Big Thicket Messenger - Local News
Stories Added - September 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company

Area communities Recover from Ike
Big Thicket Messenger - September 2008

Ace First Baptist Church sustained severe damage to its dining hall and Sunday School rooms when three of the four walls collapsed during the torrential winds of Hurricane Ike.

Church pastor John Taylor reported that 15 people, including children, were sheltering in the dining facilities. Around 6:25 a.m. those in the shelter recall hearing what they thought was the sound of a freight train coming and rushed to get into the sanctuary.

The east, west and south cinderblock walls were blown down.

John’s father-in-law, Roy Munson, gave the land to the church in 1981. When he died in 1985 people gave money to help pay for her father’s funeral service and instead that money was used to start building the church which now has 129 members.

Taylor said, “We’re just thankful to the good Lore we didn’t have 15 to put (in the church’s cemetery) this week.”

At 1:00 p.m. Tuesday a 2.5 ton Army truck came in with supplies, ice, water and MREs to service over 200 in Ace.

National Guard personnel will remain until supplies run out. Red Barn workers were hauling ice, water and MREs to the fire station in Ace and people are lining up by the hundreds.

South Polk County Fire Chief Richard Tullos said his men are all working as hard as they can.

Taylor said he’s never seen a community pull together as well with neighbors helping neighbors.

The North Liberty County Volunteer Fire Department also took their time and their own trailers to bring in water, ice, and MREs to distribute to local residents.

The Big Thicket Lake Estates Volunteer Fire Department took care of their subdivision by also handing out ice, water and MREs.

Rye also had a spot set up at the Precinct 1 voting box with local residents able to gather water, ice and MREs. A Red Shelter station has also been set up serving hot lunches each day. Blue tarps have also been distributed to each POD. Woodpecker VFD volunteers are handing out supplies to those in need.

The Votaw area also had a Point of Distribution (POD) set up at the Votaw-Thicket Volunteer Fire Department.

Area churches in Thicket, Votaw, Hardin, Cleveland and Liberty helped serve hot meals, as well.

All Liberty County area schools have been closed due to Hurricane Ike. Although several received damage some are scheduled to open this coming week. Cleveland ISD was scheduled to begin classes on Tuesday, September 23. Both Dayton and Liberty are shooting for Thursday, September 25, as their opening days. Hardin and Hull-Daisetta and Tarkington have yet to receive electricity at press time and will be closed until further notice.  West Hardin schools will also remain closed until further notice. Because electricity may have been restored by the time you receive the Messenger, please check with your school to see their opening days. All football teams that are slated to play are counting on playing either Friday or Saturday. Again, check with your school to find out this information.

Emergency food stamps

Texans in disaster areas may be eligible for up to two months of emergency food stamp benefits if they meet income and asset requirements. A family of four earning up to $2,915 this month may qualify for assistance.

Many HHS offices are open to help Hurricane Ike victims.

Applicants will have to answer questions about their bank account balances and other assets. People who provide additional documentation may qualify for benefits for a longer period.

Texans in counties declared a disaster are due to Hurricane Ike can now apply for disaster food stamps using a shorter, two-page application.

English and Spanish versions of the new application are posted on the HHSC website at www.hhsc.state.tx.us.

Applicants can also visit an HHSC benefits office. A list of offices that are currently open is available at www.hhsc.state.tx.us or by calling 2-1-1.

Offices in the Houston area are operating extended hours.

People who lack transportation may be able to apply by calling 2-1-1. Select Option 1 for English or Option 2 for Spanish, then selection Option 2 for food stamps.

You can download an application at www.hhsc.state.tx.us, fill it out, and fax it toll-free to 1-877-447-2839.

HHSC staff are accepting applications at shelters and will be at disaster recovery centers once they are open.

People who have not applied for food stamps before can submit an application online at www.yourtexasbenefits.com.

The new application may be used to apply for special disaster assistance instead of the usual 12-page state application.

There are rumors that applications are being accepted at grocery stores. This is not correct. People may apply at an HHSC benefits office, online, or by fax, or by calling 2-1-1.

Current food stamp recipients in counties with a federal disaster declaration will automatically get replacement benefits. No call or office visit is necessary.

HHSC is loading the replacement benefits onto clients Lone Star Cards, and expects all current clients in disaster areas to have replacement benefits in the next few days.

Unemployment benefits

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has announced that as a result of Presidential Disaster Declaration FEMA-1791-DR, TWC is accepting applications for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) from individuals whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted due to Hurricane Ike starting  September 7, 2008, and continuing.

Applications for DUA must be filed by Wednesday, October 15, 2008.

Texas counties included in the disaster declaration are Angelina, Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Cherokee, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Houston, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Madison, Matagorda, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Trinity, Tyler, Walker, Waller and Washington.

DUA is available to individuals who:

Worked or were self-employed in or were scheduled to being work or self-employment.

Can no longer work or perform services because of physical damage or destruction to the place of employment as a direct result of the disaster.

Establish that the work or self-employment they can no longer perform was their primary source of income.

Do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits from any state.

Cannot perform work or self-employment because of an injury as a direct result of the disaster, or

Who became the breadwinner or major support of a household because of the result of the head of household.

Applications filed after Wednesday, October 15, 2008, will be considered untimely unless the individual provides good cause for filing after the deadline.

Individuals will need their Social Security number, a copy of their most recent federal income tax forms or check stubs, or documentation to support they were working or self-employed when the disaster occurred. To receive DUA benefits, all required documentation must be submitted within 21 days from the day the day the DUA application is field.

To file for disaster-related unemployment assistance, individuals may log on to http://www.texasworkforce.org or call the nearest TWC Tele-Center from Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Central Time at (800) 939-6631.

As we continue to work together, helping our neighbors, we will survive this ordeal that Hurricane Ike left. Recovery efforts are well underway throughout the Big Thicket area.







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