Group of prominent Port Arthur residents demanding accountability from city after Harvey
A group of prominent residents in Port Arthur are demanding accountability from city leaders.
The group is calling itself "Disaster Assist: Help I'm Hurting."
KFDM/Fox 4's Angel San Juan reports organization members say so far city leaders have poorly managed their response to Tropical Storm Harvey.
The group, which includes educators, medical professionals and a pastor, is demanding accountability and coming together to fill a void, they believe, city leaders have left in the wake of the storm.
"We would that again out city leadership would hear the pain and the cry of our people," said Pastor Randy Vaughn of Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church.
The group's members say people throughout the city are hurting.
Members say it's what caused them to form Disaster Assist: Help I'm Hurting.
They say they hope to provide a voice to Port Arthur residents who might feel neglected.
"Many of our people are living in some very horrid conditions," said Vaughn. "They're living in mold-infested houses. Many of our citizens are sleeping their nights in cars. Many of our citizens have lost everything to the point they've lost hope."
The group is demanding accountability from city officials for their handling of Harvey.
Pastor Vaughn claims lack of human responsibility added to mother nature's wrath.
Group members say city leaders did not adequately prepare for the storm.
"We all knew that the hurricane was coming, that it would bring large amount of rain," said retired coach and educator James Gamble.
Another group member agrees.
"There were people in their attics for 14 hours, and I don't know what we would have done without the wonderful people who came and saved people," said retired health director Ingrid Holmes. "They were volunteers."
And now during Harvey's aftermath, the group believes city leaders are failing to help families recover, especially when it comes to housing and health.
"We at the Gulf Coast Health Clinic have seen patients with rashes, patients with upper respiratory problems," said medical doctor Marsha Thigpen.
Group members say instead of reassuring residents, city officials are using scare tactics such as making homeowners of storm damaged homes believe their only option is to elevate their home or to relocate.
"We're losing the population that had one time made Port Arthur what it is, a comfortable place to stay, our hometown," said educator Mary Lathan,
The group wants to move beyond criticism and is reaching out to city officials.
"We've got to restore confidence through positive action, only leadership can do that," said Pastor Vaughn.
In response to this report, a Port Arthur city spokesperson says the mayor and city manager welcome the opportunity to work with groups committed to Port Arthur's recovery and have been doing so since Harvey hit.