Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Laura Recovery Center Needs Our Help!!!

I received an email from Sandy with the LRCF and they are trying to find out who the fifth unidentified body is through family DNA. If you are still missing a loved one or know of someone who is, please READ THIS and respond immediately!!! This is her email:

I am with the Laura Recovery Center for Missing Children in Friendswood,Tx. We continue to maintain a database for all of those who are still missing as a result of Hurricane Ike. This past Saturday, The Galveston Daily News reported that the Galveston County Medical Examiner's Office had identified 4 of the 5 remains they had recovered on Bolivar Peninsula after the storm went through. There is still one lady yet to be identified and she is the one who was recovered on Pelican Island. She is described as being between 30 and 50 years of age, 4 feet 10 inches to 5 feet 1 inch, was wearing a Bally jogging bra, a white sock, has one webbed toe and a 7 inch abdominal scar. Would you please circulate this information on Bolivar? Someone has to know who this person is! Please contact me if there's anything we can do on our end to help identify this lady. Thanks for your help!


Sandy Stafford

4 Victims of Hurricane Ike Identified By DNA

April 28, 2009

KFDM Channel 6 News:

The Galveston County Medical Examiner's Office has identified another 4 victims of hurricane Ike by using DNA. A spokesman for the medical examiner's office says all 4 of the victims were found on Goat Island between October and December of last year. Ike hit in September. Officials sent DNA from family members to the University of North Texas to allow for comparison with the victims' DNA. The victims were 79, 52, 42, and 82 years old. All of them were from Port Bolivar. The bodies will be released to family members. The body of one woman found on Pelican Island hasn't been identified. 11 people are still listed as missing after hurricane Ike, 4 from the Bolivar Peninsula where some of the worst destruction occurred.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Funeral Services for Jennifer McLemore Slated for January 3, 2009

Funeral services will be held for Jennifer McLemore at Broussards Funeral Home at 3:00pm on January 3, 2009. She was a drowning victim of Hurricane Ike and found on November 25th twelves miles from her Gilchrist, Texas home. Jennifer worked at UTMB and had many friends and acquaintances in the Galveston and Bolivar Peninsula area including Houston and Beaumont. Her son, Mark Gassiot is trying to get the information out to as many people as possible that was in contact with Jennifer to give them an opportunity to attend her funeral services. God bless to ALL of Jennifer's family and close friends--our prayers are with you!

The Gilchrist Comunity Association

Wednesday, December 31, 2008


From: Mark Gassit <>Date: Fri, 5 Dec 2008


I was hoping for some help? My Mother was Jennifer Mclemore, a hurricane Ike victim identified on nov. 25th.
I am her son Mark Gassiot. My problem is that my mother worked for UTMB in Galveston for 20+ yrs. In that time she worked with a very large number of people staff and patients. She was a very caring person and treated all that she knew with a special care. UTMB has laid off 3000+. Hurricane Ike, has displaced almost everyone in her local area. I am asking if it would be possible to run a story for her funeral arrangements because she touched so many people's lives that we have no way of contacting. Her home was in Gilchrist Tx. Her office was on the first floor of the hospital which was flooded so were having a very hard time putting together lists of friends names or #'s. I know over the years she has kept in touch with so many ppl that she has come in contact with through the hospital. Her cell phone would have been a great help.
I just don't want people to have been left out that knew her. I don't have a lot of money to run a big ad and she was in contact with so many ppl. from Galveston, Beaumont, Houston--all over this area.
Please if you can help? Pass this story on to anyone that will run it. Trying to set a date for a funeral ASAP. You can publish this email. I set up an email for contact info @ . I'll check it regularly.

Thanks Mark


To all of you wonderful residents and empathizers of the Bolivar Peninsula Community:

I apologize for not updating the blog for the past month! My family has been planning a wedding, holidays (with everyone being displaced) and now, hopefully, we will be able to move part of the family back to Texas. I think we may actually get a FEMA trailer on my parent's lot in High Island!

Again, I most humbly apologize for letting my life take over my civic duties to the public. I DO think that it is important for all of us to stay connected while we can as we attempt to put our lives back together. God bless to each and everyone of you and may you be blessed with Good Health, Prosperity and Reverence in the coming New Year!

Happy New Year!!!
Connie Tomerlin
GCA Webmaster

Monday, November 10, 2008

This Is A Heart Touching Story!--Go Cardinals!!! November 9, 2008

This is a VERY well-written story. It made me tear up. I thought you would appreciate it!

Woman's Body Found in Chambers County

Article in the Galveston Daily News:

Woman's Body Found in Chambers County: likely Ike Victim


Thanks, Vanessa, for sending this article:

Body found of possible Ike victim
Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
Nov. 4, 2008, 12:01AM

Search dogs have uncovered a body that Hurricane Ike may have washed from the Bolivar Peninsula into Chambers County, authorities said.
Justice of the Peace Tracy Woody said the body was discovered about 1:30 p.m. Sunday in a large debris pile about four miles from East Galveston Bay.
"The body was in a wooded marshy area near Pine Island off FM 562," he said.
Investigators could not give the gender or any description of the victim because of the extreme state of decomposition. The remains were sent to Jefferson County morgue for identification.
According to records, 40 people from the Galveston-Bolivar area have died so far from the hurricane. Nine of those victims washed ashore or were found in debris piles days after the storm hit on Sept. 13. Thirteen others still remain missing, authorities said.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Furniture Bank, Star Furniture team up to help storm victims

From Star Furniture
Oct. 27, 2008, 11:51AM
Star Furniture is teaming up with The Furniture Bank of Houston to help Hurricane Ike victims rebuild their lives.
Star Furniture will collect furniture donations outside of its Houston-area locations 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 8. The Furniture Bank, 2100 Hussion St., will work with area human service agencies and charities to distribute the donations to families who’ve lost their belongings in the hurricane.
“We are happy to do whatever we can to help our community,” Star Furniture Advertising Director Mike Galloway said. “Having been in Houston since 1912, we’re all family in that regard.”
The Furniture Bank is looking forward to working with Star Furniture to help families in need, said Oli Mohammed, The Furniture Bank’s founder and executive director. “Nobody thinks about furniture after a disaster,” Mohammed said. “Food, clothing: people think of that.”
While hurricane victims can use furniture of any kind, they especially need beds, dinning room tables with chairs and dressers, Mohammed said. “Without a bed, a dining room table and a dresser to put clothing in, life gets very difficult,” he said.
Todd Sweeney would agree. He spent more than a month living in shelters after Hurricane Ike forced him out of his Port Bolivar home. In mid-October, after Sweeney re-located to a Houston apartment, The Furniture Bank gave him a new start.
“It makes a world of difference,” Sweeney said. “We’re ecstatic.”
Volunteer Gerry Lang of the Bolivar Peninsula has been working with St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church of High Island to identify area residents like Sweeney who can benefit from the Nov. 8 furniture drive.
“If you can give someone some normalcy, something to sleep on, something to eat on, it gives people a shot at life again,” Lang said.
Star Furniture will be accepting furniture at the following sites Nov. 8:
7111 FM 1960 W., 281-586-1900
6868 Southwest Freeway, 713-781-7200
19660 U.S. 59-Sugar Land, 281-342-7827
I-45 at NASA Road 1, Webster, 281-338-2471
16666 Barker Springs Road, 281-492-5494
16515 North Freeway, 713-695-7827
Those who cannot participate Nov. 8 still can make a positive difference, Mohammed said. “Any day they want to bring in furniture, they can call The Furniture Bank, and a truck will pick it up,” he said.
To schedule a donation, call 713-842-9771 or 832-863-1996.
The Furniture Bank, an independent, nonprofit agency, collects and distributes furniture free of charge to people in need that have received housing assistance through a social service agency or charity.
For more information, e-mail

Problems with staffing, medical records, decay slow ID process

Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
Oct. 29, 2008, 8:38AM

• Oct. 25: An older white male found on a jetty near Port Bolivar.
• Oct. 6: A white male, 5-foot-7 to 5-foot-10, found on Goat Island.
• Oct. 4: Elderly woman, 4-foot-11 to 5-foot-2, with missing teeth and possible limp, found on Goat Island.
• Sept. 28: Woman, 30 to 50 years old, 4-foot-10 to 5-foot-1, wearing a black Bally jog bra and a white sock, has one webbed toe and a 7-inch abdominal scar, found on Pelican Island.
If you have information about a Hurricane Ike missing person, call the Laura Recovery Center at 866-898-5723 or 281-482-5723. To arrange to submit DNA samples or supply dental or medical X-rays, call the Galveston County Medical Examiner at 409-935-9274.
It took 18 days for the Galveston medical examiner's office to positively identify the body of 33-year-old Shane Williams by using a partial fingerprint from his index finger — just one of several complications hindering efforts to identify nameless Hurricane Ike victims in the county morgue.
The work has been stymied by limited investigative manpower, the deteriorated condition of the bodies, scattered families, and obstacles in obtaining dental and medical records from doctors in Galveston whose offices are still closed.
''It doesn't matter who is in the freezer at the ME's office, but they need to be identified and the families need to be told," said Fred Walters, who is Shane Williams' half brother and is still looking for his missing mother and grandmother. "It seems to me there should be a better way."
So far, Galveston Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Pustilnik has elected to tackle cases with his own team rather than asking for assistance from special federal forensics experts who can be deployed in disasters.
''Right now, (bodies) are coming in at a rate we can handle," said Pustilnik, who has worked with federal disaster teams. "We have access to an anthropologist, an odontologist, we have X-rayed the bodies, we have DNA kits here. If the county starts excavating debris and finding bodies left, right and sideways — I'll call them."
Four more bodies considered to be Bolivar Peninsula storm victims remain unidentified and at least 15 people from the area remain missing. The latest body was discovered Saturday by fishermen on a jetty off Port Bolivar.
Galveston County emergency management officials are just now seeking bids for a contractor to follow up in excavating debris piles that could hold additional bodies based on preliminary searches by cadaver dog teams.
Dental records help out
Williams' body was among three found by searchers among alligators and storm debris on uninhabited Goat Island on Oct.3. Investigators tentatively identified him based on his age, size and long hair. They got a partial print from his index finger, but it took three experts to make sure the print matched an older smudged fingerprint. The confirmation came last week.
Williams disappeared Sept. 12 when he attempted to evacuate from Port Bolivar around dawn with his mother, his 79-year-old grandmother, and two neighbors. The others remain missing.
John Florence, spokesman for the Galveston County Medical Examiner's office, has urged families of all Ike missing persons to try to locate dental records and X-rays or to submit DNA samples.
Records like fingerprints or X-rays — once obtained — could confirm identities quickly. X-rays reveal unique structures in bones or teeth that can be used to identify bodies that otherwise appear unrecognizable. Verification through relatives' DNA samples would take longer.
Williams' family believes that one of the unidentified women could be his missing grandmother — Marion Violet Arrambide.
But they have so far been unable to obtain X-rays from a Galveston dental office, which was flooded and remains closed, or get medical records from the University of Texas Medical Branch, where Arrambide worked as a nurse for 28 years. The records office only recently reopened.
Because of privacy laws, doctors and dentists are sometimes reluctant to even confirm someone was a patient without a subpoena, family members said.
Similar obstacles beset another Jane Doe storm case, Florence said.
For several weeks, forensic investigators believed they had identified a woman whose body was found on Pelican Island last month. But when Florence was able to obtain 6-year-old X-rays at another storm-damaged Galveston dentist's office, they didn't match. Florence has had to start over.
Moving faster
Medical examiner officials are hoping to find an answer more quickly for the latest storm victim's body — an older white man found Saturday on a jetty by two fishermen looking for flounder.
Pustilnek said his office was able to obtain a thumbprint that — with luck — could be used to find a match with Texas drivers' licenses.