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State and local capabilities govern decision

No criteria for disaster declaration

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By Bob Litton
Staff Writer

PECOS, JUNE 1, 1987 - No written criteria exist for a presidential
declaration of disaster, a federal official says.

Bob Broussard, coordinating officer for the Federal Emergency Management
Agency, explains that individual agencies - such as the Small Business.
Administration and the Farmers Home Administration - can declare sites
as being disaster areas using their own specific criteria.

The SBA, for example, requires that at least 25 businesses cent
uninsured losses before they declare a disaster, he said.

However, a presidential declaration is "a matter of gathering data,
evaluating it, and coming up with a conclusion as to whether it is
beyond the local and state governments' capabilities," he said.

"There are people who try to set a dollar value," he said. "That's
false, and that is not what is used to determine supplemental

And when the president declares a disaster, he said, the "other
agencies' programs become effective automatically" whether the
community's situation meets their specific criteria or not.

He commended the State of Texas for the work they have done in Saragosa,
destroyed by a tornado May 22. "The governor has committed all the
state agencies," he said. "and they are here. The Department of
Community Affairs is going to be down here doing major repairs and

Also, he noted a "very, very strong voluntary effort in Saragosa, citing
the example of the Salvation Army's cooperation with the state in
obtaining vehicles through the state's motor pool to replace those

Ordinarily, the aging vehicles would be auctioned off, he said, but in
this case their titles will be transferred to individuals in Saragosa.

Within two weeks, he said, FEMA should know who qualifies for a mobile
home and shortly after that the homes will start being set up.

Transportation offered victims

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PECOS, JUNE 1, 987 - Texas Highway Department will provide
transportation from Saragosa to Balmorhea and return for Saragosa
residents who need this service.

Three highway department vans have been designated for this service,
according to Pecos Resident Engineer Fred Clark.

Saragosa residents may call 375-2650 at the Sheriff's trailer in
Saragosa for transportation service.

Unemployment center set up

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PECOS, JUNE 1, 987 - Disaster Unemployment Assistance is available to
Saragosa residents from the Texas Employment Commission, according to
TEC manager Nancy McAnally in Pecos.

Benefits are available to survivors who lost jobs or are unable to work
as a result of the tornado that struck Saragsoa May 22, McAnally said.

Self-employed victims can also qualify for benefits, and in many cases
benefits are available when the head of a household died, McAnally said.

TEC will process claims at the Disaster Application Center in Balmorhea
or at any of their offices, McAnally said.

Eligible victims can go to the designated centers through Wednesday and
must file a claim within the next 30 days to be eligible for assistance,
according to the guidelines.

Persons eligible under this assistance plan may receive benefit payments
for up to one year. More information is available from McAnally at the
Pecos office at 445-5429.

Emergency officials called inept

June 2, 1987

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To the Editor:
While watching a news report about the Saragosa tornado, I was surprised
to hear that the people of Reeves County didn't care enough to have a
proper organized emergency management program. What really amazed me was
the source of this comment and also that he was mad about it.

We, the hams (amateur radio operators) of Pecos, Barstow and surrounding
towns have always tried to be a part of emergency management. We have
met with the current director and also with the previous director. We
have volunteered our services, our equipment and any other thing we
might be able to help with.

Hams take great pride in being able to help in times of need and also
maintain an organized communication network during quiet times. That is
one of the very reasons that the FCC allows us to continue to operate as
we do.

When the planning board was originally set up to establish the current
area EOC and program, we were not invited to be a part of that board.
Still I personally called one of the board members and volunteered our
help and services two times.

We still did not hear anything from the board. We were not asked to set
up communications at the new EOC or even asked what we could do to help.

I believe the people do care. I believe the people responsible for
organizing the Emergency Management Program are inept.

George Douglas
Radio N5ENY


Tragic loss touches heart

June 2, 1987

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To the Editor:
I would like to express my feelings to the people of Saragosa with all
my heart. This has been a very bad tragedy to all of us around this area.

May God help us all to help you all. May God bless us all.

Lynda Baeza

World Church Service sends consultant here

June 2, 1987

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By Reyes Abila
Staff Writer

PECOS, JUNE 2, 1987 - Now that the immediate needs of Saragosa tornado
victims have been met, social service organizations at the disaster site
are mapping their strategy to meet the long term needs of the victims,
according to Gaspar F. Colon.

Colon, a consultant for the interdenominational Church World Service
based in New York, N.Y., was in Saragosa yesterday to begin work as an
intermediary between the organizations already at the site.

The heads of the organizations who are present in Saragosa met there
Monday afternoon and expressed concern over the bipartism distribution
of relief aid they are offering.

"My job is to be a consultant, not an administrator," Colon said. "I am
going to seek and find out degrees of ways with which to put in
communication channels between these organizations."

Communication between the organizations is essential in evenly
distributing what aid is available, according to Colon.

If the long term goals are going to be fulfilled properly each
organization must feel that they have a voice in how their aid is going
to be used, he said.

However, he also stressed that the real job of putting together the
shattered pieces of the Saragosa community will be largely in the hands
of the residents themselves.

"It is something that will come only from the community itself," he
said. "We need to set up a neutral structure that can be used for future
crisis to help prevent any problems."

At the meeting were several representatives from various denominations
and members of several service organizations and federal agents working
to rebuild Saragosa.

"We are here on the long haul," Texas Conference of Churches director
Frank H. Dietz said, "We are here to serve as support and resource."

Dietz, a United Methodist Church member from Austin, also stressed that
are building Saragosa will come from within because the people's
treasured momentous cannot be replaced and the emotional loss they
suffered can be eased but it has to be directly dealth with by the
victims themselves.

The Texas Conference of Churches is a part of 16 denominational groups
working closely together in relief efforts, according to Dietz.

Interfaith and blurring of the dividing lines between religions is a
goal in helping the Saragosa survivors.

Those present at Monday's meeting expressed an interest in interfaith
and blurring the dividing lines between religious groups and service
organizations in order to effectively help the tornado victims.

And according to Myles Berdan, who lost everything to the destructive
tornado including his father, he has seen all the organizations pull
together and successfully help all the victims try and get their lives
in order.

"They are successful in keeping in touch with each other," he said. "We
hear rumors like us getting cars and we go to one and try to find out if
it is the truth and then all of them spread the word if it is true.

"They try to keep their ears open," he said.

Berdan and his sister Janine were scheduled to go to Lubbock to pick up
one of the 60 cars that were donated to Saragsoa residents by the Texas
Automobile Dealers Association.

The Berdans' mother is in the intensive care until at Odessa's Medical
Center Hospital, but is the brother and sister optimistically agreed.

"Things are looking up," Myles Berdan said. "I think when the people
start noticing the aid the government is going to give them they'll want
to stay and rebuild in Saragosa."

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