We are home safe & sound from our trip to Houston. More than $1500 of donation money, dozens of items from Amazon, plus local drop offs were sent from our amazing friends… mostly from the SharePoint Community. We spent several days making runs to Costco, Home Depot, Walmart, Target, and more. You entrusted us with your donations and we needed to make sure that it went to good use. We asked people in Houston what was needed & bought everything that we could get our hands on that was asked for.
With the help of local friends we were able to load everything, including furniture for Jill’s folks, onto the trailer I affectionately nicknamed “Rolling Thunder” due to the sounds that we made as we rolled through the neighborhoods.
By the time we got to Houston many of the charity locations had stopped accepting donations because they had to turn their focus to their own operations and trying to recover so that they could get back to providing services desperately needed by the local community now that the imminent danger had passed.
We found that the Second Baptist Church was still taking donations & so we set out for there. When we arrived the volunteers poured out of the building and helped us unload the truck. They had just decided to stopped operation for the day as they hadn’t had many drop offs that afternoon. We were thanked over and over for all of the donation items as what we brought were things that they had mostly run out of. Their operation is very focused on feeding people, however they are sending crews of people to help people remediate their homes in the local area.
After we dropped the donation items we went to furnish Jill’s folks apartment. They were some of the lucky few that have been able to find new housing quickly. We were able to bring enough essentials to make the apartment livable for them.
Unfortunately their home had more than a foot of water and all of their furniture, save a few pieces of antique & precious furniture that were expertly cared for during the storm by Jill’s Dad, were a total loss. Both of their cars were totaled. Jill’s Dad was able to get a crew of people to come in and rip out the drywall, the carpet, and almost everything that could have mold grow on it.
The neighborhood is in shambles. Basically everything that used to be inside the houses, plus the insulation & drywall, is now on the lawns but the homes look intact from the outside. Kind like a giant yard sale from hell.
Many of the stores are reopened. We found food, essentials and gas in reasonable supply but places that flooded will likely be closed for months.
Unfortunately one of the places that was hard hit in the area is the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston. Their first floor was completely submerged & is now decimated. The first floor of the ERJCC houses their offices, Meals on Wheels, the Senior Center, and other community & education related spaces. All of the office machines were lost in the flooding. Please take a look at our video appeal in which we are asking for help acquiring laptops for the staff. Ultimately insurance will cover things, however in that could take months given the size of the claim & the urgent need for the funds to get essential community services back operation as fast as humanly possible. Here is the video:
Reach out to Laura directly if you can help: firstname.lastname@example.org
Full links from the video: First walk through video & Second walk through video
Pictures from the ERJCC
I hope that those who are staring down the barrel of Irma take heed of the lessons learned from Harvey and get prepared or get out of harms way. My Grandparents, who live in West Palm Beach, were relocated this week to Memphis.
As I told my boys this week about all of this: We cannot control Mother Nature, but we can be smart & prepared. Stuff can be replaced, lives cannot. We don’t take chances with our lives.
Thanks to everyone for their donations, help loading, unloading, advice, texts, calls, Facebook messages, and concern. The SharePoint Community never ceases to amaze me. I am so lucky to be a part of this wonderful group of people who are passionate about not just technology, but who are truly committed to helping their fellow humans. I have to give a special thanks to my parents for helping us with the boys so that we could make the trip happen.
The rebuilding of Houston is going to be a long and terrible process for those who have to live through it. Let’s not just give now and forget. Round back in a few weeks and reach out to those that you know who were impacted. The shock will wear off and eventually depression will take root. Let’s not let allow Harvey to take the strong out of #HoustonStrong.