Chambers County needs searching help

September 26, 2008 8:46:45 PM PDT
Deputies are still searching the debris fields in Chambers County for possible bodies. A survivor was found in the piles days ago as well. ROAD TO RECOVERY: How you can help | School closings | Person locator | Important phone numbers | Assistance from FEMA | Filing a claim | Latest power numbers

Two victims and dozens more missing apparently isn't enough to get state or federal help in the search.

"It's huge," said Chief Deputy Mike Wheat of the Chambers County Sheriff's Department. "The largest undertaking, I've ever been a part of."

These debris fields are unbelievably widespread bordering on panoramic. The marshy mud is thick and it stinks and never seems to end. Deputy Wheat's been searching here for two weeks, Friday with just two other deputies.

"We could use some help," he said.

There are more than 40 debris fields in Chambers County. Two weeks after the storm, this job's been left to Chambers County deputies and a volunteer search group from Houston.

"The search for missing persons is very slow and I don't understand why," said Chambers County Deputy Jimmy Silvia.

Dozens of people are still missing from the Bolivar. There are likely more bodies in this debris. And if as the state says, this storm brought the largest search and rescue operation in state history, it doesn't show here.

The county judge told the state he needs help.

"I would hope there would be people crawling all over southern Chambers County searching those debris fields," Judge Jimmy Sylvia said. "I can't tell you why there's not."

The governor's office told us it put the county in touch with a volunteer search dog group. The dogs had to stop working earlier this week because the mosquitoes were too bad and the county tells us it can't convince FEMA to fly a military plane to spray the debris.

Aside from a few game wardens, no state employee has been here, no national guard. Friday afternoon just those three county sheriff's deputies were searching.

"It gets depressing after you walk across this stuff and you're looking at people's lives stacked up here," Chief Deputy Wheat said. "It's pretty depressing after a while."

Elsewhere in Chambers County, 1,000 homes are now uninhabitable. Around 200 people are still in shelters there. The first FEMA trailer should arrive in Chambers County this weekend.

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