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.

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