By Houston Center, Texas (Originally in English)
On August 26, 2017, the state of Texas in the United States was battered by Hurricane Harvey, the strongest hurricane in the last 13 years. The continuous storm triggered unprecedented flooding, with major disaster declarations in 30 counties where more than 30,000 people had to seek shelters in stadiums, churches, schools and other buildings that were designated for people to stay safely. Approximately 100,000 homes were affected in Houston alone, and at least 39 people have lost their lives. Upon learning of the devastating situation, Supreme Master Ching Hai immediately provided a US$21,000 relief fund. Following Master’s instruction to render aid, in the three weeks after Hurricane Harvey, our Association members provided hot vegan meals, cleaning supplies and daily necessities to the affected families and individuals in Texas. Our Association members from various states in the US including Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Illinois, Tennessee, Colorado, Georgia, Virginia and California contributed an additional US$33,473, with reimbursement available from Master, to assist the relief efforts.
Helping with Rescues and Sharing Hot, Vegan Meals in Houston, Texas – August 29 to 31, 2017
As Houston Harris County was one of the most affected areas where many residential homes, roads and freeways were under five feet or more of water, our team drove a tall, big truck to help rescue those who were trapped in their homes on August 29. We collaborated with local Harris County officials and many other civilian groups to rescue residents who live northwest of Houston Harris County. The civilian and U.S National Guard groups used large powerboats to take people out of their flooded homes to dry land, and our members and other civilian volunteers helped to transport the victims to designated safe ground so they could move to the established shelters. Together we help rescue over 300 families and their animal companions in this area.
The next day, some of our members continued to work with the officials and volunteers to rescue people in areas with severe flooding, while the rest prepared hot vegan meals in Houston Loving Hut and Quan Yin Vegan Restaurant for disaster victims and volunteers. In total, we packed and delivered 1,800 delicious vegan meals to the rescued victims and volunteers, including civilians, NGOs and government officials who have been working very hard to assist those in urgent need.
On August 31, we learned from Ms. Oriana Garcia, the head coordinator of the main shelter set up by the State of Texas in the Houston NRG Stadium, that they needed hot vegan meals. Despite the short notice, we managed to deliver 1,000 free vegan meals to them. We told Ms. Garcia that our team is available to serve free vegan meals to the volunteer staff and evacuees if needed.
Our plan for the coming days is to prepare and provide free vegan meals to hurricane victims in city shelters and to volunteer staff, police, sheriffs, state troopers and county officials. Tomorrow, we will provide 200 meals for volunteer bus drivers who helped to transport flood victims. At this point, over 14,000 U.S Army trained personnel and U.S National Guards have come to affected counties in Texas to manage the rescuing task and many other duties. We are grateful for their service.
We met many volunteers who came all the way from neighboring states such as Alabama, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. A family from Alabama drove 12 hours straight in their truck under severe heavy rains and poor road conditions, and as soon as they arrived, they bought a brand new powerboat to rescue those victims in emergency situations.
Providing Vegan Meals and Necessities in Houston, Texas and Surrounding Areas – September 5 to September 16, 2017
Our relief team lovingly prepared hundreds of warm vegan meals and relief supplies and distributed them to the needy in Houston and neighboring areas. To the students and families at Powell Point Elementary School in Kendleton city, we provided 100 servings of vegan meals daily for four days. To Cristo Vive Church in Houston, we provided 150 servings of vegan meals daily for six days, which was greatly appreciated by the church members. On September 5, we went to V.W. Miller Intermediate School in the city of Pasadena and distributed 300 vegan hot meals and household cleaning items to the students, their families, teachers and the principal.
Dickinson is a small town with a population of about 20,000. Almost half the people were affected and over 7,000 homes were damaged by the hurricane. Our team provided 920 vegan hot meals and household cleaning supplies to the neighborhoods in this town on September 7 and returned three days later with 650 more meals and more supplies.
We paid a special visit to the low-income families in the Forest Green Townhouses and Clay Creek Apartments and brought them cleaning supplies, daily necessities and 250 and 300 meals respectively on September 8 and 9. Many people living on the first floor of Forest Green Townhouses were greatly affected by the floodwater. Other areas our assistance had reached included Thanh Tam Village and Lakecrest Village apartments in Houston, subdivisions in Southeast Houston, St. John Lutheran Church in Cypress city and a neighborhood in Richmond city.
We did not forget our animal friends in their hours of need. On September 15, we visited Rowdy Girl Sanctuary, a vegan sanctuary transformed from a beef cattle ranch, and brought them hay and food. The sanctuary was housing different animals shipped there for safekeeping till the hurricane passed. The next day, we went to a facility with dogs in Marque city and brought them vegan dog food.
As the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey was quite extensive, the recovery work could take a long time. We were amazed by the level of support and help rendered by all the volunteers and organizations for their affected neighbors.
Our relief team members would like to thank God for keeping us safe and protected so we could help those in need. In the face of such a calamity, Houstonians and our fellow Americans citizens showed the spirit of unity, courage and love in action. May Heaven bring comfort to all the victims of this catastrophic flood. We pray that more people will take action to adopt the compassionate eco-friendly lifestyle to protect the Earth and save lives.
Expenditures by Supreme Master Ching Hai and Her International Association for Hurricane Harvey Relief Work in Texas, USA
|Vegan food, cleaning supplies and daily necessities for the affected people and hay for the animals, vegan dog food and bird food||54,472.93||A|