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PECOS, MAY 28, 1987 - Red Cross officials say any donations exceeding
their minimum $250,000 budget for Saragosa relief may be refunded, but
local officials note that contributors can be sure where their money is
going by using the county Saragosa Relief Fund.
Donations and pledges to Red Cross for Saragosa reportedly are near or
surpassing a half million dollars.
The county fund, set up as such at both Security State and First
National banks, this morning was growing from a $15,856 total.
The Salvation Army fund at First National totaled $1,075 with more
promised to arrive. These funds, when gathered, will be transferred
directly to the county Saragosa Relief Fund for distribution, said local
Salvation Army Official Bill Oglesby.
The Red Cross is set up totally independent of any local funds. Its
budget will be estimated later today based on how well federal
assistance meets Saragosa relief needs, said Dan Wagener, directing
operations from Balmorhea.
"Red Cross will spend whatever it takes to get the job done here, even
if we haven't raised all the money we need to do it," Wagener said.
"If we were to receive more that necessary, we would notify the
contributors - local and across the nation - and they could elect to
withdraw their donation or contribute it to our disaster relief fund."
Wagener said he is "confident" that contributions so far haven't
exceeded the amount that Red Cross will project to spend in Saragosa
disaster relief operations.
Contributions to Red Cross that have been deposited in its account here
as of this morning totaled $50,000, said Louis Matta of Security State
Reports state that contributions pledged through Red Cross' toll-free
number nation-wide have reached $470,000, and it is uncertain how much
of that has been sent to the Pecos bank.
The budget range for expenses at Saragosa is what the Red Cross calls
Level 4, from $250,000 to $2.5 million.
Wagener said officials would not be able to estimate within that range
until federal aid is determined.
"We are to be in contact with the Federal Emergency Management Agency
folks today," he said. "We'll have a better idea by the end of the day
what Red Cross needs to spend here."
There disaster funds also are used for administrative costs, though much
of those have been offset through donated services and volunteers.
Indeed, only a few of the 40 Red Cross disaster specialists working
Saragosa relief are paid employees, Wagener said.
Though funding is unrelated, county and Red Cross relief workers are
working together to avoid duplication of service.
"I don't know how Red Cross works," Pigman said. "But I know that one
way to make sure the money goes straight to Saragosa is to make your
check to Saragosa Relief Fund and give it to either bank in Pecos."
The Saragosa Relief Fund is being overseen by Reeves County Community
Council and the Pecos Ministerial Fellowship. These and other groups are
actively involved in compiling lists of exact needs of the community.
The departments of Health, Human Services, Mental Health Mental
Retardation have joined others like representatives of U.S. Congressman
Ron Coleman's office in setting up office at Balmorhea schools.
Local health officials also urged those who were treated at area
hospitals to make the follow-up visits that were recommended. Much
documentation is needed, as is the physical follow-up care.
"Chief communicator. Yes, that's what it amounted to," said 30-year-old
George Toone, who was visiting his parents near the doomed town Friday
night. "Everyone else was out rescuing people."
It was Toone's radio broadcasts that passed the word to radio listeners
across West Texas that something terrible had happened.
"Get me ambulance people, get me fire department people," he recalled
yelling into his radio. "I was just hysterical."
Toone, who has been blind since birth, said he was relaxing at his
parents' home on a visit from his home of Seminole when he heard on a
radio scanner that a tornado had been spotted in Interstate 10.
"One of the deputies came on the scanner and said, `Saragosa's gone!'
said Toone, who then began broadcasting on his own battery-powered radio
and sent the first signals for assistance.
He and his father, Dale, then drove into town. The workshop that once
housed the elder Toone's tractors and farm implements had been flattened.
The younger Toone, a former sheriff's dispatcher who owns radio stations
KIKZ-AM and KSEM-FM in Seminole, later hopped into a Reeves County
Sheriff's Department vehicle and operated their radio as well as his own
in a frantic appeal for help.
In the chaotic wake of the twister - which killed 29, injured 162 and
snapped power and phone - he said he could only imagine its fury.
"If you want to know the truth," he told the Odessa American Tuesday,
"I'm glad I couldn't see it."
While rescuers searched throughout Friday night for bodies amongst the
rubble, Toone relayed information from emergency workers to other
He guessed at least 300 sets of ears were tuned to ham radio sets across
the region that night because of tornado warnings issued by the National
A Midland Reporter-Telegram reporter is free today after posting a $500
bond on a charge of disobeying a deputy sheriff here.
Richard Thomas Brown, 31, was arrested Tuesday after he attempted to
pass a funeral procession for victims of the Saragosa tornado.
Reeves County Sheriff's deputies said Brown refused to obey their order
not to go around a roadblock set up to keep traffic out of the
procession from Saragosa Cemetery to Balmorhea Cemetery.
PECOS, MAY 28, 1987 - THey may not have been the most exciting, or the
best played contests, but the Pecos Eagles' four playoff games so far
this year have to go down as one of the most unusual weeks of baseball
in the school's history.
The disaster in Saragosa on Friday night, the half-day search for a dry
field on Saturday, and the quick start of the second round of the
playoffs on Tuesday combined to give the game a far smaller sense of
urgency than in recent years.
A 7-1 or a 5-0 loss in a game pales in importance compared to the loss
of 30 lives in a tornado. That's why Pecos' playoff losses this year
have `hurt' far less than in past seasons.
At the motel following Friday's loss, there was little talk about the
game. Players, their parents and school officials were trying to get
information on the disaster that struck Saragosa, after the storm that
hit Lubbock knocked out both phone and television service to the rooms.
Service was back on the next morning, and while Pecos head coach Bubba
Williams and athletic director Daylon Whitehurst called around West
Texas for hours looking for a field, what happened in Saragosa the night
before was still the main topic of conversation.
Everyone mulled around outside the rooms, then on the half hour stepped
back inside to see new footage of what happened on the Cable News
Network. A circle was formed and prayers were said for the victims, both
at the motel and after the deciding victory over Canyon almost 12 hours
In contrast, the trip to Eunice, N.M., when the final two games of the
series were played, was more farce than tragedy. A caravan of Pecos cars
made the trip with the team bus southwest to Hobbs, where the game was
originally to be played. But Canyon's team and fans had arrived first,
and by the time Pecos reached the Hobbs High School field, Canyon coach
Tony MacPherson said he had already found both that field and the
Southeastern New Mexico State University field unplayable, and was
heading for the nearest dry field in Eunice.
Nobody told the umpire. Nobody told the fans who weren't right with the
group at the field. So as a result, those who made it Eunice spent two
hours just waiting around until things could straightened out.
The wait proved worthwhile for Pecos, of course, but the weekend's
events still were in the forefront during Tuesday's 5-0 loss to
Brownwood. It again put the Eagles one game away from elimination, but
it just didn't feel like it.
That may change by Saturday. Certainly, the Eagles showed they could
come back in defeating Canyon last week. But even if Pecos is outside
from past-season play, it figures to hurt a lot less than it would have
eight days ago.
PECOS, MAY 28, 1987 - As fundraising efforts continue locally, federal
funds to relieve Saragosa also continue to build.
The U.S. Department of Labor has made available $250,000 to help
re-train workers left jobless after the tornado, according to U.S.
Congressman Ron Coleman's spokesman John Jackley.
Jackley said the funds would be available immediately to the state,
which would distribute them as soon as possible.
He said the funds would also be available to Saragosa residents who were
jobless before the tragedy.
Jackley noted that this latest issue of federal funds would not have
been made had Saragsoa not been designated as a major federal disaster
area. That designation by Congress Tuesday made Saragosa eligible for
the highest level of assistance.
Meanwhile, in this area, discount department and grocery stores who
opened their doors for supplies after the 8 p.m. tornado Friday are now
raising money to continue relief efforts.
In addition, Big Bend Coca-Cola out of Fort Stockton today announced
that 340 cases of soft drinks are being trucked to Balmorhea to be
distributed by the Salvation Army.
Among the many local businesses that have assisted in the relief efforts
are Wal-Mart, Gibson's, Safeway and Furr's.
Together, they sent more than $2,000 worth of merchandise to the scene
of the tornado late Friday night. Now they hope to raise that much again
in money for relief to Saragosa.
"We sent about $1,000 worth of merchandise - flashlights, batteries,
water, paper towels, toilet paper and other necessities - down there
Friday night," said Safeway manager Curt Tacker.
"Yesterday, the vice president in El Paso called to see what else is
needed," Tacker said, indicating that financial assistance could be made
Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., has promised to send $1,000
for relief to Saragosa, said Pecos store manager Charles Mann.
The employees have also planned a bake sale at the store from 9 a.m. to
5 p.m. Saturday for the cause.
Wal-Mart on Friday night sent $600 to $700 worth of merchandise to
Saragsoa, Mann said.
While Furr's Discount in Fort Stockton served as a temporary set-up for
Red Cross workers en route to Saragosa, the store here was also sending
supplies to that community.
The Pecos store contributed about $350 worth of food and supplies, and
about $1,500 in merchandise from the Fort Stockton store went with Red
Cross workers to the scene.
Gibson's also did its part both Friday night and in fund-raising efforts
since then, though manager Larry Windham declined to give monetary
"Just say we're glad to do what we can to help, he said.
Fort Stockton Big Bend Coca-Cola spokesman Mike Dunagan said parent
companies of that business are also doing their part.
Truckloads of Coke, Dr. Pepper, and Seven-Up are being sent to
Balmorhea. Each company donated $1,000 worth of its product, Dunagan
Other relief has come in from individuals here as well as organizations
out of state and as far away as Canada.
Emergency services for the Sun Youth Organization in Canada has sent new
toys and clothes and has offered to provide youth camp for 15 to 20
youngsters two to three weeks this summer. The organization also is
sending all types of new furniture, which will be stored in Pecos
Municipal Airport hangers until it can be distributed.
Collections are being taken all over the country through the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, and the state DHS-day care
licensing division is collecting baby clothes as well as funds.
The Texas Association for Community Action Agencies is also gathering
monies from all its offices and has offered to provide for other needs
Other contributions to relief efforts include:
Trinity Lutheran Church of Pecos - adult members raised $1,339, along
with youth group contributions of $265.
W.C. and Barbara Cooper - donated $25.
Michael and Cynthia Allen - donated $200 to go to one family for
Ron and Jerry Meeks of Carlsbad - donated the use of their cabin at Red
Bluff Lake to house a family of three to five members.
Ernest Cogswell of Indiana - clothing and food.
Carl Young - Housing in Barstow; requests no smoking or drinking.
Man from Jasper - flat bed trailer load of refrigerators and stoves.
Leonard Dick of Canada - offer to assist a Saragosa family.
Barry and Holly Williamson, Men's Polo Club of Midland - food, clothing
Brenda Salm of Monahans - fresh fruit and produce, canned goods.
Grandfalls Volunteer Firemen - sent ambulance, now sending food,
clothing and other requested items.
Merchants Fast Motors lines - Pecos resident and local merchants driver
Daren Lackey spent about 40 hours at the scene of the tornado with his
truck. The merchants 45-foot trailer truck is now being used at
Balmorhea for distribution of food and clothing.
First United Methodist Church of Pecos - Donations of $700 made by
Methodists both in and out of town.
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324 S. Cedar, Box 2057, Pecos TX 79772
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