Guidry News Service has been recognized three times in recent weeks for our coverage of the landfall of Hurricane Ike on September 13 and for serving as the public information office for the Galveston County Office of Emergency Management during the two weeks following the storm.
On March 25, Billy Zwerschke of FEMA, who had been working with Galveston County government since Hurricane Ike, requested time to address the commissioners court, prior to moving on to his next assignment. He thanked several members of the government, as well as others who worked at the Galveston County Office of Emergency Management on Highway 646 in Dickinson in the week's following Ike.
He thanked Guidry News Service, specifically Jim and Lynda Guidry, for helping FEMA communicate with the public during the crisis. Listen: RealPlayer MP3
"When we were in the compound at the EOC when we were all living together...a couple that really went out of their way to see that I got the information," Zwerschke recalled. "I would like to recognize those two as being valuable assets to the Community of Galveston"
On April 2, Galveston County emergency management personnel and other county employees who weathered Hurricane Ike at the EOC, as well as representatives of other organizations who worked at the facility during and after the event, were recognized at a luncheon at Carbide Park in La Marque.
Again, Guidry News Service was honored. Listen: RealPlayer MP3
"They were there as reporters," said County Judge Jim Yarbrough, explaining how he came to ask us to stay at the EOC after the storm. "We got overwhelmed with media requests for public information."
Yarbrough said the mission of the public information office quickly expanded.
"Then it turned into really a communication link for the Bolivar Peninsula residents," he said. "They (had the) Internet capacity to set up these sites where folks from Bolivar Peninsula could get information that they couldn't get because they didn't have the TV; they didn't have some of the communication links that the rest of us were enjoying."
On April 9, The Galveston County Health District presented awards to "Hurricane Ike Public Health Heroes" in a Public Health Week ceremony at Mall of the Mainland.
Again, Jim and Lynda Guidry were recognized. Listen: RealPlayer MP3
"It is my understanding that they were sort of pulled into a PIO role for the county emergency management department, and they did such an incredible job," said Galveston County Health Authority Dr. Mark Guidry. "If you were in the county and you wanted to know what was going on, whether it was public health-related or whether you could enter your area to see your home - just a myriad of things - where to get tetanus shots. If you'd look at Guidry News, you'd find out."
Kurt Koopman of the health district noted that Lynda and I slept in a closet at the EOC.
"She would retire for a little privacy in a closet," Koopman said.
Lynda and I are very pleased with the recognition that Guidry News Service has received for our work during and after Hurricane Ike.
When we started our news service in 1996 and went online soon thereafter, no one knew what a valuable service the Internet would be in a hurricane. Thanks to a constant supply of power and broadband service at the EOC, we were able to continue our service throughout the storm and in the weeks afterward.
But, Lynda and I want to share our kudos with our professional team that kept us going before, during and after Ike.
When we agreed to assume public information responsibilities, it was with the understanding that our business and our publications, GuidryNews.com and Gulf Coast E-news would continue. Thus, Jason Adriance, our webmaster, and Garrett Bryce, managing editor, also spent a considerable amount of time at the EOC during the two weeks following Ike.
Jason responded to the increased number of visits to our website that resulted from our official capacity and we upgraded our service to a larger and faster server in Arizona. Jason later helped convert our telephone system to Voice Over Internet Protocol so that our office and home telephone numbers remained in service.
Garrett reported to duty at the EOC on weekdays to publish Gulf Coast E-news, which kept track of numerous special meetings of city councils and other entities, as well as provided emergency information from FEMA, the American Red Cross and other agencies at the EOC.
Carl Guidry, who had evacuated his home and office in Jefferson County, was available for editing help in Emory, Texas.
Ashley Ayala, who was working as a Disney College Intern in Orlando, Florida, managed our "School Closings" page.
Robert Mihovil and Juan Peña contributed photos that were very valuable to our coverage.
We are very proud that GuidryNews.com and Gulf Coast E-news were able to continue to serve the public without missing a beat.
We also must thank our subscribers and advertisers who have remained faithful following Hurricane Ike.