Day 122 : Deep In the Heart of Texas
Thank you, everyone, for your concern during this terrible Texas storm. We are fine in Dallas–about 300 miles away from Houston. The weather here is dark and humid, as if the entire state of Texas is under an enormous cloud, but there is no danger or threat here. Temperatures have dropped and the forecast is steady for the foreseeable future–rain and wind.
The people on the coast, however, are in terrible condition. There are shelters set up in Dallas and as of yesterday, people with small boats and jet skis and such are headed down to Houston to help with the evacuations. The rest of us just feel utterly helpless.
I spoke with a friend of mine last night. Her son, like mine, works at a Cristo Rey high school (my son Will teaches at Cristo Rey New York High School, her son works at Cristo Rey Jesuit in Houston). She said that he called in the middle of the night, Saturday night, and that they were on the phone together most of the night as he monitored water outside his door and the emergency sirens rang through the city all night long. What’s easy to forget is that its very hot down in Houston right now–so not only are people dealing with threatening water rising outside their door and inside their homes, but they have no power and no AC. In the dark, that must be a terrifying situation.
And this morning, it appears that people are in grave danger of drowning in strong current in their streets. It’s hard to believe this is happening. The amazing courage of the first responders and the ordinary people who are risking their lives to help their neighbors and fellow Texans brings you to tears. I just don’t know what else to say but perhaps please make a donation of some sort or kind to help everyone who is trying so hard to provide life saving support right now.
The Red Cross is mobilizing trained Red Cross disaster relief workers to support this response effort, and has more than shelters ready to open and support thousands of people if needed. Trailers full of shelter and relief supplies have been pre-positioned including cots, blankets, comfort and cleaning supplies.
Donate: Visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
The Salvation Army has already begun collecting funds to help those affected by the storm. Though most people think of donating clothing or household items first, SA spokesperson Alvin Migues, said physical donations can be a challenge during a disaster.
“Then you have to spend manpower to deal with sorting and other things as they come into the warehouses instead of having those folks out in the field doing the work,” he said. “So, we always asked people to send a cash donation instead,” he said.
Donate: You can donate cash online at disaster.salvationarmyusa.org or by phone at 1-800-725-2769.
Catholic Charities USA
Catholic Charities USA, a Catholic social service organization, is seeking donations to help those who have been affected by Harvey.
The group has set up a website devoted to Harvey relief, and explains that “long term recovery” is part of the group’s approach to disasters like this one.
South Texas Blood and Tissue Center
The STBTC is in dire need of blood donations to prepare South Texas Hospitals for Hurricane Harvey. The center says although O negative and O positive blood is at critically low levels, all blood type donations are welcome. The center says less than a day’s supply is available. The center is asking the public in the San Antonio and New Braunfels areas to donate right now.
Donate: Visit southtexasblood.org or call 210-731-5590 to schedule an appointment to donate blood.
Texas Diaper Bank
“Diapers are not provided by disaster relief agencies,” the TDB posted on Facebook Friday. To alleviate that need, the TDB is requesting donations of cash and diapers to provide emergency diaper kits for families that are being displaced due to Hurricane Harvey.
Donate: Visit the donation page at texasdiaperbank.org and designate your donation for Disaster Relief.
Local food banks
The Houston Press has compiled a list of food banks in the affected area, including Houston Food Bank, Galveston County Food Bank, Corpus Christi Food Bank, Southeast Texas Food Bank, and more. They recommend contacting a food bank directly about their need and what you can do.
Houston Humane Society
The group is helping marshal care and shelter for pets in the area. You can give here. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Texas is undertaking similar efforts. You can give here. The San Antonio Humane Society is doing the same. More here.
The non-profit focused on medicine and health is seeking to provide emergency medical supplies and other basic resources to first responders and others in Texas. You can give here.
A disaster response group dedicated specifically to people with disabilities. They are seeking to help affected people with evacuation and finding shelter, any medical equipment needs they might have, and more. You can learn more about their efforts here.
St. Bernard’s Project
The New Orleans-based organization is planning to send Americorps volunteers, assist local leaders and nonprofits, and eventually help rebuild damaged or destroyed homes. You can give here. (4/4 stars from Charity Navigator.)
The hospitality company is working to coordinate people in need of a place to stay with people willing to offer a free room. More information here.
Check out Charity Navigator’s Hurricane Harvey page if you’d like to see more options.
Amidst this, Michael and his hike continues. He and his two companions made the decision to head north and have reached the Canadian border via car, bus, hitchhiking and walking. I believe it took them from last Friday, August 18 until yesterday, August 27 to do so. I haven’t heard from him, other than SPOT transmissions that allow me to see if he’s hiking North or South. But effective today, I think I can safely say he’s now back on the trail on a Southbound hike, other wise known as “going SOBO”
Here, in general, is where he is now:
I had started to write to you about how frightened I am right now. How his trip seems to have entered a very different phase–he’s communicating less, I no longer know where he’s headed, where he will stop, where to send boxes. He is back in the mountains, in the Cascades of Washington, climbing in dangerous territory without his ice ax or bear locker. My sense of timing is off and even the mile markers don’t make sense, as he walks South. He even looks a bit frighteningly different:
But then this Harvey storm happened and I spoke to my friend about her son and I was humbled. My son is on a hike in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Her son and his students and their families and their neighbors and the entire community of Houston–the fourth largest city in the nation–are fighting for their safety in their own homes. Life is precarious, no matter where we are. We’re always at risk of losing those we love and the lives we comfortably expect to live each day. Your son doesn’t have to decide to take a hike for that to happen.
I, for one, am grateful for this day as I understand it will unfold and don’t think I’ll spend a minute of it worrying about what might happen. I think I’ll spend it appreciating those I have and the good fortune we have to choose how to spend this day. And praying for the safety and relief for all those affected by this disastrous storm, who no longer have that privilege.