Rescue boats fill a flooded street as flood victims are evacuated during Tropical Storm Harvey.
By ISHEKA N. HARRISON
MIAMI – When Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas as a Category 4 storm, residents knew they would face devastation.
However, in the days that followed, Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, and its surrounding areas have been ravaged by flood waters.
Thousands of people – including women, children and the elderly – are still stranded, wading through sewage infused water while rescue crews are working tirelessly to save lives. Officials reported the death toll at 30, including a family of six, as of 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.
People have taken to social media in desperate attempts to locate loved ones, call for help and/or have it dispatched.
The torrential rains from Harvey continued in Texas and Louisiana through Wednesday making an already dangerous situation even more dire.
The rest of the country is watching and praying, feeling an eerily familiar sense of heartbreak, akin to the one most Americans felt 12 years ago while watching the horrors of Hurricane Katrina when it pummeled New Orleans.
The relief effort in Texas ester is more organized, but there is still much work to do. While reports state over 9,000 have been rescued, many remain trapped by floodwaters and shelters are filled beyond capacity.
Houston’s mayor SylvTurner and Lakewood Church megapastor Joel Osteen have come under fire for not evacuating the city and not immediately opening the church’s doors as a shelter, respectively.
Turner said he stands by his decision as trying to evacuate so many people at the last minute would have proven more catastrophic.
Osteen has since released a statement saying he and his wife “care deeply about our fellow Houstonians. Lakewood’s doors are open and we are receiving anyone who needs shelter.”
Many people have lost everything and time is of the essence since residents stuck in the flooding are exposed to numerous health risks.
With Texas’ governor Greg Abbott stating it will take years to rebuild, it is evident the people of Houston and other areas affected by Harvey will need all of the help they can get.
South Floridians are among those answering that call. Below are a few ways South Floridians can join the relief effort locally.
The Archdiocese of Miami is asking for members of all 109 parishes to donate money to a special collection to be taken up this weekend, Sept. 2-3 to enable local church relief agencies to purchase in bulk the items that are most needed – water, food, building supplies, tents, tarps, beds etc. – and truck them quickly to the most affected areas. Donations of food, water or other supplies will not be accepted.
Stand Up Miami is collecting donations of clothing, shoes, underwear, socks, infant formula, shampoo and conditioner, ointment, soap, lotion, towels and wash cloths, baby wipes, hygiene products (toothpaste and toothbrushes, feminine products, etc.) and more. Items can be delivered to House of Wings, 1039 NW 3rd Avenue, Miami, Florida 33136, between noon and 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
United Way of Miami-Dade and The Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald have activated Operation Helping Hands to support the response, recovering and rebuilding efforts in the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and other areas that may be impacted by this powerful storm. To make a donation visit www.unitedwaymiami.org; call 305-643-2501 or 2-1-1; or send a check payable to Operation Helping Hands, c/o United Way of Miami-Dade, P.O. Box #459007, Miami, Florida 332459007.
The Greater Miami Jewish Federation is accepting monetary donations to help the relief effort. Donation checks should include the note “Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.” They can be mailed to the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, 4200 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33137. Call 305-576-4000 or visit www.jewishmiami.org/gift/hurricane_harvey There are also many other local relief efforts underway in the tri-county area. The sfltimes.com website will be updated as information becomes available. Residents can also donate through the American Red Cross by visiting redcross.org, calling 1-800-733-2767 or texting HARVEY to 90999. You can give through The Salvation Army by visiting helpsalvationarmy.org, calling 1-800-725-2769 or texting storm to 51555.
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