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PECOS, JUNE 4, 1987 - Drive down the highway now and what looked most
enduring, what once appeared most substantial to the casual glance, is
now gone. It was the very weight, the substance, the concrete and steel,
which when it gave way was most deadly.
"Why?" is a question without meaning. Oh, it may express human anguish
and pain. The torment of unexpected loss may find expression in the
heartfelt "Why?" But the answer to Job is still the answer to us: God's
creation is too big, His purposes too grand, His ways too high, His
wisdom too encompassing ... the question, the one that really when
answered sets our hearts at peace, is "Is God good?"
Never does the Bible entertain limitations to God's ability. Never is
He, like the gods of ancient Greece, trapped in the framework, the
mechanics, of His own creation so that He is unable to do whatever He
Does God work all things together for good for those who love Him and
who are called according to His purposes? Is He able to do exceedingly
abundantly beyond all we know to ask or expect? Are we precious in His
sight red, black, yellow, brown, white? Does He love us? Is God good?
We each must answer that for ourselves. The answer comes within as we
walk with Him. God proves Himself in the experiences of life.
Name one good thing about the tragedy of Saragosa? I saw Anglo and
Hispanic working side by side to find life and save it no one was
speaking of race or color. Foodstuffs poured in until authorities had to
declare a super abundance. The same was true of clothes and blankets.
Not just families looking after relatives; It was more than the rallying
of Hispanic to help Hispanic. Persons were helping persons. Did anyone
here mention that Saragosa is almost entirely Hispanic in population or
that there is no wealth there of which to take note? I didn't hear that
mentioned. But I did see churches of all faiths hurrying to mobilize the
help needed. Retired ex~ecutives, business men, housewives - all kinds
of folks were involved.
Now ask, "Why?", for now the question is appropriate.
So much is made of "racial tension. " By a nationally organized network
of news fashioners we are fed a constant diet of conflict, of deceit, of
trusts not kept, of bitter social quarrels, of economic woes. But look
at the fact of Saragosa. It is no starry-eyed tale dreamt by an
inveterate optimist. It is the very essence of reality. It really
happened! In the hour of need, when tragedy beset a small secluded
community almost entirely Hispanic, Pecos and surrounding communities
girded up without discrimination, without an eye to color, or religious
preference, or economic status, and embraced the survivors wrestling
together to find those lost, praying together in the hospital, pouring
out a super abundance of food, clothing whatever was needed.
"Why?" Is it not because there are bonds here stronger than we have
perhaps realized. Because in the face of another, during a time of
desperate need, it is not color we see. Because in the struggle to save
lives in agony, economic status doesn't seem to matter. I speak of fact!
For it happened. Right here. We have been participants.
Is it a fiction to say the walls of discrimination cannot crumble easily
enough if we see something that captures our attention and seems to us
of infinitely greater importance. Can folks really never learn to live
and share? Can there not be a deep bonding affection and mutual concern
between the various persons of an entire community? But, why even ask
the questions. The answer we already know. For we have seen the fact; we
have been a part of the deed; we know the truth!
This matter of helping one another, of loving instead of .sating, of
getting acquainted instead of letting ignorance and fear separate - it
is not new. Such was the faith of our fathers. Nor does it have to
surface only in emergency. We can live it daily. Of course we will need
help. Help from Above. And it won't always be easy. But that it can be
done is embedded in fact, in living reality. We did it!
And if we let the truth slip through our hands, if old ways eventually
prevail suspicion, distrust, hatred, division, indifference - then evil
has prevailed. And the good which God would fashion out of the blood,
death, and agony has been, at least on the community level, rejected.
Let's build! Not alone, but with God! Let's build not just houses and
fences and new stores. But homes and friendships, understanding and
affection. We cannot solve the metro problems or the global cultural and
economic issues, others will have to face their own difficulties. But we
can build something here. We can overcome our problems. We have already
begun. It's just a matter of dedicating ourselves to keeping on doing it.
"Each noble service that men have wrought
was first conceived as a fruitful thought;
Each worthy cause with a future glorious,
by quiet growing becomes victorious. "
Clyde Daughhtee, office manager at the Agricultural Stabilization and
Conservation Service in Pecos, said most of 700 acres of hail-damaged
cotton on the Mower Ltd. of Pecos farm can be replanted.
The tornado itself destroyed another 50 to 60 acres of cotton plants on
the R.V. Turnbough farm near Saragosa., Daughhtee said, but it too can
be replanted this season and therefore does not qualify for disaster
"Overall there wasn't that much (crop) damage from the tornado,"
Daughhtee said. "At least, the farmers would be coming to see me because
I'm the one who takes care of that, but the only one who has done so has
been Mower Ltd."
A.B. Foster said l50 acres of late cantaloupes on his farms that were
destroyed can also be replanted and that another IS0 acres of onions
"I expect them to grow back and make a pretty good crop," he said. "It
won't affect our packing; operation."
The fiesta is being held to raise money to benefit the Saragosa Relief
Los Galleros, mariachi band will perform. Food booths will be set up.
For more information contact Teofilo Madrid. at 445-9218.
PECOS, JUNE 4, 1987 - Equating the loss of human life and loss of
property experienced by Saragosa residents with the loss of animal life
and animal injuries would be considered an injustice by most people.
However, almost anyone venturing into the pens at local veterinarian
Ronald Box's animal clinic where two injured horses remain would likely
The still frightened animals are walking around with numerous scabs and
large lacerations in their flesh. ~
Box said that ~ none of the animals brought to the clinic lied, but
several animals found the tornado site including some pigs, milk cows
and about four hogs had to be put to sleep because of the severe
injuries they had received.
Several of the six animals treated at the clinic received fractures,
lacerations and bruises, according to Box.
"Everything was scared to death," Box said about the animals he found at
the tornado site. "We found a lot of dogs under the rubble and you
didn't know if they were going to bite."
Most of them were frozen," he said. "They didn't want to move. One mare,
we practically had to push her about a quarter of a mile to get her to
Luckily, the mare Box was talking about is one of the two injured
animals that remain at the vet clinic and is improving. However, she was
hit by debris which tore chunks of tissue off her body including her
face and she suffered several lacerations.
"The other day I was checking the scabs and I felt one scab that felt
like a hard piece of wood," Box said. "I went and got a pair of pliers
and I pulled out a six-inch piece of sliver wood."
"I think it could have been the mare rolling around or she could have
been hit by some flying lumber," Box concluded.
One of the more seriously injured horses appeared to be recovering
before she was taken to an area ranch, and is now in deteriorating
condition, according to Box.
The mare, which belongs to Saragosa resident Joe Gallego, recently gave
birth, but the colt died a few days later and the mare's condition is
The animal about which Box feels more saddened and the one he found
harder to put to sleep was a dog which had suffered an amputated leg
earlier in its life.
The dog, which also belonged to the Gallegos, had grown old and was
considered part of the family, Box said. id at 445-9218.
Herrera, who lost his wife and infant child in the May 22 disaster,
headed home to Pecos with the governor's orders: "Go to work. "
"I think it will serve a great purpose. He has a lot of friends out
there. He's been on the school board out there. He's been with the
Department of Human services. He understands the circumstances,"
Clements said after - half-hour meeting Thursday with Herrera.
Herrera has been a DHS employee in the region for nearly seven years. He
was a speaker at the Head Start graduation ceremony in the Saragosa
community center that was hit by the tornado.
Herrera said he had asked to meet with the governor to counter some
negative publicity he believed Clements received immediately after the
"I had just come down here to thank him and show him we do have support
for him," Herrera said. "When he went to Pecos and the Saragosa area the
last time ... he got some very negative press. Emotions were running
"I asked him not to forget the people after two or three or four months.
People are so afraid that two or three months from now, all this
abundance of help is just going to cease. They don't realize that people
are going to be there (helping) for years," he said.
Herrera was a student at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls
when that city was hit by a tornado in April 1979. He said he helped
with Red Cross relief efforts after that storm.
"He was at Wichita Falls when the tornado came through there. He
understands the process. He saw how it worked in Wichita Falls. He can
relate Wichita Falls to what happened in Saragosa. I think it's going to
be a very good arrangement," Clements said.
Herrera said he was pleased to get the opportunity to work with the
state and federal relief efforts at Saragosa.
"I don't have a family anymore. I lost my wife and my only child in this
accident," he said. "I still want to stay in that community. This is the
place I'd like to be helping these people."
Final deadline to apply for federal disaster assistance from FEMA is
July 27, according to MA public affairs officer Wynn Henderson.
Aid will be distributed by the temporary Housing and Individual and
Family Grant program, according to FEMA which as applications from 76
residents for temporary housing under the program, and 94 who have
applied for grants.
Grants range up to $5,000 to replace the essential needs of the victims,
The Individual and Family rant program is scheduled to receive $400,000
from the federal government which is the government's 75 percent share
of the state-administered program. The state provides the remaining 25
percent, according to a FEMA.
A total of 119 Saragosa tornado victims have applied for federal, state
and volunteer agency assistance, a FEMA spokesman said.
Under the temporary housing program, $50,000 will be provided to cover
housing rental payments or home repairs and another $600,000 will be
allocated for mobile homes which will provide temporary and possibly
permanent shelter for the victims, according to FEMA.
FEMA will provide $60,000 to cover transport and set up costs for the
mobile homes which will be located at a mobile home park on donated land
near Saragosa, FEMA said.
The Small Business Administration has issued 27 loan applications to 17
individuals and 10 businesses for possible low cost disaster loans,
according to FEMA.
The Internal Revenue Service has also talked to 43 people about tax
refunds and the Social Security Administration has helped 19 victims in
disaster unemployment assistance and has received about 56 other claims,
according to FEMA officials.
The FEMA office in Balmorhea was closed this week but FEMA officials can
be reached at their office at the Saragosa tornado site, the FEMA public
affairs officer said.
Further assistance will be given to tornado victims next week when the
committee appointed by Reeves County Judge Bill Pigman plans to
distribute $20,000 to Saragosa residents who were affected by the
tornado, according to Mary Mitchell who was appointed to the committee
The committee is directing about $50,000 in unrestricted funds which
have been donated under the Saragosa Relief Fund accounts at both Pecos
Banks, Mitchell said.
Beginning on June 10, the committee will distribute funds to those with
last names that begin with the letters A through M; victims whose last
names begin with the letters N through Z will be talked to on Thursday
and anyone not located during those days will be asked to contact the
committee on June 12, according to Mitchell.
All residents applying for aid must contact the committee during those
days when they are in Saragosa, she said.
The second distribution will begin June 15 and will last a week. Monies
distributed during the week will be based on the amount of loss the
family suffered, she said. First priority will be given to children who
lost their parents followed by children who lost one parent and parents
who lost small children, Mitchell said.
Any money not claimed will go back into the fund and distributed to each
subsequent category that the committee ha set up, she said.
PECOS, JUNE 5, 1987 - Construction of a temporary mobile home park to
house tornado victims in Saragosa may begin next week if Reeves County
Commissioners complete an agreement with a Mineral Wells contractor
The commissioners voted in an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon to
negotiate a contract with Bill Richardson of Circle Sales in Mineral
Wells to develop and set up a temporary mobile home park on 18 acres in
Ed Laundy, state coordinator for the Texas Division of Emergency
Management, said the land, which belongs to the ~Seventh Day Adventist
Church, are one of two sites offered for an 8-month period.
The other location is unsuitable, Laundy said, because it is subject to
flooding and the time and expense of filling it in would take away from
time that could be spent setting up the Mark.
Juan Gil, a temporary housing officer for the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, handed the commissioners specifications for the park.
Laundy said preliminary planning calls for the placement of as many as
40 homes, but that immediate installation involves only 20.
He had talked with 26 prospective dwellers, he said, eight of whom said
they would use the mobile homes at the park and one aid he would like to
have his laced on his own property convenient to a planned septic tank.
Dwellers will be offered the opportunity of buying the mobile homes at
the end of the 18 month period, Laundy said, but they will not be able
to buy the lots.
County Judge Bill Pigman said all the persons who would occupy the
mobile homes already own property in Saragosa.
Local disaster coordinator Armando Gil Jr. said federal regulations
which require that the contractor be state-licensed eliminates local
contractors. Juan Gil said FEMA has worked with Circle S after a
similar disaster in Mississippi.
Laundy said the contract should contain a clause saying the county will
cover 25 percent of the cost of developing the park, but that if the
county does not have the money, the state will pay it.
However, the state will require the county to pay engineering fees and
maintain the property, he said.
In a separate action, the commissioners appointed Wes Elliott to do the
They also approved Pigman's appointment of individuals to two disaster
Members of the building committee are Tommy Martinez, Dale Toone, Gus
Natividad, Joe Gallego, Ismael Dutchover, Felipe Lopez and Daniel
Brijalba. Members of the financial committee are Mary Mitchell, David
Bugg, Jim Ingham, Sister Julietta and Braulia Natividad. Ex officio
members are Ron Armbruster and Jack McGowen.
For the past few days, my family and I were at Saragosa helping Bob and
Peggy Walker to salvage what little they have left.
Although their home, car, truck, stock trailer, barns and personal
things were destroyed, Peg and Bob, thank God, are fine.
From day one, everyone was offering help. Thanks to Wilson Indep.
Production of Midland, who cleared paths for us to get in to help Peg
We want to say thanks to the Red Cross, First Baptist Church and the
Salvation Army for their offerings of food, drinks and dry clothing.
They were all so nice.
Bob and Peggy are so lucky to have so many friends. They all came out to
help.Thanks to so many, many, many.
Thanks for your concern for Bob and Peg and all the folks of Saragosa.
Our prayers are with the folks of Saragosa. With God's help, Saragosa
will make it. I know Peg and Bob will.
Mr. and Mrs. DOYLE FORD
and 22 other relatives of Bob and Peggy Walker
Did everybody forget vet?
To the Editor:
While all the tragedy in Saragosa was in the news media, everybody was
shocked and sad.
It was carried here and around the Permian Basin.
(Something that) really bothered me was what about the animals. Did
everyone forget to mention our veterinary doctor?
Dr. Ronald Box was there all night and went back again Saturday. He was
trying to treat animals and carried some to his clinic. A lot needed to
be put to sleep.
So from a lot of us pet owners, thank you, Dr. Ronald Box. You're so
considerate. Pecos and surrounding small towns like Saragosa should
thank this fine veterinary doctor. Hats off for an Aggie!
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