The School Newspaper of Plano West High School

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Humanitarians Help Victims of Harvey Heal

Whitney Patterson, Associate Editor

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Drooping palm trees, trunks broken and leaves filled with water are now commonplace in Corpus Christi. Piles of debris haphazardly strewn along the roadside decorate the streets of Houston. Battered houses, yards flooded with sand from nearby beaches, adorn the coastal town of Rockport. The entirety of the Texas coast lay in ruins, decimated by Hurricane Harvey. Harvey, a category four major hurricane, hit the Texas coast on Aug. 25, with winds reaching speeds up to 130 miles per hour. It is also the wettest tropical hurricane on record in the contiguous US, resulting in deadly flooding along the Texas coast.

“We were waiting for Harvey to hit but the day it was supposed to make landfall kept getting pushed back,” Kat Kabel, a freshman at the University of Houston and a Plano West alumna in the class of 2017, said. “It was really scary anticipating it.”

After the worst of the hurricane was over, the community rallied together to help those who were most affected.

“So many people in the community went out to help people whose houses had been flooded,” Kabel said. “They also went to help rescue people caught in the flood. Everyone that stayed was really worried about their families and it was so scary because so many people lost everything.”

With the damage costs estimated between $70 and $200 billion, individuals, companies and volunteer organizations all over the US are donating dry goods and hygiene products as aid.

“Spanish Honor Society just completed a hygiene product donation drive for the victims,” vice president Sanjna Bhatia said. “As an honor society, community service and helping others is extremely important to us and we want to do all we can to help people like us who were affected by this catastrophe.”

Kabel decided to use her platform and create “Houston Strong” t-shirts to promote solidarity. The profits sold from her shirts will go the Greater Houston Community Foundation (GHCF).

“We’ve sold around 170 shirts so far,” Kabel said. “We’re selling them for $20 and a little over half of that money goes to Harvey victims.”

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and caught up with a nice story of the community stepping up to help others, but it is important to realize that there is serious action that needs to be taken.

“A lot of people say they’re sending their thoughts and prayers,” Kabel said. “Solidarity is a great thing but I wanted to be able to actively help the people in my community beyond sending well wishes. That only does so much.”

Large corporations, as well as individuals, are also contributing to the relief effort. Trusted World, a non-profit corporation based in Allen, is currently collecting donations for Harvey victims. Chief Marketing Officer Grant Kemp calls Trusted World the “Amazon of nonprofits.”

“We handle warehouse space and logistics for other nonprofits,” Kemp said. “We receive donations from donor and the community and in turn give to nonprofits on a need by need basis.”

According to their mission statement, Trusted World is committed to providing the best resources, for free, to people or organizations who are providing services on someone else’s behalf.

“We are enabling the community to in turn serve others,” Kemp said. “We help people help people.”

Harvey donations collected by Trusted World are currently being housed in a 341,000 square foot warehouse in Garland. Volunteers are needed to sort through donations and financial support is needed in order to further aid the people affected.

Kemp highlighted the sense of community he has witnessed over the past couple of weeks.

“We had a couple of guys drive down from New Jersey with a semi-truck full of donations,” Kemp said. “We’ve also had a moving company from Arkansas drive down several times to take donations to Houston.”

The average time it takes for a family to get back on their feet after a flood is three years; Trusted World is committed to providing long-term relief.

“Trusted World plans on providing aid to Houston for four years,” Kemp said. “Even though the hurricane is over, the damage isn’t.

Though the damage caused by Harvey is ongoing, it has brought Texas and the Houston community together in an unprecedented way.

“In times of tragedy, differences such as beliefs or where you come from don’t matter,” Kabel said. “Tragedy affects anybody and everybody. We all have a responsibility to serve the people around us and generally be a good person.”

It will take several years for Houston families to recover and to fully realize the damage done, yet Kemp remains hopeful that aid is possible through community effort.

“There isn’t a short term answer to this tragedy,” Kemp said. “It takes long term love.”

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Humanitarians Help Victims of Harvey Heal