GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP)–Millions living along the upper Texas Gulf Coast and north into East Texas on Tuesday were still without electricity after Hurricane Ike swept through Friday night and Saturday, causing the biggest power disruption in Texas history, state officials said.
About 2 million Houston-area residents remained without power Monday night, the Houston Chronicle reported, while 18 mostly rural counties east and north of Houston reported 75-100 percent of residents without power Tuesday morning, according to the website of the Public Utility Commission of Texas.
President Bush was preparing to tour the upper Texas coast on Tuesday.
Southern Baptist disaster relief response continued as teams from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, Texas Baptist Men and multiple states fed evacuees and cleared debris.
More than 100 Southern Baptist disaster relief units are serving along the Texas Gulf Coast and farther inland, with SBTC volunteers continuing relief for hurricane evacuees in Tyler, Livingston, Lufkin, Port Arthur and Huntsville through feeding and chaplaincy, SBTC disaster relief director Jim Richardson said.
Ike’s wide and destructive swath was “catastrophic,” Richardson said, spreading its damage east of Galveston into Louisiana and north into deep East Texas along much of the same area that Hurricane Rita devastated in September 2005.
Among various reports from Texas Baptist churches:
— Noel Vargas, pastor of West End Baptist Church in Galveston, was in College Station on Monday, staying at a Motel 6 as he and his family waited to return to the city. Reports from people there say West Side’s buildings were damaged “but I don’t know how bad it is,” Vargas said in an e-mail to the Southern Baptist TEXAN.
“Our street was flooded so I think our home got flooded as well. My family is doing good…. Please keep us in your prayers,” Vargas wrote.
— David R. Brumbelow, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Highlands, just east of Houston near the Houston Ship Channel, chose to stay home rather than evacuate, chronicling his experience in several pages of notes.
Brumbelow said his church and home sustained some damage, but said it has been a mistake not to stock up on more food or to retrieve his generator that was 75 miles from his home early last week. He spent Sunday night at the church because his home was still without power.
“The force and longevity of Hurricane Ike was incredible,” Brumbelow wrote. “It seemed it would never end. From start to finish it lasted a good 14 hours.
“You are now in a world of ‘haves’ and ‘have nots.’ The ‘haves’ have a generator,” he wrote. “The only news from the outside world was a battery-powered radio.”
— David Fannin, pastor of Nassau Bay Baptist Church, was in Kenya Monday and said church members reported his church and home sustained no major damage. He is helping with a men’s conference there and decided to keep his travel plans despite his living near the coast south of Houston.
“I wasn’t going to let this stop us from doing God’s work,” he said.
On Sunday, most Houston churches followed Mayor Bill White’s request to stay off major roadways for emergency personnel to operate.
On Monday, insurance industry experts estimated physical losses as high as $25 billion from Hurricane Ike, which would make it the third-costliest storm in U.S. States history, according to Deloitte & Touche L.L.P., a New York-based consulting firm.
Jerry Pierce is managing editor of the Southern Baptist TEXAN, newsjournal of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.