Help for Harvey

By on August 30, 2017

Locals join national effort to aid hurricane victims

The heartbreaking media images of thousands of flooded out residents in Texas continued to multiply since Harvey hit late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane

Rebecca Gallagher, who lived in the Houston area as recently as 2009, scrambled Monday to come up with a local fundraising plan to help out victims of the devastating storms in Texas.

Gallagher, who operates the Smithton Inn and is co-president of the Ephrata Alliance, on Tuesday began organizing the effort &tstr; having scored quick donations from Oregon Dairy and Redners &tstr; and teaming with Ephrata War Memorial Association to set up contribution baskets at Ephrata High School’s opening football game Friday night.

“Anyone wishing to make a donation can also stop in to the Smithton Inn and we’ll add it all together to make an Ephrata community donation to the Salvation Army of Houston,” she said.

Gallagher plans to send the people in Houston a 18 x 24 – stating “Ephrata, Pa. Helping our Texas Neighbors in Their Time of Need.” – signed by people at Friday’s game and others who donated.

“It’s a way to show community support and a way for the community to come together,” she said. “You see the people of Houston coming together and we want to support them.”

Gallagher had originally planned to collect needed goods for storm victims but was encouraged by experienced fundraising groups to solicit monetary donations.

Things moved very quickly Monday and Tuesday as two businesses who had agreed to donate water as part of original plan “have converted that donation to cash,” Gallagher said.

“So we’ve already got over $250 in donations that have come in as part of this,” she said Tuesday afternoon.

The Ephrata Area School District is also reaching out to help. Ephrata Superintendent Brian Troop has specifically targeted a colleague who is the Superintendent in Spring Branch, right outside Houston.

“We are collecting donations next Tuesday at school and promoting the event with our families through e-mail,” Troop said. “We will be directing our efforts to the families of the Spring Branch ISD.”

Spring Branch Independent School District, located in the heart of Houston amid the greatest area of devastation, has been greatly affected by the storm.

“In an effort to help fellow educators and students affected by Hurricane Harvey, district staff are encouraged to show their support by dressing down on Tuesday, Sept. 5 and making a donation to Spring Branch Independent School District,” Troop said.

Other local groups such as the Red Cross and Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) have also reacted to help those the Houston area.

The storm brought the Texas coastal region to a standstill, said former Lititz resident Glenn Grove, on Tuesday.

Grove, who lives in Humble, Texas, near Lake Houston, said TV and newspaper pictures captured what’s going on in his own backyard.

Living in an area essentially made up of four developments, flood waters enveloped the roads in every direction. Grove measured close to 40 inches of rain on his property by Tuesday afternoon.

Though his property was spared serious damage and he didn’t lose power &tstr; he purchased an $11,000 full-home generator following Hurricane Ike in 2008 after living 13 days without power &tstr; he’s been a prisoner in his home for five days.

“The helicopters have been been flying and you can hear the boats. The most frustrating thing is that there’s so much flooding all over town you can’t go help anybody,” Grove said. “We can’t get out of the neighborhood.”

He was able to help out his elderly widow neighbor, bringing her to his home after stopping by her residence the day the storm hit.

“She had no idea there was a storm coming,” he said. “Eight-five years old living alone in a 4,500-square-foot home and she is diabetic but has no family here.”

He’s seen his share of storms since moving there in 1988, “but none as widespread with significantly higher amounts of rain.

Grove, a former commercial insurance underwriter, noted a very high percentage of people in his area do not have insurance, himself included, him because they’re not in a flood plain.

But the storm has lingered off the coast, dropping heavy rain as a tropical storm. The Consumer Federation of America expects flood damage alone from the storm to cost at least $35 billion, about what Katrina cost. But in that 2005 hurricane about half of flooded homes were covered by flood insurance.

A Lititz volunteer group left for Texas  to help out some of those victims.

A Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS)  team is scheduled to arrive there headed by Kevin King,  MDS executive director.

King will be in Texas today, then come back and figure out the best way to use MDS resources . To learn more about how to support the MDS effort, go to mds.mennonite.net.

 

The Red Cross is mobilizing hundreds of trained disaster relief workers, truckloads of kitchen supplies as well as tens of thousands of ready-to-eat meals to support this response effort. Trailers full of shelter supplies including cots and blankets &tstr; enough to support more than 20,000 people &tstr; are scheduled to arrive in Texas.

“The Central Pennsylvania Region has so far sent or assigned ten volunteers to areas that will potentially be affected by Hurricane Harvey. We’re thankful for the dedication of volunteers who are willing to help those in need,” said Kim Maiolo, Central Pennsylvania Region Director of Communications.

The Red Cross is also working in close collaboration with government officials and community partners in both Texas and Louisiana to coordinate potential response efforts.

The Red Cross depends on financial donations to be able to provide disaster relief immediately. Help people affected by Hurricane Harvey by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-RED CROSS or texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

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