Authorities respond to emergency ration allegations

BROADDUS, TX (KTRE) - Following Hurricane Ike the Brownlee and Dominguez families of Powelltown say they took the emergency rations that were offered to them. " We got seven boxes of food and water and ice and brought it home, " said Frank Dominguez in an earlier report. A complaint claimed they were stockpiling it.     Broaddus volunteer firefighter Michael Hile went with a sheriff's deputy to investigate and said he found the families with more than their fair share. " We saw that the complaint was true. Nine cases of MRE's and 11 cases of water for one family of two people is a much. "

He takes exception to the neighbors saying that authorities called them  liars, thieves and  threatened to arrest them. Both men say none of that happened. San Augustine County Sheriff's Deputy Bob Lowe said, " No, I never accused them of stealing it and I made sure I let them know that in no means were they in any trouble. " Hile says the allegations are difficult to hear when he and other volunteers spend so many long hours helping others. He pointed out that an ample amount of supplies were left with the families, even though they had electricity and water.   Hile said,  " The total between Mr Dominguez and Mr Brownlee we brought back 22 cases of MRE's and 24 cases of bottled water for two families. "

There were claims the deputy said he was sorry. Deputy Lowe said, " I went out there to get their information. I did not go out there to apologize. I didn't feel I had anything to apologize for. "

This incident leads to a much bigger picture. Are there enough safeguards in place to really prevent people from taking advantage of something that is free?   Lowe said,  " No matter how good a system you get down there are still going to be flaws in it. " Hile said, " If it's an honesty system, they need to be honest. " Both men agree it's possible that other individuals may have taken more than they needed, but only one complaint came in and that's what they were investigating.  San Augustine County Judge Randy Williams has record of most of the people who took emergency rations. The judge said today there are more important matters to address than to go through and check the names on the list. At the time, his concern was to give county residents what they needed as soon as possible. " Some men loaded up their pickups and personally drove the neighborhoods to see people got the supplies.   Later my secretary and a commissioner were stationed at the pod's ( point of distribution) to monitor the distribution.

Rations were handed out in all cities across the path of Hurricane Ike. Few questions are asked, but most recipients are encouraged to take the rations only if they truly need them. Monitoring the distribution can be difficult.   Perhaps during the next storm authorities will have more checks and balances in place and the recipients will learn to follow the honor system.