Oklahomans volunteer to help Houston recover from Ike

Thursday, September 18th 2008, 5:32 pm
By: News 9

By Jennifer Pierce, NEWS 9

Nearly a week after Hurricane Ike hit Texas, downtown Houston is starting to come back to life. But about a million people still don't have power.

Schools remain closed and it could be another week before all the power is restored. And the wait is getting more frustrating for Galveston residents still dealing with a massive cleanup, power outages and sewage problems.

Folks who live there are not allowed to return for at least a week.

There are numerous Oklahomans in the hurricane ravaged Texas coast. Volunteers with different organizations are there to assist in clean-up and other recovery efforts. Some are headed to places like Houston and Galveston, while others are sending their love and support from their homes.

Ten Red Cross volunteers left Oklahoma City for Texas Thursday morning. For some of the volunteers, this is their first time to see the aftermath of a devastating hurricane.

"I'm really not sure what to expect since it's my first time," Kim Lillard said.

But Lillard and the volunteers do know they will work in shelters and provide hot meals.

"A lot of them just need to know we care about them," Betty Pliler said.

Even the smallest hurricane victims are not forgotten. The local chapter of Hugs Across America is sending soft and fuzzy greetings to children who have been displaced by the disaster.

"Sometimes they don't have time to pack up, like, toys; it's more or less clothes if anything at all and a toy like a teddy bear, something you can call your own, when you are in a strange place like a shelter that can make all the difference," Jaime Gallimore said.

Gallimore's work from home will make a difference for over 200 youngsters and she would love to send more.

"Everybody wants to know how they can help," Gallimore said. "A teddy bear is a real simple way and it's inexpensive; everybody can donate a teddy bear."

Even local law enforcement is doing their part. One Oklahoma County Sheriff's Captain just returned from another hurricane ravaged area.

"We just came back with a 20-man-team from St. Mary Parish, La.," Captain James Absher said.

As Absher and his team were offering relief for Hurricane Gustav, Hurricane Ike hit.

"That was one opportunity that we had that everybody made a comment on that we got a great sense of accomplishment in being able to help these people get back to life as normal," Absher said.

The Red Cross team is first headed to Ft. Worth, from there they will deploy to wherever they are needed most.

Help those affected by Hurricane Ike