Doing right for those who left from Ike

Gone. Pictures, homes, essentials and memories were among the list of losses evacuees faced this past week as Hurricane Ike swept through the Texas and Louisiana coast in a raging path of fear and destruction. Emotional tensions, last minute grabs, and no sense of direction leave the many in flight in fright, but the offered services of Sam Houston State University once again provided relief.

The relief provided by the university should be given full praise for the efforts and organization provided by the coordinators, and the contribution of time as well as donations given by the students and staff volunteers. On the other hand, there is room for improvement.

The campus shelter is Red Cross assisted but is not run by the Red Cross. So, the Red Cross sends the basic needs to run the shelter as is written in an agreement between the shelters provided and the Red Cross.

Three years ago, during Hurricane Rita, evacuees who came to the SHSU shelters struggled to sleep on whatever they could find.

According to Assistant Director Ed Chatel, since Rita, the county has worked to have items in a warehouse ready for such emergencies.

Thanks to that preparation, the Johnson Coliseum shelter was able to provide the fluctuating number of over 300 evacuees with cots and blankets. United way and Good Shepherd Mission set the shelter up with blankets, cots, baby care needs, and even hygiene kits.

The county also provided a medical organization known as “The Angels” who were able to fill medical prescriptions for the evacuees. Red Cross affiliates even mentioned their approval of the shelter in comparison to other shelters from Houston to San Antonio as one of the most organized.

Coordinators continually express their gratitude for the student volunteers who put in the long hours to help with what Nathan Fontaine called the “not so fun tasks.”

Volunteers were not forced to stick with a specific job, such as door duty, some were given the opportunity to help start a kid’s play center within the shelter, setting up movies on a T.V., toys, and coloring books. As a volunteer, I was privileged to help with the care of an Autistic child.

Student volunteer Jennifer Raney says she was glad to help the kids, and applauded the shelter coordinator for seeing the need to make a kid area.

However, there are a few suggestions for improvement.

Next time, the children could use a safer environment.

Let’s face it, hurricane or no hurricane kids are going to be kids, which means kids are going to find trouble.

The maze of cots, staircases, strangers, and wheel chairs pose dangers for cooped-up children. Why not have official play places for the kids next time?

Also, some volunteers did not know what to expect when signing in, have a list of jobs that the can do, but keep the flexibility.

Overall, the university did an outstanding job in their efforts to provide for the many with the little they had.

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