A cruise ship that can temporarily house 1,150 residents affected by Hurricane Ike could be on its way to Orange County by next week.
County Judge Carl Thibodeaux, speaking at this week’s commissioners’ court, said he recently got a call from a brokerage firm letting him know the ship was available.

He was unaware of the ship’s name, but was told it is in the Galveston area housing first responders and will begin to seek a new berth by Friday. 

Details would have to be worked out as far as security and where to dock the ship, he said. However, displaced families could live there until other temporary housing, such as through FEMA, becomes available.

“Right now there are people traveling 60 to 70 miles a day to get to and from work,” he said. “And as far as I know that’s not reimbursable through FEMA.”

The judge added he had sent messages about funding for the ship to the offices of state Sen. Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands), who represents portions of Orange County; and Michael Gerber, executive director of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs.

“The part of FEMA that pays for this type of housing has already expired,” he said. “But that’s nothing new; we’re used to that and hopefully can work around it.”

Earlier in the meeting he joked, “If you’re waiting on FEMA, don’t just bring a lunch. Bring a whole week’s worth of supplies.”

In other business, Thibodeaux told Lisa Roberts, flood plain management coordinator, he would try to get her office more workers to help with inspections. Thibodeaux and Precinct 3 Commissioner John Dubose said they were getting complaints that building permit issuance was dragging.

Roberts responded that even when she inspects a home with minimal damage, it still has be recorded and entered into a computer file, which takes time. Assistant District Attorney Doug Manning, who advises the court on legal issues, added, “We’re talking about some 10,000 houses in all.”

Also at the meeting, commissioners:

• Recognized the Rape and Suicide Crisis Center and October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The center’s Cindy Fertitta said “Ike Emotional Recovery Resource Numbers” include the Mental Health Association, 833-9657; the Samaritan Counseling Center, 1-877-385-3347; and the Disaster Mental Health Service, which provides free counseling for grant periods after a disaster, (409) 839-2284. The center’s 24-hour crisis hotline is 1-800-793-2273.

• Issued a proclamation citing donations of hay to area livestock producers affected by Hurricane Ike. Agricultural Extension Agent Roy Stanford listed donors as the Sweet Double S Ranch and Mike Young of Vidor, Winscott Ranch of Fort Worth, Dustin Jasik Hay Farms of Pleasanton and Jimmy Echols of Richardson; and individuals who made donations through “No Fences.” Also recognized were Iron Horse Logistics of Hockley and Mark Switzer of Bellville for providing transportation of hay and feed.