SOURCE: Save the Children

September 17, 2008 14:45 ET

Save the Children Warns of Potential Health, Hygiene Issues in Texas Shelters

Agency Appeals for Public Support

WESTPORT, CT--(Marketwire - September 17, 2008) - Save the Children is issuing a new appeal for public support to expand its assistance to thousands of Texas families forced from their homes by Hurricane Ike, one of the most destructive storms to hit the Texas coast in decades.

As of Wednesday September 17, the agency has raised $84,000 in private donations, plus an additional $100,000 in gifts in kind, for relief and recovery efforts in Texas. The agency is appealing for an additional $400,000 to continue its relief efforts in Texas.

Save the Children has provided assistance to more than 8,000 displaced children and family members in shelters in San Antonio and Houston and the agency has dispatched emergency staff to Austin to assist displaced families there. In many evacuation centers, staff members report that up to half of the shelter population are children.

"Thousands of families, many with young children, are going to be living in shelters for at least another week and perhaps several weeks," said Mark Shriver, vice president and managing director of Save the Children's U.S. programs. "We are especially concerned about maintaining proper health and hygiene practices in these shelters. Children need a safe place to wash their hands and take a shower and go to the bathroom. Mothers with babies need diapers and baby wipes and safe places for their infants to sleep."

Since Saturday, Shriver said, Save the Children has distributed 50,000 diapers, 50,000 baby wipes and 500 portable cribs donated by Toys"R"Us to provide safe, comfortable environments for infants and toddlers living in the shelters. Save the Children also has distributed more than 3,200 "My Time" activity kits and 1,000 children's books, donated by Scholastic. The activity kits contain books for children ages 5-12 and resources for families dealing with trauma and relocation.

Save the Children today received an additional 50,000 diapers from Toys"R"Us as well as additional baby wash tubs, wash cloths and other materials to maintain proper hygiene.

In addition to distributing supplies, Save the Children has created Safe Spaces for children living in evacuation shelters. Safe Spaces are designed to let children be children, even in the midst of a crowded emergency shelter, and include a supervised area filled with toys, art supplies, books and games.

"This is a very frightening experience for children," said Shriver. "Our staff is providing safe and comforting areas for children within the shelters, but we definitely need more help from the public to continue our efforts."

Editor's Note: Please include Save the Children on a list of agencies supporting Hurricane Ike relief efforts.