Last week, Giving Children Hope’s Executive Director, Sean Lawrence, traveled with a team to Houston, Texas. While there, he assessed the damage from Hurricane Harvey, brainstormed ways to provide ongoing relief to those affected, and had the opportunity to engage with victims of the hurricane. Read his reflection below.
I’ve seen firsthand the destruction that water can cause during Giving Children Hope’s response to the tsunamis that hit Japan and Thailand and the rain damage caused to Haiti. But the vast reach of the power of water that I saw in Houston last week was a stark reminder of the magnitude of its unpredictable power.
As I arrived in Houston, it soon became clear that the rising waters from Harvey were an equal opportunity tool of destruction. The sight of wet possessions piled high in front yards of both simple homes and glorious mansions lined the roads of suburban Houston.
In partnership with Calvary Relief, Giving Children Hope had the opportunity to hear dozens of first-hand stories of families impacted by Harvey. For three days we delivered food, water and hygiene products to families mucking out their houses. Many of these people were unable to go to the store as their vehicles had been flooded and ruined as well.
There were several stories that stood out against the landscape of tragic stories. One was a young woman named Jennifer who had just moved to Houston a little over a month ago to care for her dying mother. Jennifer has three young children, including a one-month-old daughter. Her mother passed away shortly after her arrival in Houston, leaving her with no family or friends in the city.
We met Jennifer while passing out hot meals to an apartment complex that had been flooded by Harvey. Jennifer asked if it would be ok to get a meal for her and her children to share. We gladly gave them all a hot meal as well as several days’ worth of non-perishable food and other hygiene products such as diapers. We were also able to share her story with staff at Calvary Houston, who contacted Jennifer and located a safe place for her and her children to stay.
Another family we met was the Rios family. When we pulled up to their home and asked if they needed any help, they answered in typical Texan response, “No thank you, why don’t you save that for someone who needs it more.” This family of four who had to be rescued by boat from the flood waters and had just returned to their devastated home was more concerned about their neighbors than themselves.
(The Rios family pictured above)
After spending some time with the Rios family and realizing they hadn’t had a meal since the previous day, they eventually accepted some food and cleaning supplies. As Mr. Rios showed us the damage caused to his home, he stoically shared of their escape from the rising flood waters. As with many in Texas, they thought they had escaped the wrath of Harvey as the water level outside their house seemed to be dropping on the night of the storm. Hours later though, he would wake up to water seeping through the cracks in the door and the windows. His home was now decorated with a three-foot water ring surrounding his house as a reminder of how high the water from Harvey had come.
While Giving Children Hope had the privilege of being on the ground and serving families such as these as they returned home, our work has only just begun. Last week we sent out the first of many 53-foot trucking containers to Texas. Over the coming months, we will be sending many more trucks filled with items such as new furniture, building supplies, and other practical household items.
If you would like to donate to Giving Children Hope’s Hurricane Harvey Relief efforts, please visit www.givingchildrenhope.org/hurricaneharvey.