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More Saragosa Tornado
The foundations have been laid and doors, windows and other items
readied to "help speed construction time," said Bob Dixon, director of
the Texas Baptist Emergency Task Force.
Dixon said about 80 couples involved in the Texas Baptist Men Retirees
organization are already living in trailer homes and working on the
rebuilding preparations in Saragosa.
The organization comprised of about 175 couples, spends most of its time
building churches 15 so far this year. The expertise of the members make
the retirees organization the "main stackpole," from which other
volunteer laborers are led, Dixon said.
The Texas Baptist Disaster mobile feeding unit is also already on sight,
serving meals to workers.
Red Cross is providing food for the meals and materials for the
rebuilding of homes.
Two families have moved into their new homes in Saragosa, and five
others will do so this weekend.
The goal is to build 15 to 16 more homes this weekend, and perhaps more
if the Red Cross can clear up title and deed problems with four to five
other homes, Dixon said.
Twenty-four homes qualified for Red Cross rebuilding aid, and other
homes in Saragosa are to be funded with Texas Department of Community
Affairs funds. Dixon said Baptist Men may also be involved in that
rebuilding effort at a later date.
The 200 volunteers now working on the scene also include a team of
Mennonites, who rebuilt the first home in Saragosa, and various local
Dixon said many others may assist in the Labor Day rebuilding effort
from Friday morning to Monday night.
"Just bring your bedrolls and tools," he added.
While the retirees have their trailer homes, the incoming volunteers
will be sleeping in Pecos, Balmorhea and Saragosa churches and even a
cotton gin just south of the work site, Dixon said.
Pena about four months ago on the same site officiated a memorial mass
for the victims of the May 22 tornado.
At 4 p.m. on Labor Day, while Texas Baptist Men continue the first major
home rebuilding effort in Saragosa, Catholics from all over the area
will also be celebrating the groundbreaking for the church.
"The Bishop has said all along that we wanted to build the church as the
homes are going up in Saragosa," said sister Dorothy Karies of the
Catholic Diocese of El Paso's West Texas Ministry.
"Having their church going up at the same time will give these people
some hope in their lives," Miss Karies said.
Bishop Pena is expected to make some announcements about other plans for
the people of Saragosa in addition to the church rebuilding. The church
itself is to include classrooms as well as a sanctuary, Miss Karies said.
The church is expected to be completed before the anniversary date of
the tornado, when Bishop Pena is to hold a special mass there, she said.
The Diocese is working on the plans for the church in cooperation with
the Catholic Extension Society, which is providing much of the funds for
the rebuilding effort, she said.
Catholic Charities, which still has an office in Saragosa, is also a
part of the Diocese.
PECOS, SEPT. 8, 1987 - Bishop Raymundo J. Pena from the El Paso Diocese
of the Catholic church led ground breaking ceremonies in Saragosa for a
new Our Lady of Guadalupe church late Monday afternoon.
Nine people participated in the official ceremony, helping to turn the
first spades of dirt. Participating along with Bishop Pena were Father
Daniel Rojas, priest for Saragosa and Balmorhea; Father Edward Slattery
of Chicago, with the Catholic Extension Society; and Sister Judy
Warmbold, representing the Daughters of Charity who will work in
Lay members were Bert Mijares of El Paso, architect for the new church;
Thomas Martinez, Ramona Machuca, Gilda Castillo, members of the Saragosa
church; and Abel Lopez, representing the youth of Saragosa.
Some 200 parishioners and guests attended the ceremony.
The new church will be an 11,000 sq. ft. facility, with a sanctuary that
will seat 400 people, the architect Mijares said. Parish offices will be
housed in the facility, along with a youth retreat center.
Mijares said the new church will be a shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe
and the exterior courtyard will be designed for pilgrimages of up to
Mijares said they hope to have the new church completed by the first
anniversary of the May tornado that destroyed the church.
Bishop Pena said the church will be rebuilt with monies from the
insurance and $22,775 in donations which have been contributed for this
The architectural design for the church was a contribution from Mijares,
who is with Booth, Keirsey, Mijares, Architects, the bishop said.
Speaking to guests following the ground breaking ceremony, Bishop Pena
thanked all the organizations that have rendered aid to the community
since the tornado.
As their hammers echoed in the background, the bishop thanked the
Baptists, who had spent their Labor Day weekend building new homes for
the residents whose homes were destroyed by the tornado.
The Mennonites, whose church members have spent many weeks in Saragosa
helping repair and build new homes, were also praised by the bishop. One
crew had left for home, and another was enroute over the weekend to
begin work at the site, so they were not working over the weekend a
spokesman said later.
Bishop Pena said there are still some 40 families whose homes must be
rebuilt and that the Texas Department for Community Affairs and the
Diocese of El Paso will work together to assure that everyone who was
left homeless by the tornado will have a home.
PECOS, SEPT. 8, 1987 - Texas Baptist Men turned over keys to the owner
of one new home in Saragosa Labor Day, and 19 additional homes were in
varying stages of construction.
Delfina Navarette received the keys to her new home next to the Seventh
Day Adventist Church Monday morning. Volunteers had already contributed
and hung curtains to welcome her home.
Although her home had not been completely destroyed by the tornado,
volunteers found that due to extensive damage they were unable to repair
A review of the situation by officials resuited in a decision to tear
down the damaged structure and rebuild a new home on the site.
Wilton Davis of Dallas, president of Texas Baptist Men, said the Baptist
organization fed lunch to 658 people Sunday, the highest number counted
during the four-day operation.
Baptist volunteers from all over the state traveled to Saragosa to spend
the long holiday weekend rebuilding homes destroyed in the May 22
The organization had three planes and six pilots assisting with the
operation, flying people back and forth and picking up needed supplies.
Two camping areas were filled with camp trailers that had been driven
to Saragosa by the volunteers.
Wilton said Monday that the home for Sophie Gomez was nearing
completion, and would probably be the next one released to its new
Although many of the workers were heading out Monday and today, Wilton
said the group's lead men, about 70 strong, would remain through next
weekend to continue construction of the homes.
"We will finish all 20 homes," Wilton said, referring to the building
sites which had been approved and turned over to the organization.
Wilton pointed to a site where framing was being raised on a newly
poured foundation. He said that site had been turned over to them on
A man will be in Saragosa Tuesday to shoot acoustic ceilings in the
homes, all the door units, sinks and bathroom accessories have arrived,
Painting of the remaining homes is scheduled this week.
Wilton said people keep asking him if his organization is trying to
convert the people of Saragosa to Baptists, and he wanted to make it
clear that they are not.
"We are not trying to make Baptists out of any of them," he said. "When
we serve a brother that is hurting, we've honored God. That is why we're
here. We don't even have a church here."
"We've still got a warehouse at Balmorhea, and we're thinking about
closing it because most of the clothes left have been picked up and
a~ren't as usable," said Ralph Lennon, representing the Salvation Army
in this area.
Assisting the army with that warehouse has been Interfaith, an
organization backed by churches across the country and led primarily by
leaders of churches in Balmorhea, Pecos and Saragosa.
Interfaith now wants to set up a food bank that would stock food and
supplies and be open two to three days a week, Lersnon said. The
Salvation Army would also help with that effort, he said.
The Salvation Army was at Saragosa immediately after and in the weeks
following the May 22 tornado. Volunteers from Pecos, Kermit, Fort
Stockton and other area army organizations helped both on site and in
Balmorhea to distribute clothes and other times to tornado survivors,
This area collected $16,000 in donations to the Salvation Army for
Saragosa, and more than $300,000 was received from contributors across
the country and elsewhere.
The army used the money to issue vouchers to Saragosans for purchasing
neccesities ranging from 300 pairs of shoes to 26 washers and dryers.
Also provided the tornado survivors through Salvation Army funds were
nine stoves, 10 refrigerators, four freezers, seven bedroom suites, 25
mattresses, 23 lounges, hide-a-beds and couches, and dozens of ironing
boards, irons, appliances and other household items.
The donations came from members of the church who dropped money in a jar
set up by their Bible study group, said David Russell of that group.
Russell came to Pecos with a suitcase full of school supplies.
Youngsters in the church were asked to contribute their favorite school
items from a Dr. Seuss book and a Big Chief notebook to Crayolas and a
box of Milk Duds.
Russell gave the money to Reeves County community Council director Mary
Mitchell, who heads the finance committee for the Saragosa Relief Fund.
He personally delivered the suitcase of school supplies during Head
Start classes at Saragosa that afternoon. Teacher Mary Jane Ontiveros
was to distribute the items, which will likely be shared by brothers and
sisters of the pre-school children.
Pecos police are investigating the theft, which occurred at 8 p.m.
Tuesday at the car wash at 1210 S. Cedar St.
Mrs. Jaquez reported that she was vacuuming out her car when a Hispanic
male reached into the vehicle and stole her purse, which contained
assorted papers and the $4,000 in cash.
Nothing else was reported taken in the burglary, police said. No
description of the suspect was available.
Mrs. Jaquez said today that the money was contained in a bank bag. Last
week, she had withdrawn the cash from the Saragosa Tornado Victims' Fund
After plans for distributing the money fell through, she intended to
re-deposit the cash, but she "never made it to the bank," she said.
The Saragosa Tornado Victim's Fund was started with a $700 donation from
the Pecos High School class of 1987 and grew with generous donations
from individuals and groups, Mrs. Jaquez said.
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