Monday, September 29, 2008

Not in the News Anymore

Other than mentions of gas shortages throughout the southeast, Hurricane Ike is no longer a news issue. And this is sad. So many of our fellow countrymen are now facing the arduous task of clean-up and rebuilding. From Orange Texas to Galveston, the destruction is reminiscent of what occurred along the Mississippi Gulf Coast from Hurricane Katrina. Like the Mississippi Gulf after Katrina, small towns like San Leon, Port Arthur, and Beaumont are ignored. Mississippians continue to pay it forward.

Signs throughout the area echo the messages of those scrawled throughout the lawns of South Mississippi after Katrina, declarations of resiliency, warning, and of course, humor. Like the coast, people in this self-sufficient small town, believe they were overlooked by the national media, as coverage focused on nearby Galveston and Houston. And though self-sufficient, they are well aware it won't be easy to pull off recovery on their own.

"We definitely need outside help," said resident Terry Loutham.

The good news is some people have been exposed to the plights of the people in San Leon. Since the TrailGrazHer's trip, two 18-wheelers full of supplies have been loaded up and will head to San Leon on Monday, and the Diamondhead Fire Department has nearly filled up another 18-wheeler full of donations.

As for the residents of San Leon, those who have decided to stay are doing what they can to get back on their feet, while opening their arms to outside help. Collections at the Diamondhead Fire Department will continue until the 18-wheeler is full.

Besides the messages of hope and strength made by state and local officials in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, there was one business that also passed along that message. Hancock Bank saw its main office building flooded from Katrina's storm surge. Many of its branches were also destroyed. They reassured the public and printed bumper stickers that said "Rebuilding better and stronger: Together". They remember all too well the destruction from Hurricane Katrina and from that experience know people in Texas need our help.

Texans made generous contributions to South Mississippi's relief and recovery efforts from Hurricane Katrina and the Sun Herald wants to honor those precious gifts of time and money.

So the newspaper has joined with Hancock Bank and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation to establish the Galveston Bay Hurricane Relief Fund to help the cities and counties around Galveston Bay recover from Hurricane Ike.

Contributions to the fund can be made at any branch of Hancock Bank. And every penny contributed to the fund will go to the relief effort - there will be no administrative expenses or handling costs deducted from the contributions.
The more we learn of the devastation around Galveston Bay, the more it reminds us of ourselves three years ago as we were reeling from the impact of Hurricane Katrina.

As we have said, Katrina and Ike both made landfall in a region of multiple jurisdictions - a cluster of towns and cities and counties with varying degrees of damage and with varying levels of resources to recover.

Another similarity has also arisen: just as the flooding of New Orleans overshadowed the shattered Mississippi Gulf Coast, the national financial crisis has shifted attention away from the coastline communities of southeast Texas.

Having been lost in those media shadows ourselves, we dare not allow other coastal communities to suffer the same fate.

We will be promoting the fund often in the pages of the Sun Herald in the hope that the appeal will produce an amount of money that will make a significant difference to our great neighbors in the Lone Star State.

We hardly need to remind our readers how much any contribution will be appreciated by the recipients. We have all been there. And we all know the value of every step toward recovery.

You may contribute to the Galveston Bay Hurricane Relief Fund at any branch of Hancock Bank.

I want to add that the Sunherald did many things after Hurricane Katrina as well. Their coverage of Katrina was impressive. They also gave newspapers away after Katrina. They knew with the communication problems, we needed information. They also won a Pulitzer for their coverage.

Texans are busy cleaning up the mess from Hurricane Ike. They are pulling together like we did in Mississippi. They have a long road ahead of them and they mustn't be forgotten.

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