SOURCE: Save the Children

September 11, 2008 13:37 ET

Keeping Texas Children Safe From Hurricane Ike

Save the Children Responds Throughout the State

WESTPORT, CT--(Marketwire - September 11, 2008) - Save the Children has dispatched an emergency response team to Texas to assist thousands of children and families who are evacuating their homes to escape fast-approaching Hurricane Ike, which continues to gather strength in the Gulf of Mexico.

Save the Children, which helped thousands of displaced families along the Gulf Coast last week following Hurricane Gustav, plans to provide similar assistance to help meet the basic needs of infants, toddlers and older children in the evacuation centers in Texas.

Following Hurricane Gustav, the agency distributed over 80,000 diapers, baby wipes, and hundreds of play cribs to assist families with young children in some twenty mass shelters in Louisiana and Mississippi.

With support from the American Red Cross, Save the Children is preparing to establish Safe Spaces for children in Texas shelters as it did for displaced children following the Gustav evacuation. Safe Spaces are designed to help protect children and provide a chance for them to interact with peers and caring adults. Safe Spaces make it possible to establish a sense of normalcy, even in the midst of a crowded emergency shelter, by offering children and families a supervised area filled with toys, art supplies, books and games.

Save the Children is also working with child care networks throughout Texas. Once families can go back to their homes, Save the Children plans to work to ensure that child care centers can quickly re-establish services and schools can rebound so students do not fall behind in their education.

"Children are extremely vulnerable during an emergency and evacuation," said Mark Shriver, Save the Children's vice president for U.S. programs. "We know from experience that their needs are often overlooked during the confusion before, during and after a disaster. Save the Children will be there to provide safe activities for children in shelters and to help them and their parents return to the normalcy once the danger has passed."

"We are also concerned about maintaining sound health practices at the evacuation centers," Shriver said. "In Gustav shelters we found that many families had no way to wash their clothes, and young mothers had to bathe their babies in sinks used by hundreds of other shelter residents. We will be working with shelter officials to see if we can improve the level of hygiene maintained at the shelters."

Save the Children is the leading independent organization creating lasting change for children in the United States and in more than 50 countries around the world. For more than 75 years, the agency has been helping children survive and thrive by improving their health, education and economic opportunities and, in times of acute crisis, mobilizing assistance to help children recover from the effects of war, conflict and natural disasters.