Mothers and family members wait for aid and fill out applications at the BPSOS-Houston office in the wake of Hurricane Ike.
October 7, 2008: The “hurricane journals” of Houston-BPSOS staff attorney An-Phong Vo continue to present the hardships faced by Ike’s victims, as well as the efforts being mounted to save survivors from further suffering:
Tuesday: Our office receives a call from Bac Hieu this morning. “Please help my wife and me,” he says. He is 77 years old. His wife is also in her 70s. Since Ike, he and his wife have been eating canned food. They have not left their house even though it was damaged. They haven’t purchased and can’t afford home insurance. They live on a meager income earned from Social Security and “every dollar we have was used to pay for our utilities, food, medicine, and necessities.”
His wife recently suffered a fall that has rendered her immobile. The blackout days were terribly hard for Bac Hieu and his wife as they tried to take care of one another – she comforted him emotionally while he attended to her physical needs, in near darkness. Being able to assist families such as Bac Hieu’s makes our job so much more fulfilling and rewarding. And a long and tiring day is a happy day.
Wednesday: We’ve reached a milestone today, as the number of families served has crossed the 1,000 threshold!
Thursday: We are beginning to see a shift in service needs. Families are now coming to our office to ask for help with completing their Small Business Administration (SBA) applications. Also, we are being inundated with phone calls inquiring about rental assistance or why they have not heard from FEMA.
Friday: We are requesting a disaster recovery center (DRC) in the Southwest area. Our hope is that by midweek, people will be able to obtain one-on-one service with FEMA representatives. Although there are DRCs in the city, the distance, fear of unfamiliar surroundings, and lack of transportation, as well as language and cultural barriers, prevent limited English proficiency families from seeking assistance.