At Mercy Ships, Close Watch Is On Felix's Damage - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

09/04/07-Garden Valley

At Mercy Ships, Close Watch Is On Felix's Damage

Some here in East Texas have been in contact with friends in Central America.  Those at Mercy Ships near Lindale have been on recovery missions after storms before.

While Felix had catastrophic winds, it's the rain, flooding, and landslides that usually cause the most loss of life in Central America.

"All our contacts are safe in that area, but they admitted they have not been able to get out and do an assessment of the area," said Mark Thompson of Mercy Ships Tuesday afternoon. 

He is the Disaster Response Team Leader for the Christian charity headquartered in East Texas.

When Felix finally passes -- with the wind and all the rain -- the prayer is that it's nothing like Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

Pauline Rick, media liaison for Mercy Ships, traveled to the disaster zone after Mitch.

"The scar remains on the mountain as a pretty grave reminder that with another big storm it could pour out a lot of mud again," she says of a mudslide that wiped out several villages.

Mercy Ships has a team of workers just outside of the hurricane zone, with friends also communicating with the group in East Texas.

"The closest account was in the Puerto Cabezas area with blowing wind -- strong blowing winds --  and corrugated metal roofs leaving the premises," said Thompson.

"Where this hurricane came ashore was in the most remote areas of Nicaragua and the southern part of Honduras -- the Mosquito Coast.  It's also unfortunately, the poorest of the folks in those areas. Whether they had a lot of warning for the hurricane we don't know yet," he said.

Pauline Rick's friend William is still okay. He was in a rural area devastated by Mitch.  He lost friends and family and had to relocate his home.

Today, he's had his cell phone and a signal.  In a conversation this afternoon, he told Pauline the wind was very strong, though there had not been so much rain yet.

"These folks don't have the means and the infrastructure to get out of harms way. It could be devastating," Thompson said.

The prayer is that Felix moves fast before flooding can get worse.   Mercy Ships uses hospital ships to bring medical treatment to parts of the world where high-quality care just doesn't exist.  They also have mission workers in many developing countries.  Their international headquarters is in Garden Valley.

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