These are hard days.
Families and friends have experienced degrees of loss from Hurricane Harvey and the associated flooding that are overwhelming.
My family is no exception.
Hurricane Harvey came to town and was slow to leave. He parked over southeast Texas and dumped over 50" of rain. The question "will it ever stop raining ?", repeated for days. My sister Suzette kept a watchful eye as the water crept up into her backyard. Then the porch. Then the water seeped under the door, soaking the carpet. Then there was surrender and it was time to start saving the things that mattered most. It's a sick helpless feeling.
Unfortunately their home in Vidor, Texas, took in over 3 feet of water. They moved to the safety of our parents house (no flooding there!) but were then placed under mandatory evacuation. They followed an Army truck through deep water with their own truck loaded with their girls and a few possessions and headed for higher ground to ride out the storm.
To assist her family I established a GoFundMe campaign She resisted this idea but being the older sister, I won. The flood damage is devastating. Flood insurance doesn't cover contents. FEMA claims are limited and slow to process. Families need immediate help and this is one way to help a Texas family direct.
Thank you to the many kind friends, family, clients, colleagues, social media friends and strangers that have donated. Every single dollar is a blessing to my family. Even if you are unable to donate, I encourage you to pop over the the GoFundMe and follow the current updates. Please continue to pray for us and if you would, share the link on your social media.
This next detail is uncomfortable for me to say out loud; we didn't flood at my house nor did my neighborhood flood. I live in Houston and there are, miraculously, areas of the city that received the same mount of rain everyone else did, but by some engineering miracle, the drainage kept up with the rain. Those of us who didn't flood feel extremely grateful and a bit embarrassed to have been spared.
But we are also standing in the gap for those that need our help!
I was able to make the trip over to Vidor this week for the first time since the flooding. A group of family and friends helped Suzette muck out her house. As bad as I expected the damage to be, it was even worse all through town.
The lack of resources in small towns is crippling. They don't have famous athletes like JJ Watt or generous millionaire businessmen like Mattress Mack to raise funds for them or provide shelter. The next town over is flooded, too. And the one after that. There are very few volunteers in small towns because almost everyone flooded and is trying to save themselves. They're doing everything they can to help their neighbors but they need help.
It can be overwhelming to know exactly how to help flood victims. There are many large operations to donate to and equally large concerns of where the money goes.
I want to help the town of Vidor in a couple of very specific ways. Our small towns are struggling and I want to help.
Here are two ways to help a small Texas Town:
I am collecting gift cards in small denominations to put directly into the hands of people that need them.
Gift cards to WalMart, Target, Amazon, Ace Hardware, Home Depot and Lowe's give these family access to supplies immediately.
Some smart Instagram friends e-mailed me e-gift cards that I was able to distribute that very same day! I love that!
I know you have friends that want to help and are trying to figure out how to do that, well here's how; get your reading group, your Bunko group, your neighbors on your street, your kids baseball team and start collecting gift cards in small denominations and send them to me.
I'm not a professional fundraiser, I'm not a social worker but I have direct connections to the people of Vidor and they need our help now. I don't have time to waste on figuring out the perfect way to help someone and neither do you.
I do know we can help a lot of people even a little bit if we all pitch in.
The other way I want to help Vidor is in a bigger way. I saw first hand the damage and I know how limited the resources are for the victims. I'm learning that if you want something you must use your voice. Put the message out there anyway you can.
There is a huge need for basic building materials in Vidor. Survivors of this flood are stepping back into their homes for the first time to survey the damage. The next step for them is clean up.
I have put the word out that I want big trucks full of building materials donated to Vidor and guess what...it's working! Two loads of materials have been donated and are being organized as I type this for delivery this weekend.
But we're not even close to done. Let's get more!
Here's a list of building materials needed:
- Sheetrock Mud
- Sheetrock screws
- R13 insulation
- Work boots
- Empty storage tubs to store posessions
- Extension cords
- Mold Control
- Tools: hammers, drywall saws, crowbars, drills,
- Contractor bags
- Window A/C Units
You may not have access to a way to ship a large quantity of these items but you might know someone that does and wants to help. Ask them! and then contact me. Send them this post! Send them my e-mail!
I have a direct connection in Vidor that is able to receive large donations and distribute them and I would love to coordinate a delivery.
If you're out of state and don't have a way to ship large quantities U-Haul offers a service that might be an option for you. Fill a portable storage container with donations and ship it to us.
If you would like to send me gift cards you've collected or have a shipment of building materials you'd like to donate, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My friend Holly Mathis has created a page on her blog for Hurricane Harvey Relief that lines out ways to help as well. Holly invited me to share my sister"s flood story in a guest post immediately upon hearing of her loss. She has been instrumental in connecting me with people that have the ability to make big things happen. Every link in the chain plays a vital role. Thank you Holly!
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. There are so many hurting and in need.
"A single drop can't make even a puddle, but together, all our little drops and God's planning can make not only a mighty ocean but a mighty difference."