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.