Monday, July 11, 2011

Blitz Build Starts in Mississippi

In Mississippi, one community plans two-week blitz build to replace one family's home destroyed in an April tornado. Work begins Saturday, July 9 in Smithville, MS. Interested volunteers should email the Rev. Russ Oechsel, Archdeacon, at Donors for this and ongoing tornado relief can donate here or make checks payable to the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. Write "MS/AL Tornado Relief" in the memo line and send to 1225 Texas Ave Houston, TX 77002.

Below is a letter from the Rev. Paul Stephens, rector of All Saints, Tupelo, MS:

We have been touched by the suffering that Wade Morris and his family have endured these past months. (Wade is the nephew of the Rev. Judy Morris, associate at St. Peter’s by the Lake, Brandon, MS). Wade suffered severe burns to his hands, arms, chest and face in a grease fire which occurred several weeks before the tornado hit Smithville, MS.

Because he had been laid off from his job and didn’t have health insurance when the accident occurred, Morris had to be separated from his family (pregnant wife Jennifer and two children) and taken to the burn center in Memphis for treatment. His treatment in Memphis was grueling and included multiple skin grafts. He was discharged about two weeks before the Smithville tornado hit so he could be home for the birth of his third child (a beautiful and healthy baby girl born 10 days before the tornado) provided he agreed to make at least two trips a week to Memphis for burn care and physical therapy. Those trips are anticipated to continue for several months into the future. The Morrises were at home in downtown Smithville when the tornado hit.

That April afternoon, the house they were renting and all their possessions, including vehicles, were totally destroyed. Fortunately and providentially, Wade and his immediate family escaped injury. Since the tornado, Wade and his family first lived with family members and then in a hunting cabin in the woods. As I write this note, they are preparing to move into a FEMA trailer which has been located in downtown Smithville.

Texas and FEMA Begin Joint Recovery Efforts

A team of emergency management experts from the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are working side by side, following a presidential disaster declaration, to help eligible state and local government entities, and certain nonprofit organizations receive federal aid for their eligible wildfire costs.

The federal disaster declaration, announced on July 1, triggered FEMA's Public Assistance (PA) program for 45 Texas counties. Applicants in these counties are now eligible to receive reimbursement funding for Emergency Protective Measures that supported firefighting activities for wildfires that occurred between April 6 and May 3, 2011.

"Together we will work to ensure state agencies, local jurisdictions and eligible nonprofit groups are reimbursed for their firefighting efforts," said State Coordinating Officer Shari Ramirez-MacKay. "This assistance will help as our communities continue to recover from these historic fires."

"The FEMA team is on the ground in Austin and will remain in Texas working with our state and local partners until recovery efforts are complete," said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Kevin L. Hannes. "We will also be visiting the declared counties as quickly as possible to explain the funding program and assist in the reimbursement process."

The 45 eligible counties include Andrews, Archer, Armstrong, Bailey, Baylor, Brewster, Callahan, Carson, Castro, Clay, Coleman, Concho, Cottle, Crockett, Dawson, Duval, Eastland, Garza, Glasscock, Hall, Hemphill, Hockley, Irion, Kent, King, Lynn, Martin, Mason, Mitchell, Moore, Motley, Pecos, Presidio, Scurry, Stephens, Sterling, Sutton, Terrell, Terry, Throckmorton, Tom Green, Trinity, Tyler, Val Verde, and Young. FEMA will reimburse 75 percent of eligible wildfire costs.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Farewell From Galveston

Dearest Volunteers, Donors, Friends and Family,

I'm sitting here alone in the empty office, all packed up and ready to ship out, thinking back on all of the good work and good times we here at TEDRD have had since 2008.  I find myself overwhelmed by all of you, the incredible people who made it all possible.  Without your early and overwhelming response to Hurricane Ike, this program would never have made it off the ground, and you have supported us ever since.

In the last 2 years, 5 months and 10 days we have had more than 2800 people travel from within Texas and beyond to volunteer with us.  You are Episcopalian and Lutherans and Catholics and Atheists, experienced carpenters and people who have never picked up a paint brush, young and young at heart, but you all were always ready to put everything you had into the task at hand.  Because of you, we have been able to do repairs to 60 homes and muck out more than 125 others.  You, the volunteers and donors, made it possible for us to more than double the over $1 million in donations and grants we have received.  That is an incredible feat, and one that I am so proud of.

There is so much to be thankful for, not the least of which is two very quiet hurricane seasons since 2008.  But that doesn't mean the work here is over.  Even as we finish this  ministry in Galveston, churches within the Diocese of Texas are taking the next steps in preparing themselves for the next emergency, whether it is a hurricane or something else, and I would encourage all of you to do the same.  Episcopal Relief and Development is hard at work creating resources and educating Diocese in disaster preparedness and response.  I highly encourage you to look at their website,, and sign up for their "Ready to Serve" database ( 

This database gives Episcopal Relief and Development permission to contact you in the future about volunteer opportunities of all kinds as well as gets you on their newsletter list, and I hope every last one of you signs up.

There aren't the words to adequately thank all of you for your prayers, love and support throughout this mission, just know that we could never have done any of it without you.  Please look us up on Facebook and keep in touch!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Reaching the Finish Line

We're approaching the finish line after 2.5 years in Galveston. What a blessing it has been to see the transformation in the community!

Look for us at Council this weekend! And check out to view pictures!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

TEDRD Farewell Potluck

Come out and have a party with us one last time! TEDRD is throwing a farewell potluck Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. at the William Temple Episcopal Center.

Bring your favorite dish to share and say goodbye. We'd love to see you.

Contact Luke with any questions at 713.252.9693.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Presiding Bishop Blesses Home!

Courtesy of the Galveston Daily News:

Published January 16, 2011

GALVESTON — Melvin Brooks gathered with his family at his small frame home just off Broadway in Galveston on Saturday.

Displaced by Hurricane Ike, the homeowners waited as dusk fell to welcome a distinguished visitor and benefactor, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States.

The bishop was on the island to conduct a formal blessing of the Brooks family home and to encourage representatives of the many volunteers who have spent the past months restoring it.

As darkness fell outside, the interior space was lit only by a few scattered industrial lights. As volunteers and leaders arrived and the bishop’s entourage made its way from the island’s William Temple Episcopal Center, members of the Brooks family reviewed what life had been like since the storm.

“It was a mess with water damage and rain from the windows,” Rena Brooks, Melvin’s wife, said. “We stayed in a hotel, all together in just one room — then had to find a place to rent. We couldn’t get any help from FEMA.”

Help finally came after a co-worker told them of a grant program from the Episcopal Church. The family, narrowly avoiding foreclosure, was able to hold on to the property.

“With the help of the Lord, we were able to keep going,” Rena Brooks said.

Click here for more

Thursday, January 13, 2011

PB on the way

My goodness, it has been a crazy start to this year. TEDRD is definitely going out with a bang as we gear up for the end. We have had lots of volunteers coming through and getting a TON of work done. Now, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church is visiting on Saturday to bless one of our homes. What a great way to finish our project! More information to come soon!

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