Friday, August 25, 2017 #HurricaneHarvey made landfall in Rockport, TX as a Category 4 Hurricane. Harvey has stalled over Texas the last four days dumping inch after inch of rain on Texas and causing mass devastation. According to NPR, "in the past four days, Harris County has been hit by enough rainwater to run Niagara Falls for 15 days: 1 trillion gallons."
The rainfall totals in some parts of Houston have measured over 50 inches! 50 inches! To put that in perspective, the average rainfall in Philadelphia is 41.5 inches in a year. Most of Houston has received more than that in four days.
I grew up in Houston - Kingwood, TX to be exact. My parents still live there. We have been unbelievably blessed that as of today, there has been no damage to my parents home and they are safe! The same can not be said for many parts of Kingwood, Houston, and all over Texas. My high school is under water. The church I grew up in, Kingwood First Baptist Church, is currently an evacuation shelter. Dozens of friends' homes are flooded. Last night the mix of emotions between sadness and pride was overwhelming. I was filled with sadness seeing my Facebook feed fill with people needing to be rescued from their homes and places I grew up in under feet of water. But I felt pride in my city seeing the posts of friends braving the flood waters to save others. Being thousands of miles away has left me feeling helpless. My heart is broken for my city!
Through the devastation though, the hearts of so many people have shined through. I can not count how many people have reached out to me over the last few days. I am shocked at the number of people who have remembered my parents were in Houston and reached out to me, stopped by my office, sent me Facebook messages, emails, texts, calls. A few people I haven't spoken to in years reached out just to make sure my family was safe. It really meant a lot! People are good! People care! Thank you to everyone who has reached out!
The other positive I have seen from this storm is that the hate and division that has been front page news in our country over the last year has been washed away, at least right now, at least in this state. Harvey did not discriminate who it affected. Every race, every religion, every gender, every socioeconomic class, every political party has seen the worst of this storm. But the rescue efforts did not discriminate either! It was just PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE! I wish it didn't take a catastrophic storm to see that in our country, but I will celebrate that either way because we need to find every bit of good we can in this disaster and our country needs every ounce of love we can give!
Hurricane Harvey moved out of the Houston area late last night. (Finally!) Now the rebuilding begins. The rebuilding process will take weeks, months, years for some parts. Some may never go home. So many are going to need so much; every little bit will help. The donation matching going on right now is awesome! Companies like Google, Facebook, Amazon and others are matching up to $1M in donations. Sports teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Oakland A's and many others are donating proceeds to the relief effort. Every $1 will help! If you are looking to help with the relief, here are some ways to donate or support:
You can help Hurricane Harvey victims by texting HARVEY to 90999 to give $10 to the Red Cross (or by visiting RedCross.org to give any other amount).
Donate to one of the companies that will be matching your donation - Google, Facebook, Amazon - I am sure there are others.
Several local and national organizations are collecting donations for general disaster relief efforts, including the United Way, Americares, Salvation Army, Save the Children, Global Giving, Direct Relief, Heart to Heart and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt has set up a flood relief fund, backing the effort with his own $100,000 donation.
Gofundme has curated a list of Harvey relief efforts, with fundraisers for individual cities, families and homes. Individuals and corporations can donate to hurricane relief efforts through the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.
The State of Texas Agricultural Relief fund (STAR fund) is collecting private dollars to help Texas farmers and ranchers recover from Hurricane Harvey.
Help teachers in affected school districts rebuild their classrooms.
Donate food or cash to food banks in your area. Or you can donate to Feeding Texas, a network of food banks across the state. Find your local food bank here. (Did you know every $1 donated to a local food bank can buy $5 worth of food?! That means your $10 donation buys $50 of food.)
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas is helping displaced animals. You can donate or sign up to adopt or foster a displaced animal.
Give blood. Many hospitals are reporting blood shortages in the wake of the storm. Even if you are not in Texas, you can still donate blood through the Red Cross.
Buy products that will give back to the relief effort: Looking for a new notebook, think about a Texas design from MayDesigns. Want a cozy t-shirt, consider a Texas design from Live Love Gameday. 100% of the proceeds from these two products go to relief efforts. Go to a baseball game, go to a football game. Find somewhere where your money will do good! I know there are other companies doing something similar! If you know of any, please comment below.
(Many of the suggestions and links above came from The Texas Tribune. For more ideas and ways to help, visit their post here.)
We here at VillanovaHRD are praying for our students and alumni that are affected by Hurricane Harvey. Please reach out to our program or me personally if there is anything we can do to support you during this time!
My Texas pride is strong and I know my state will recover from this, but together we can do more! Please find a way to give something - money, time, prayers! We all need to open our hearts; our country needs more love and less hate. If only it didn't take Hurricane Harvey to remind us!
Bethany J. Adams, MA is an Assistant Director in the Graduate HRD program at Villanova University. Learn more about her here!