Weathering the Storm
More refugees come to Sulphur Springs; donations of money, food, air mattresses needed
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Sept. 1, 2005 - As the disaster continues to unfold along the Gulf Coast, Sulphur Springs and Hopkins County residents are responding to the needs of many of the people that have been displaced.

An emergency shelter opened earlier this week at Wesley United Methodist Church. By Thursday morning, more than 60 people were staying at the shelter. Still other families are  staying in hotels, but coming to the shelter for meals and other assistance, according to Lt. Rex Morgan, emergency management coordinator for the city.

Shelter officials said that as time goes on, they expect more people to come to the site at Texas and Bellview streets for assistance.

The shelter has a capacity of 250 people. Morgan said when that number is reached, arrangements have been made with neighboring cities to provide additional housing.

Donations are still needed to help meet the needs of those in the shelter, but Morgan said the outpouring of clothing on Wednesday will meet the immediate needs. He said there was just no room to store additional clothing donations and asked that no more clothes be taken to the shelter until he makes another request.

Other donations, however, are still needed.

�We need three things,� Morgan said. �We need cash donations, air mattresses and non perishable foods -- canned goods and things of that nature.�

While donated air mattresses should be taken to the shelter at Wesley United Methodist Church, food donations should be taken to First United Methodist Church where it is being warehoused.

When food storage space is filled at First United Methodist, Morgan said foods would also be stored at the Sulphur Springs Campus of Lake Pointe Church, formerly The Gathering, in the 800 block of Gilmer Street.

Monetary donations should be taken to Wesley United Methodist, according to Morgan, who said the donations will be used locally.

�When they bring in their cash donations, we will ask them how they want the cash to be used,� Morgan explained. �The money does not leave the county, but clothing bought with the money for specific people will go with that person.�

Checks should be made payable to Salvation Army Relief Fund.

Any other donations may be taken to Wesley United Methodist Church,  or items will be picked up by calling the church at 903-885-3383 or Jo Marie Neal at 903-335-1032.

Social Security representatives in Greenville were working to get paperwork together Thursday to facilitate receipt of welfare and Medicare and Medicaid benefits.

Representatives from the Texas Workforce Commission were to bring job listings and information along with application information for those refugees wanting to find work.

�If anybody has jobs available, if they will just call and give us that information, we can pass that along,� Morgan said. �The number is 903-885-3385.�

School officials from Sulphur Springs Independent School District and other school districts in the county have received the necessary authorizations and paperwork from the state to enable families with school-age children to have them enrolled in schools in the county.

Connie Mabe with Sulphur Springs ISD said three children, one in the fourth grade and twins in the second grade, had been enrolled in elementary  by one family. Others were anticipated.

To further welcome the storm evacuees to Sulphur Springs schools, the district provided tickets and issued invitations to attend Friday night’s varsity football game.

To help the refugees make contact with other family members, shelter officials provided information on an Internet Website that lists names and locations of people looking for friends and family.

At least one computer terminal is being made available by the church to give families this access.

The Internet address is: 

www.pleasenotifyme.org/nok/

restricted/home.htm

While many people, churches, clubs and organizations are working to help meet the needs of those storm victims who have ended up in Sulphur Springs, others are taking help to the affected areas.

Three tractor-trailer trucks, each loaded with 6,200 gallons of drinking water, left Sulphur Springs headed to the storm-ravaged area Thursday morning, and three additional trucks are being prepared to take on water to go to the coastal region.

The trucks are owned by Moo-Laa, DaUdder and Lone Star Milk Producers, and are dispatched by Michael Mund of Como.

Sharon Wetzel and Jennifer Dixon, employees in Mund’s office, have been working with the Salvation Army to get specific locations for the loads to water to go to.

�We� have one truck that has gone to Long Beach, Missouri, a truck that is headed for Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and one on the way to Baton Rouge, Louisiana,� Wetzel said. �We are working on three more trucks to be dispatched out today.�

The Lone Star trucks coming to Sulphur Springs for a load of water are from the Missouri, Florida and Georgia areas. They will haul water on their return trip.

The drivers are volunteering their time and taking advantage of the long holiday weekend to haul water to the disaster areas. As soon as they learn their destination, they will be on their way.

�We are waiting for the Salvation Army to call us back and tell us where they need another truck load of water to go, and we are ready to head out,� she said.

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