons with special needs to begin planning for and considering their unique situation in emergencies. The guide is available for download in seven (yes, seven!) languages (English, French, Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, Punjabi, and Spanish), and offers excellent tips and instructions for persons with special needs.

Download the guide here:

Additional Note: While full of excellent information, the resources listed in the guide are specific to residents of Ontario. For transportation and other special needs assistance in Texas, dial 2-1-1 from any touch-tone phone. This free phone call can help connect you to local services and organizations. In addition, download information from the Texas Department of Emergency Management at

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Diocesan Preparedness Month: Turn Around, Don't Drown

If you're not a Texas native, you may have only heard stories about the floods that have wreaked havoc on some of our biggest cities over the years. Type "Austin flood" or "Houston flood" into any websearch, and you're bound to find a wealth of news stories, photos, and even tall tales about these watery events.

About a year ago, I got a small taste of Houston's floods. Traveling into the city from Albuquerque, New Mexico, our plane circled the city several times before landing at Bush Intercontinental Airport. We were headed for Hobby Airport, but rain and flood waters prevented us from landing there. Of course, we didn't get off the plane at Bush, and I might be one of the very few people in the world who have traveled from one Houston airport to another via a commercial flight. Leaving the airport that night, I drove through as much as six inches of moving water. I knew very little about floods at the time, and just plowed through, sticking to the shallowest areas, and praying that I'd be safe.

I do not recommend that you do likewise.

A common phrase in flood-prone areas of Texas is "Turn around, don't drown." According to the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes ("FLASH"), the majority of flood deaths occur when people become trapped in cars stalled in flood waters.

Turn around, don't drown means to never drive through standing or moving water.

Water is amazingly deceptive. Even the clearest blue ocean throws our normal depth perception askew. Floods are no different; they hide the dips and ditches of the road, the depths of which may surprise us and put us in danger of stalling, damaging our cars, or drowning.

Low levels of moving water can damage roads; a couple of feet is enough to float your vehicle away, with you in it.

Always find alternate routes around flooded areas, or (better yet) avoid driving in floods at all. If you are in your vehicle and are caught in a flash flood, seek shelter in or on a stable structure immediately. Move to high ground, or to the highest point in a building that you can get to.

Turn around; don't drown. It truly could save your life.

For more information, visit the National Weather Service's "Turn Around Don't Drown" webpage.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Diocesan Preparedness Month: Creating Safe Spaces

In the house I grew up in, there were three trees in our front yard. They were old and not extremely healthy, often dropping large, dead branches in thunderstorms, but my dad refused to cut them down. Our house sat on a busy local highway, and those trees created a barrier between the road and our front door.

The trees served other purposes as well, including being a meeting point for my family in the case of a house fire. My mother, ever cautious about what tragedies could befall her home, taught us at early ages how to break a window properly to ensure a safe escape, and where to meet for a head count.

Every family should identify a similar meeting place in their neighborhood. In addition, two other meeting places can prove helpful in an emergency: 1) Outside the neighborhood, but in town; and 2) Outside of town.

A location in the neighborhood gives your family a place to go in a fire or other emergency isolated to your house or building. It should be close to the home, but far enough away from potential flames and other dangers to keep the members of your family out of harm's way. Locate this safe spot as a family, and practice going there regularly.

For a tornado, flood, or other disaster that compromises your home and your neighborhood, find a second meeting place in or near your town. Emergency shelters can serve as a good point for these types of emergencies, as they are often determined well in advance of a disaster by your local emergency management agency, and will be the place you are directed or taken to in these events. If there is more than one shelter, pick one to go to, know how to identify it to rescuers, and travel to it as a family so that you become familiar with the location and how to get there.

Finally, find an out-of-town friend or family member to call or go to if a disaster forces you out of your home and your community. Teach their phone number to all family numbers (don't just put it in your cell phone and forget it!), and memorize their address as well. Even if you can't get there, teach your family members how to check in with this friend, identifying each family member's location and status, in order to ensure that everyone is accounted for in an large-scale disaster.

Not only will these steps ease your mind in an emergency, but they will also prevent needless endangerment to rescue workers. If we don't know our family is safe, we may request action of these public servants, sending them into dangerous situations to rescue a person they won't find. Building the trust that our family will follow protocol in an emergency allows us to accurately sound the alarm if someone is missing, helping to ensure a swift rescue.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Diocesan Preparedness Month: How to Make an Emergency Kit

(If Jamie Lee Curtis isn't your style, check out a similar video featuring Wyclef Jean.)

The American Red Cross, a renowned member of the disaster preparedness and response community, recommends that you include a minimum of the following items in your disaster supply kit:

  • Water—one gallon per person, per day (3­day supply for evacuation, 2­week supply for home)
  • Food—non­perishable, easy­to­prepare items (3­day supply for evacuation, 2­week supply for home)
  • Flashlight
  • Battery­powered or hand­crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications (7­day supply) and medical items
  • Multi­purpose tool
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • Map(s) of the area

Each family should examine their daily needs and the risks affecting their communities, and pack appropriately. These extra items may include:
  • Medical supplies (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Games and activities for children
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  • Two­way radios
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys
  • Manual can opener
  • Whistle
  • N95 or surgical masks
  • Matches
  • Rain gear
  • Towels
  • Work gloves
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Household liquid bleach
  • Entertainment items
  • Blankets or sleeping bags

For more on completing a disaster kit and preparing your home, family, or business for emergencies, visit!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Reprinted From: Episcopal Relief & Development

Torrential rains in the Tennessee area over the weekend have resulted in flooding of Nashville and many other parts of the state. Thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes and hundreds were rescued by boat. The flooding has claimed at least 21 lives in Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky, with Tennessee being the hardest hit.

In the wake of this disaster, Episcopal Relief & Development has reached out to the Episcopal Diocese of Tennessee to offer assistance. The Rt. Rev. John C. Bauerschmidt, Bishop of Tennessee, has confirmed the death of two parishoners from St. George’s Church in Nashville and reported that significant damage has been caused at St. George’s, All Saints’ Church in Smyrna and other diocesan institutions. Diocesan offices are currently closed.

Episcopal Relief & Development will work closely with the diocese to provide assistance in the aftermath of the flooding. Please keep all those affected in your prayers. If you would like to make a donation, click here and select the Disaster Response Fund.

For updates on the situation in Tennessee from Bishop Bauerschmidt, please visit the Bishop’s Forum section of the diocese’s website.

For more information on Episcopal Relief & Development's response to this and other disasters, including the January 12th earthquake in Haiti, visit

Diocesan Preparedness Month: Stock Up on the Basics (Lessons from Toto's Home State)

"Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."

So says Dorothy to her little dog, stepping out of her transported house and into the magical land of Oz. And while twisters don't typically move whole houses into alternate realities, there is one thing the Wizard of Oz got right: there are a lot of tornadoes in Kansas.

Spring is a particularly vulnerable time for the prairie state, and the Kansas City Star recently published an article to remind residents about the importance of preparedness.

While it may be the last thing you want to think about, a little preparation before the dark storm clouds roll in can make it much easier to pick up the pieces if disaster strikes.

“People know that emergency preparedness is necessary, but many are not taking action,” said Almitra Buzan, public relations manager for the American Red Cross in Kansas City. “We encourage people to become prepared.”

Tom Morgan, community preparedness and national incident management system coordinator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Kansas City, offers the same advice.

“Emergency preparedness is incredibly important,” he said. “If a disaster hits, you can be financially destroyed, and you also can lose personal items that can’t be replaced. Some people assume that if there is a disaster, the government will help them out, but that’s not always the case. The first response is from local government, and only a small percentage of incidents ever receive federal assistance.”

Monday, May 3, 2010

Diocesan Preparedness Month: Disasters Across the Nation

Right now, oil is pouring into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of more than 200,000 gallons per day. The slick, now visible from space, is 130 miles long and 70 miles across and growing. This unprecedented environmental catastrophe threatens not only the creatures that call the Gulf home, but also the fishing and tourism industries that depend on beautiful, clean waters. Read more from Reuters.

At the same time, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Tennessee are mourning the loss of at least 19 people, killed in a devastating rash of storms that included tornadoes and rising waters. A large portion of Central Tennessee is underwater, including the city of Nashville. Thousands have sought refuge in shelters, and many more are still being rescued.  Read more from CNN.

In addition, the city of New York is reeling from a failed terrorist attempt in Times Square. Three NYPD officers and a street vendor found the device, cleared the area, and called the bomb squad, preventing the devastating consequences of its detonation. Read more from the New York Daily News.

Please keep the people and leaders of these affected communities in your thoughts and prayers.

Diocesan Preparedness Month: Why Prepare?

Here at TEDRD, I'm sometimes referred to as the "preparedness diva." And for good reason. Preparedness isn't just my job; it's my mission.

Of course, I understand that not everyone is as passionate about preparedness as I am. Some don't see the need in preparing for things that "probably won't happen anyway."  Unfortunately, disasters typically come when we least expect them, and they don't strike only the prepared.

So why prepare? Here are a few reasons:

We live in Texas. There might be a handful of low-risk states in the U.S., but Texas is definitely not one of them. In 2008 alone, three hurricanes hit our coast. Two of our major cities (Austin and Houston) are prone to flooding, sometimes to devastating levels. And that's just a start; we haven't even begun to talk about tornadoes, fires, chemicals leaks or explosions, and even the occasional earthquake. Disasters can be regional (like tornadoes) or local (like fires). We may have warning (as with hurricanes) or they may occur suddenly (as with chemical explosions).

Preparedness reduces fear and anxiety. Sure, there's no way to be fully prepared for every event; things will always happen that we don't expect. However, having a plan in place gives us a solid starting point, direction and the peace of mind of knowing we've done everything we can. Plus, in many situations, we may find that our advance preparation is enough. Those food stores set aside will come in handy for sheltering-in-place. And the evacuation kit we stash in a closet by the door will save valuable time, possibly getting us on the road ahead of the crowd. Anybody who has been through an evacuation knows that getting caught in a flood of evacuees is a disaster in itself.

Preparedness can reduce damage or losses to your person or your belongings. Knowing each escape route in your home, for example, can help us to get away from a fire safely. Keeping trees and shrubs pruned prevents dead branches from becoming missiles in a tornado or other windstorm. Preparedness can be as simple as building or buying a home outside a flood zone, or as detailed as storing plastic cut to fit each window in our homes. The steps each of us take will depend on the risks specific to our communities.

For more information, visit "Why Prepare?" a resource of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

You may have other reasons to prepare for emergencies, depending on your family or situation. Check back with us all month long for resources, information, and tips to get you there.

Plus, if you have a story of how being prepared worked for you, we want to hear about it. Email me at!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Cummins Family Gets C.O.!

Yesterday, we received the Certificate of Occupancy for the Cummins house. They will move home at the end of this week!

The family again expressed their sincere gratitude to all of the volunteers and donors that have helped them in their journey home. And two of the Cummins children have expressed interest in volunteering with TEDRD to help our other homeowners and pay it forward.

Thanks again to everyone who helped. Below is a before and after. Check out Facebook for more photos.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

St. Matt's Back Again

This week, we have St. Matthew's Austin here to help again. This particular group from St. Matt's, led by Jim Fryer is making their 4th trip!

And as a special treat, they will put the finishing touches on a house that they gutted on their 3rd trip down. They will be the bookends for the Cummins' home.

Its such a blessing for us to build relationships with wonderful people like the St. Matt's crew who continue to put in time for our homeowners.

Additionally, our friends Larry and Stuart continue to help us every week in Galveston. Those two have been a tremendous help for us.

The month of May looks to slow down a little bit as far as volunteers go, so we could use a little help if you are interested. Just contact Luke at or by phone at 713.252.9693.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

More Families Moving Home

We've alread moved 3 families home this month, but it looks like we might have a couple more.

The Cummins family (Ave. M 1/2) will be moving home within the next week. Ms. Sharon (Sealy St.) and Ms. Brenda (Ave. T) will move home soon as well.

Mr. and Mrs. Cummins have both been in and out of the hospital since we started working on their home, and Mr. Cummins is looking to come home from the hospital at the end of this week. It will be a wonderful sight to see him return to a new home.

Ms. Sharon is a single mother and school teacher who is looking to get her family back home, and Ms. Brenda works at the San Luis Hotel and is living with a friend until our work is complete.

If we stay on track, we will move 6 families homes this month, which is an incredible feat that we could only have accomplished with the help of our wonderful volunteers. We are so grateful for all of the work you do!

Check back for more updates here, and on Facebook

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mr. Rodgers Moves Home!

The inside of Mr. Rodgers' home is finished! We still need to do some work on the outside, but the inside is complete. Yesterday, Mr. Rodgers received his Certificate of Occupancy, officially allowing him to move home.

This weekend we plan on moving the rest of his furniture back in. Its so exciting when we have our homeowners move back home! And we're also grateful that we'll still see Mr. Rodgers around as he continues to make cabinets for other homes.

Below is a before and after of his home, to check out more photos, visit our Facebook Page at

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Emergency Preparedness Month is Coming!

Get ready! Here at Texas Episcopal Disaster Relief and Development, we have declared May 2010 Diocesan Emergency Preparedness Month!

As the Preparedness & Planning Coordinator, I (Carolyn) will be updating the blog and twitter with preparedness information for churches and families throughout the month.

We're also holding Parish Preparedness Workshops in three areas around the diocese. For locations and more information, visit And if you want more one-on-one help to prepare your church, I'll be available for that as well.

To schedule an appointment for your parish, suggest a preparedness topic, or even ask a question, email me at Let's get prepared together!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Finished Product

We went to install a refridgerator at Ms. Marsha's on Wednesday as one of the final touches to her home repair. It is amazing to see the progress of her home over the past 3 months.

Visit our facebook page and check out the photos. Theres still a couple minor details to touch up, but the house looks great, despite the debris from moving back in.



Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Gorgeous Weather

Its been beautiful weather in Galveston for the past few days as we continue to work on homes.

This week, we have a youth group from Monroe, Washington that is doing some great work. The Henrys are also still helping out along with Stuart and Larry (STC and LTC).

We still have some open dates in May. If you know of anyone who is interested, tell them to contact Luke Blount at or by phone at 713.252.9693.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Easter!

Its been a great week of work in Galveston as Grinnell students worked hard on several homes. It was great to work with them once again!

March was one of our busiest months we've ever had, and we're thankful for all of the volunteer support.

Our friends, the Henrys, arrived yesterday to start working. One of our favorite couples, Ruth and Len will be on site for a little over a week, helping out.

Also, we just got a new intern, Tyler, who started this week. That makes 4 interns currently working on our projects. We're glad to have an extra pair of hands!

Happy Easter everyone! We pray for safe travels and joyous times.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Grinnell Back in Town

Grinnell College arrived on Sunday for their 4th trip to work in Galveston with TEDRD. Its great to have some familiar faces around. What a wonderful legacy these students are leaving with their ReNew program.

The students from Maggie's alma mater continue to selflessly offer a helping hand to our homeowners as they recover from the devastation of Hurricane Ike.

Yesterday, Rev. Lillian Hyde and St. George's - Texas City made dinner for Grinnell as a show of thanks for the work they have put in. She made red beans and rice, and it was delicious!. Thanks Lillian, and thanks Grinnell for your continued efforts!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Great Week!

We're finishing up another great week of work in Galveston. Our groups from Dordt College, Immanuel Church of Ft. Collings, and Kenyon College have all been marvelous. They just about ran us out of work by the end of this week.

We will probably be picking up another home or two next week to get started on as we close a few others by the end of the month. Such a great feeling to finish these projects!

400 volunteers have already made it to Galveston. And we will finish at least 5 houses by the end of April. What an accomplishment! Credit goes to our wonderful volunteers who give of their time and resources to lend a helping hand to the less fortunate.

Thanks to all of you!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

It's another great day of rebuilding and repairing homes. We're wearing our green as we try to finish up some projects. Ms. Marsha's house is nearing completion, and Ms. Eleanor and Ms. Charlotte are basically finished!

We've already reached 10,000 hours of volunteer work for this year. What an incredible accomplishment! Our goal was 25,000 hours, and it looks like we'll easily surpass it. Thanks for all you do.

Murphy Says: "Kiss Me I'm Irish"

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