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Volume 11, No. 3 Winter 2008
Letters From The Frontline
Tony Speakman confers with members of Assumption as cleaning and repairs of the church get underway. IOCC responded to Hurricane Ike with trauma counseling and emergency supplies. (Photo credit: IOCC Baltimore)
Galveston, Texas — Tony Speakman’s home is in shambles. As owner of the Speakman Construction Company, he estimates he has lost $60,000 worth of building materials. It all matters little to Tony Speakman though

He has other priorities, energy to devote elsewhere. Speakman, who lives just outside Galveston, is determined to rebuild his church – singlehandedly, if necessary.

Hurricane Ike leveled Galveston during the early morning hours of September 13. Included in Ike’s destructive path was the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church, unprotected and uninsured from the raging Gulf waters.

“Seeing the church destroyed hit me pretty hard,” said Speakman, who serves on the church’s parish council. I met Speakman when I went down with a group of volunteers from IOCC known as the Frontline. IOCC responded to Hurricane Ike with trauma counseling and by delivering a shipment of medical and hygiene supplies to American Red Cross shelters.

Speakman plans on rebuilding Assumption, no matter the cost to his own business. Currently, he has a crew of 12 working on the church. He says the church can be rebuilt by next spring but estimates the cost will be between $1.25 - $1.5 million. He does not know exactly where the financial support will come from, but he is prepared to dig deep into his own pockets.

Assumption’s membership is approximately 90 families, 40 of which are active. Nearly all its members have some level of insurance coverage, according to Speakman. The church, however, did not have the necessary coverage.

“Several families have been totally wiped out,” Speakman said. “Even those who were not have been hit pretty hard and have sustained some level of damage. They’re all just trying to get their lives back in order and are trying to clean up their own homes.”

— Father Marc Vranes, IOCC Frontline

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