Jefferson group to seek disaster relief

Published 4:47 pm Friday, April 13, 2018

It was beyond standing room only.

People were filed outside the building when a first step was taken in meeting unmet needs Thursday night when the Tri-County Disaster Rebuild Long-Term SETX group met at New St. John Baptist Church in Port Arthur.

The Rev. Claude Comeaux Jr., church pastor, told the audience they wanted to make sure everyone present would get disaster recovery assistance and make things available for everybody.

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The Rev. Demetrius Moffett, pastor of Orange Church of God, is president of the organization and said Tri-County SETX will coordinate relief activities for Jefferson, Orange and Hardin Counties for the long-term recovery of areas affected by Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey.

Tri-County SETX has already been implemented in Orange and Hardin Counties. Many in the audience wanted to know why Jefferson County is last. Moffett said that answer would have to come from the office of Jeff Branick, Jefferson County judge.

A kick-off meeting is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. April 24 at Port Arthur Memorial High School, 3501 61st St. in Port Arthur. The event is hosted by Help! I’m Hurting! However, Branick, said this is not the official kick-off sponsored by the county.

He said the official meeting will be scheduled to solicit volunteers to serve on committees and select an executive director for the board as soon as the structure is in place to do so.

“This is a bit premature (scheduling the kick-off meeting by HIH),” Branick said. “It’s a complicated issue. We’ll be ready to go as soon as the others are ready to go.”

Moffett said when insurance and/or the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration’s assistance is insufficient, it’s vital to attract large donations from foundations and businesses: churches, non-profit organizations, private entities and citizens.

“The three (county) judges (Jefferson, Orange and Hardin Counties) shared a vision we’re stronger together. This will be based on a region,” Moffett said.

The organization will consist of a long-term recovery executive board with three representatives from the three counties; subcommittees consisting of an advisory board, an unmet needs committee, a volunteer committee, a construction committee, a fundraising committee and a crisis counseling/spiritual care committee.

“It took us three meetings to get the committees set in the Orange County meeting,” he said. “Y’all will be able to hit the ground running. Jefferson County won’t suffer a lag time like Orange County.”

Moffett said the subcommittees are where the meeting attendees are needed. He urged them to attend the county’s kick-off meeting so they can get on a committee and help others to get into the system.

“It will take everyone in the room to take care of Jefferson County,” he said. “You know the people you know. You may have kids who are computer savvy and they can spend their time in community service.”

One attendee said many in Port Arthur are elderly or disabled people who have no access to technology. She wanted to know how they will get their needs met.

Moffett said that’s where the volunteer committee steps in and helps people get resources they need.

Moffett said there are different avenues to get the information out: Tri-County SETX has a Facebook page, an email address at, word of mouth, working in conjunction with city officials and non-profit organizations and other forms of social media.