Hundreds of evacuees and other survivors of Hurricane Ike have flooded the office of BPSOS in Houston – and the desk staff continues to serve person after person.
September 30, 2008: An-Phong Vo, staff attorney at BPSOS-Houston, sends us this update on the Hurricane Ike relief efforts:
Saturday: Our staff and volunteers served 57 families. An-Phong Vo and Minh Nguyet Tran teamed up with Philip Hiep Nguyen (VCHV), Thuy Nguyen (NAVASA), Houston volunteers Tram and Bich Vo, and Dallas volunteers Tu-Khue Truong, Joey Tran, Hoa Nguyen, Bessie Quach, Beckie Quach, and Bonnie Quach, to provide Vietnamese-American families residing at Thanh Tam Village with disaster-recovery assistance.
Also on site were FEMA public relations specialists Nick Ho and Don. Of the 57 families served, Bac Sao made us realize that the elders are those most affected by Hurricane Ike. Bac Sao, a 72-year-old woman, was renting an apartment a week before Ike and the building sustained major damage, making the premises uninhabitable. She doesn’t have any money and doesn’t have anywhere to go. Our generous and kind-hearted Dallas volunteers immediately stepped up and raised $200 amongst themselves, with Philip Hiep Nguyen chipping in $20, to give to Bac Sao so that she can have something to go on. At the end of the day, one of her neighbors agreed to take her in while she’s waiting for her FEMA application to be processed. The day would not be a success without the participation of volunteers and the cooperation and hospitality of Thanh Tam Village residents. Thank you, everyone!
Monday: We served 102 families. Most families came to our office today for assistance with completing emergency food stamp applications and FEMA registrations. Our last client of the day (number 102) asked, “How much do I owe you?” when a completed food stamp application was being handed to her. Apparently a few unscrupulous individuals are charging Ike victims a fee for helping them with their applications. There are places where victims, mainly senior citizens, are being charged $25/application. BPSOS has broached this subject on air and also let the community know that community-based organizations like ourselves are providing disaster-related services free of charge. And of course, the answer to our client’s question pertaining to a charge was, “Nothing at all!” Our office would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation to Andrew Vu Luu for volunteering with BPSOS over the past few days.