Bridge City residents make a point about the hurricane’s effects during the Ike team’s visit.
February 24, 2009: BPSOS-Houston’s Emergency Response and Recovery Program team last week visited Bridge City, whose population of nearly 9,000 people is still suffering from the devastating power of Hurricane Ike.
The team of staff attorney Robert Pham, case managers Nancy Le, Annie Trinh, and Jannette Diep, and Houston branch manager Thao Nguyen began meeting human needs almost immediately, distributing 40 Wal-mart gift cards to help survivors buy food and other necessities.
In all, over 40 people, including many Vietnamese immigrants, signed in to meet with the team. The turnout reflects the extent of the damage to the city. When Ike slammed into Bridge City after making landfall on September 13, 2008, it was the third-most destructive storm ever to hit the United States.
“[I]ndications are that Bridge City has been hit much harder than most,” a public television crew reported soon after Ike struck. “[T]he walls of some houses were simply stripped away … Drowned animals litter the neighborhood. There’s a dead pig on this street; the carcass of a cow partially eaten by alligators is just down the block … Many neighborhoods are coated with several inches of a viscous, smelly, black mud. It’s inside the houses, too.”
The team found that for long-term recovery, the gift cards were a great start, but only a start. More had to be done to line up aid to the Ike survivors who filed into the home of Tri Nguyen, who kindly offered BPSOS a place to set up shop.
“We were able to assist 35 families with unmet needs requests,” said Diep. “We’re especially grateful to chi Phuong Huynh for connecting us with families of hurricane survivors in the neighborhood.”
For now, the humanitarian mission of the BPSOS-Houston Ike team is only getting started. With the backing of the Gulf Coast Ike Relief Fund of the Greater Houston Community Foundation, the work will go on.
“We had an additional eight or nine people who came in later on in the day, and we’ll have to assist them on another visit,” said Trinh. “We also found that people in Orange City and Port Arthur may need our unmet needs assistance, too.”
Stay tuned for more updates from the Houston office’s Emergency Response and Recovery Program team!
Explaining their livelihood, Bridge City residents show the Ike relief team one of their traps.