United Methodist leaders in Texas feared the worst was yet to be discovered as they began touring churches and communities battered by Hurricane Ike.

Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, who leads the church's Texas UM Conference based in Houston, traveled Sept. 15-16 to areas south and east of Houston, but authorities blocked her group from reaching Galveston, a city of 57,000 residents with five United Methodist churches.

Another 20 of the denomination's churches dot nearby areas in and around Freeport, Texas City, LaMarque and Baytown. Huie reflected on her tour of damage in a Sept. 16 message posted on the Texas Conference Web site www.txcumc.org.

Despite an inability to pinpoint specific needs, the Texas Conference and United Methodist Committee on Relief have mobilized to provide flood buckets, ice and other resources in impacted areas. Three UMCOR distribution sites have been established at United Methodist churches in Vidor, La Porte and League City.

The Rev. Clay Whitaker, disaster response coordinator for the conference, said providing the trailers and essential tools for recovery zone work was a vital step in equipping Texas Conference volunteers. The conference has nearly 300 trained and certified early responders.

To aid Ike recovery work, send financial donations to UMCOR Advance No. 3019695, "Hurricanes 2008, Hurricane Ike."

United Methodists can drop a check in any local UMC offering plate. Individuals also can mail checks to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New York, NY 10087, and write the Advance number and name on the memo line of the check.

Credit-card donations can be made online at www.gbgm-umc.org.

Church treasurers are encouraged to forward Hurricane 2008, Hurricane Ike funds to their conference treasurers.