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.


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