By now, the world is paying attention (or might be tuning out) to the catastrophic events that have taken place in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The flooding, the crisis and overall panic of the cities of Houston (appr. 2.4 million), Corpus Christi (appr. 326K), as well as surrounding areas has left many people displaced, discouraged and disconnected from their health resources that help keep them alive.
Before I address the amazing health advocates on the ground in and outside of Texas mobilizing to provide emergency resources and extended rebuilding supplies, I want discuss something that people seem to be griping about on social media. As a native Floridian, I've lived through sev-er-al hurricanes, freakish lightening storms and tornadoes, so this is coming from that perspective.
I have seen variations of this "concern":
Why didn't the mayors of those towns evacuate those poor people?
Ma'am/Sir...have you been stuck in traffic on any interstate before on a regular day? All appr. 2.4 million residents aren't ever on the highway at the same time and traffic is still hectic, first of all. Now, imagine ALL the residents trying to leave...but add in rising waters on the interstate (where fatalities would have been higher), subtract those that don't have their own transportation and are in their homes as the water rises, and if you DO happen to evacuate but have pets, I hope you're staying in a hotel (which requires some sort of funds because not all hotels were shelters). Most emergency shelters don't allow pets because of allergies and capacity, so where are you going to put your dog and cat? In weather like this, you cannot predict what will happen, what will go wrong or how long it will last - even in well, prepared states like Florida, there is always something unforseen that happens. And eventhough the actual hurricane is over, the rain hasn't stopped in all areas. The water may have receded in some places, but there are many neighborhoods and communities that are never going to be the same because of water damage.
The other concern has been where to send money, resources and/or how to get items directly to people that need help. Well, I have great news! There are several health advocates that have orcehstrated health supply drives and created a Facebook group tp house all the information that will help. This group, named "Hurricane Harvey 2017 - People Who Need Medical Supplies/Devices serves as a non-emergency service that is taking donations & mobilizing volunteers to fill untapped needs for patients with chronic conditions who may need things like ostomy supplies, salt packets, Sharp's biohazard boxes, ziplock for meds, benadryl, etc. etc. etc. This is not an emergency service. They will be collecting items for a while as people continue to battle through the process of rebuilding their homes, pharmacies and schools. There is an Amazon List set up that will be constantly changing. Volunteers are ready to receive packaged items as well and there are other groups for rescue and recovery linked within the posts on the Facebook page. If you need emergency medical assistance please reach out to those groups who have a direct line to emergency services.
I find this method to be a perfect solution to those that are uncomfortable with texting to non-profits, but I also challenge you to look into your communities civic groups. Most long-established groups have international or national boards that are charged to respond to natural disasters like this. For example, Kiwanis have several of their clubs gathering supplies and responding. Most states have local affiliated clubs that you can contribute to. Rotary clubs around the nation are partnering with ShelterBox to provide hundreds of light privacy tents to families that are displaced temporarily. Lastly, one of my favorite organizations, Habitat for Humanity is mobilizing in many other states to provide resources and assistance in the rebuilding of communities throughout the impacted areas of Texas. As things slow down work-wise for me around the holidays, I plan to reach out to one of these organizations or partners and find something I can do that's hands on to help elevate the spirits of those that need it.
I know from my experience in 2004 with Hurricane Charley, plus the three others that hit my community in one summer, back-to-back. We lost power for a week. My daughter was one, I lived with my elderly grandmother and disabled veteran mom. It was hot, scary and frustrating but we were blessed. We lived on high land and didn't experience much flooding but with gas stations running out of fuel, people couldn't run back-up generators, food spoiled and the list of difficulties went on and on. It's not something I ever want to go through again and don't want anyone to experience either. I believe we live through things to be the help others are looking for. I'm ready to roll up my sleeves. Are you?