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More Saragosa Tornado
Natividad doesn't speak for all
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PECOS, FEB. 19, 1988
To the Editor:
I have lived all my life in Saragosa, so I think it is only my right and
duty to say what I feel and to know what is happening in my town.
I have been very upset because since the day Braulia Natividad started
interfering, the rest of us people can't say or do anything without
having her twist everything all around to her benefit. One thing I want
to know is why does it have to be Braulia who has to represent the town
Would it not have been better and wiser for someone who has lived the
major part of their lives here? Braulia, herself had not lived in
Saragosa for too long before May 22, 1987.
Since then she has moved to Balmorhea where she lives in a very
"expensive and large" home> How can it be that she states that her
family was financially wiped out and yet be able to afford such a home?
Braulia is always telling us, the people on the other side of town, how
it felt to have your world tumbling down you, yet she wasn't even in
town the day of the storm. So how is it that she understands it so well?
Why is it that whenever an outside party comes to Saragosa to distribute
donated money, toys, food "frozen chicken", or anything else for that
matter, she has to stand up and decide only to which families they will
go, when there is enough for all.
Many longtime residents of Saragosa fell that the distribution of items
would have been more equal and run more smoothly had Braulia's greed not
gotten the best of her. That is, hers and her friends.
First of all, I want to make it known that the staff and editor of the
Pecos Enterprise are doing a fine job of reporting the news, as well as
distinguishing between fact and rumor. Any accusations to the contrary
are completely unfounded.
Think about it. Had the Enterprise not followed up on that Austin
American-Statesman article (which, by the way was a front-page story),
the voters of Reeves County may never have gotten the full story on
Sheriff Florez and his mishandling of the Saragosa situation. It appears
to me that Florez had taken on some extra jobs that he had no business,
or authority, dabbling in. Florez' job was to secure the disaster area
as a law enforcement officer, not accept donations.
The sheriff has always played on the racial issue. I am a
Mexican-American, and I don't buy it. I don't challenge the fact that
Florez can be a good man. He has helped many people who were in need.
But he has also taken advantage of that good faith, and the good of all
of Reeves County has subsequently suffered.
How can so many people simply judge a man like Eddy Markham as someone
who would turn the sheriff's department upside-down if elected?
He certainly deserves a chance to make things better for the county.
Florez has had plenty of chances, 12 years worth, and his about
exhausted his share of excuses. He can have all those law enforcement
awards that don't exist that the claims he won. Like I said before, I
don't buy it.
Furthermore, Markham has recognized a part of the community that Florez
has hardly acknowledged - the young voter. That "new image" is
desperately needed. If Pecos is to keep from dwindling into a dying
ghost town, it must begin with the youth. They are the future of Reeves
County. We must turn away from the old ways and make a fresh start as
far as the sheriff's department is concerned.
March 8th is a "report card day" of sorts, and Florez must answer to the
voters. Eddy Markham has my whole-hearted support because I am a voter..
and Florez didn't make the grade.
PECOS, FEB. 29, 1998 - Sandra Kelly was the only Reeves County Sheriff's
Office employee to give a deposition Friday to attorneys for citizens of
Saragosa seeking to learn how donations following the tornado were spent.
Kelly, a jailer, handled donations of material goods and money in the
weeks following the disaster. Records of receipts and invoices on items
paid are on file with the district clerk.
Attorneys are questioning each person who signed the invoices.
County Attorney Scott Johnson said that Kelly's testimony is lengthily,
and it will be continued March 10, along with others summoned to appear
Plaintiffs who filed for the Bill of Discovery in district court were
Johnson said that the depositions will be sealed, at the request of
Texas Rural Legal Aid attorneys representing Saragosa residents.
Attorneys will study the testimony to determine whether further
investigation or civil charges are warranted, Johnson said.
"They'll be sealed until one of the parties makes a motion to unseal
them," he said.
PECOS, FEB. 29, 1988 - 143rd District clerk Juana Jaquez today paid the
$4,000 that she reported was stolen from her in September, money that
had been donated for Saragosa relief after the May 22 tornado.
Mrs. Jaquez early this year turned over some $2,000 that had remained in
the bank, and some $700 more that had been pledged to that account was
also to be turned over today.
All the monies have been designated for the Children's Endowment Fund,
established by the Saragosa Foundation to benefit the 22 children who
lost one or both parents in the tornado.
The endowment fund was begun in late August with about $1,000 that had
been donated by country singers Tony Joe White, Willie Nelson and Waylon
Jennings in late August.
Today, about three months before the first anniversary of the disaster,
Saragosa Foundation president Tony Gallego accepted the last monies that
had been donated to the relief fund Mrs. Jaquez set up as a concerned
citizen in the weeks following the tornado.
In addition, Mrs. Jaquez paid $94 more for interest that was earned and
would have been earned on the $4,000 had it remained in the bank through
Regarding the Sept. 29 theft of the money as reported to Pecos police by
Mrs. Jaquez, she had explained at that time that she withdrew the money
about a week earlier with the intention of having it distributed to
After plans for distributing the money fell through, Mrs. Jaquez
intended to re-deposit the cash, but she "never made it to the bank"
according to previous reports.
Around 8 p.m. on Sept. 29, Mrs. Jaquez reported that she was vacuuming
out her Suburban at the car wash on Cedar Street when a Hispanic male
reached into the vehicle and stole her purse, which contained assorted
papers and a bank bag with the $4,000.
"It was like a bad dream," Mrs. Jaquez said today. "I called myself
every name in the book, but nothing helped."
She said the days and weeks that followed were "sheer torment" for her.
"I finally pulled myself out of it," Mrs. Jaquez recalled. "I told
myself I wouldn't make things better by making myself sick. But I hope
it's all over."
Mrs. Jaquez was one of many county officials and others involved in
Saragosa relief efforts who were interviewed recently in depositions
taken by Texas Rural Legal Aid attorneys.
She says today that her "misfortune couldn't have come at a worst time,"
amid allegations of stolen goods and mishandled funds.
Mrs. Jaquez said the only thing she is guilty of is carrying that money
in her purse, although she only had it there two days and not any longer
as has been reported.
"I just couldn't believe what was happening," she said today "I know
some people questioned my integrity, but hat's human nature, and I leave
them for God to judge."
But Mrs. Jaquez did find some good in the whole situation.
"I also found that I have many friends who will stick with me through
thick and thin and I thank God for that," she said.
"I hope the people in Saragosa know that I would never do anything to
hurt them. I have always been there for them and will continue to be
there if they need me."
Mrs. Jaquez said legal Aid helped work out the agreement between herself
and the Saragosa Foundation to get the full amount donated to the
disaster relief account she had established, plus interest, to Saragosa.
"Talk about pain," Mrs. Jaquez said. "I didn't think anything would hurt
worse than losing that money, but believe me, having to pay it out of my
own pocket hurts a thousand times worse.
"I only hope that the person who took it needed more than the people in
Saragosa or more than I do, for that matter."
Mrs. Jaquez said she chose the endowment fund among several options for
use of the money she turned over.
It is sad to read all this bad publicity about Saragosa.
I wonder if all this fighting for material things and money is worth it,
to the families who lost a loved one that day.
When I read about Saragosa, I remember about that day. I can imagine
people who were there that day and how they feel. I am not talking just
about the foundation people, but all of the people.
It is time to let something good come out of that day, May 22, 1987.
Think about it!
Ana B. Contreras
Editors: Note: You are absolutely right!
I'm sure it must be hard enough to wake up every morning to the memory
of a loved one or loved ones who were lost that fateful May evening.
But now, when one of those survivors comes home from a hard day's work
and wants to relax with the evening paper, they read about all of the
accusations and in-fighting that is taking place with the donations of
goods and money that was supposed to be theirs in the first place, yet
from which they are only now beginning to benefit.
And to top it all off, a promotional spot for a Midland-Odessa
television station now uses the tragedy to boast about how they were
"first on the scene" with live pictures. Can you believe the gall of
what's worse, can you image the reaction of a Saragosa resident
innocently watching this station only to see footage of the disaster
with some smiling faced bleached-bone telling them how bad it really was?
Still, the sad fact is that this catastrophe was national news. And you
can bet that it will remain national news until some other natural
disaster takes its place.
Editor and Publisher
The National Weather Service in Midland in offering the three-hour
severe weather spotter training session, which will feature information
on the May 22 tornado in Saragosa.
Feb. 28 through March 5 has been designated Severe Weather Awareness
Although April through June are the months when unstable weather
conditions are most conducive to tornadoes in Texas, they and other
severe weather conditions can occur any time of the year.
Last year, Texas led the nation in tornado deaths with 42 of the 59
fatalities nationwide. All but one of those killed in Texas died in just
two weather systems, the Saragosa tornado that killed 30 and the Nov.
15-16 East Texas tornadoes that resulted in 11 deaths, the Texas
Insurance Advisory Association reported.
The TIAA makes the following recommendations to local residents:
*Know the difference between a watch, meaning that conditions are ripe
for formation, and a warning, meaning one has been spotted and danger is
imminent. During a tornado warning, take cover immediately in a basement
of bathroom closet or, if in a mobile home or car, in the nearest ditch
*After the storm, be alert for potential hazards such as broken power or
gas liens, shattered glass and splintered wood.
Take photos of damage and notify an insurance agent as soon as possible
and make a detailed list of all damages. If debris prevents use of the
home, advise insurance officials of this. Meanwhile, take temporary
precautions such as boarding up broken windows to prevent further damage.
*Be prepared for severe weather losses by updating insurance coverage
annually and by having an inventory of all household furnishings and
possessions with photos of each room. The TIAA also advises keeping
emergency supplies on hand, including a portable radio and flashlight
with fresh batteries.
To be most prepared for severe weather, local residents will want to
know how to to watch for it, said local Emergency Management Agency
coordinator Armando Gil.
He encourages businesses and offices to send representatives to the
training session because of the valuable information to be presented.
Topics for the session will range from the weather service's warning
systems to ways of identifying and reporting tornadoes and types of
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