Trinity Standard - Local News
Stories Added - September 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company

Area cleaning up following storm
Trinity Standard - September 2008

TRINITY – With power back on to all but a handful of county residents as of Monday, area officials agreed that while Hurricane Ike was bad, it could have been much worse.

“I was pleased with the way most everyone pulled together during this crisis,” Trinity City Manager Phil Patchett said Monday.

“Police, fire fighters and the National Guard were joined by a number of citizens who came out to volunteer their time to help others and their community,” he said.

“The people of this community really came together in a time of need. It was not about ‘I’ to most people; it was about ‘we’ as a team,” the city manager said.

Patchett said the community worked together to help clear debris from streets and roads and then continued during the weeklong power outage suffered by the area.

One death and no serious injuries were attributed to the hurricane, which swept through Trinity County and East Texas on Saturday, Sept. 13.

The body of Lee Standridge, 22, of Crystal Beach was recovered late Monday afternoon, Sept. 15, near the Hillwood Acres subdivision boat ramp.

According to Game Warden Ralph Montemayor of the Texas Parks and Wildlife service, the medical examiner has ruled drowning as the cause of death.

Standridge and two other men evacuated from Crystal Beach near Galveston and were staying at a home in The Landing Subdivision off FM 3188 northeast of Trinity.

All three were on a flat-bottomed boat on Lake Livingston at about midnight on Friday, Sept. 12, as Hurricane Ike began rolling through the region. The winds caused the boat to flip, sending the three into the water.

Two of the men managed to hang onto the boat but Standridge, who was not wearing a lifejacket, did not.

Game wardens and members of the Trinity Volunteer Fire Department searched the area until about 2:15 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 13, until the rising winds forced them off the water. They were not able to return until 8 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 14.


Volunteers to the rescue

In the aftermath of the storm, Trinity County Judge Mark also had words of praise for the way Trinity County pulled together during the power outage.

“We couldn’t have gotten through this without the volunteer firemen. They turned out and worked round-the-clock for days helping the people of Trinity County,” he said.

Evans noted that following the storm, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sent relief supplies to all impacted areas, including Trinity County. Gov. Rick Perry also dispatched units of the Texas National Guard to assist in the distribution of the emergency food, water and ice.

Beginning on Sunday, Sept. 14, the FEMA Points of Distribution or “PODs” were set up in both Trinity and Groveton. The Trinity POD closed on Friday, Sept. 19, while the Groveton one continued through Saturday, Sept. 20.

Evans added that some supplies were carried by local volunteers to other parts of the county. The last distribution locally took place on Sunday in Apple Springs.

“During this period, Trinity County received 40 truck loads of food, water and ice. Each truck contained about 20 pallets so we received about 800 pallets of food, water and ice following the storm,” he said.

Trinity Police Chief Steven Jones said that in Trinity, they averaged about 700 cars a day through the POD to pickup supplies.

Jones said in addition to the guardsmen and firefighters, regular citizens turned out every day to help hand out supplies. One day, the Trinity Tiger varsity football team showed up and pitched in to distribute the food, water and ice.

“A lot of high school kids were among the volunteers who helped,” he said.

Jones added that in addition to the FEMA supplies, the Salvation Army set up in Trinity during the days following the storm and handed out hot food and cold drinks to area residents.

“In one day, they served over 1,700 meals,” Jones said. “It was phenomenal.”


Clean-up underway

Evans noted that while power has now been restored, the clean-up effort will continue.

Commissioners were scheduled to meet on Wednesday, Sept. 24, in a special meeting to discuss hiring a debris removal company.

Evans noted that in the aftermath of the storm, a ban on outdoor burning has been put into place and will remain in effect for the time being.

One of the main reasons for the ban right now is the large amount of debris, including trees and tree limbs, that is waiting to be burned throughout the county.

“After this last week, all of the firemen in the county are extremely tired and we need to give them a chance to rest,” Evans said.

In addition, volunteers with the Southern Baptist Group plan to work in the county helping cut up downed trees. Evans said that while the group will not remove the trees for a homeowner’s property, they will cut it up so that others can move it more easily.

Those wishing to get on the list for this service may call the county judge’s office at 642-1746.

Evans added that FEMA adjusters are already working in Trinity County assessing damage to homes and businesses and he hopes to have FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers set up soon in Trinity and Groveton.

“We’re also trying to get a FEMA mobile office to come in so that it can go to Apple Springs, Pennington, Carlisle and other areas of the county,” he said.

Those wishing to register a claim with FEMA may call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

“The damage from Ike was much greater that that of Rita (in 2005). To give you an idea, we’ve already handed out 100 tarps to people who have had damage to their roofs. During Rita, we didn’t give out more than 10,” the judge said.

The infamous “blue tarps” can now been seen on many roofs throughout the county, including the county-owned Rock Building located next door to the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton.

Evans said the roof on that structure sustained major damage and that a number of windows on the courthouse itself were blown out during the storm. Several large trees on the courthouse square also fell in the high winds.


City recovering

Patchett said one of the biggest problems faced by the city when Ike severed power supplies was the water system.

That problem was solved with the emergency purchase of three large electrical generators that were installed at the city wells and ground storage tanks.

“It took us a couple of days to get everything lined up but we managed to get the pressure back up to the entire city,” he said.

The cost of the three generators was $61,000 and Patchett said he has been assured that the city will be reimbursed for the cost either by FEMA or through another federal program.




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