Towards the end of August and beginning of September, the Gulf of Mexico was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. During this time, we were vacationing in Havana, Cuba (blog post to follow) and we were not aware of the devastation this storm caused due to our limited WiFi access.
Two of our closest friends, Kat and Hersh along with our cousin Liz live in Houston so we were immediately concerned. When the opportunity arose, we Face-Timed them and were relieved to learn that they were out of harm’s way – not to take away from less fortunate families.
While Ana and I were at our Airbnb in Cuba, we both agreed to go volunteer in Houston the following weekend when we got back to the USA. As we started our post-vacation work week, we both sent out company emails to or coworkers and contacted our Dallas pals asking for monetary donations and/or hygiene supplies. Ana’s job is full of great individuals willing to donate either money or goods as they know she is a noble person and is always trying her best to help. They helped our cause by donating some money as well as donating to a non-profit we chose directly with the help of our pal Kat.
That Friday evening we drove up to Houston and got to hang with Hersh & Kat. The night was filled with reminiscing and endless laughter as we spent all night catching up with each other. But of course us being us, we woke up later than planned.
As Saturday afternoon rolled in, we got a quick bite to eat and headed to Recovery Houston, a non-profit dedicated to getting people homes back in tip-top shape. All four of us along with a few other volunteers were tasked to clean, strip out wet drywall and insulation, as well as move garbage to the side of the curb. The specific neighborhood we were sent to was slightly atop a hill but the home still managed to get water damage 16” from the floors. In a sense it was a dreamlike experience being in a stranger’s home and ripping apart their walls. The wet drywall crumbled in my hands every time I tried to grab chunks at a time and the insulation tore apart as easy as cotton candy. Unveiling the bare wood frames of the house was interesting to me because it made me realize how fragile situations like this can be and how one can never fully prepare for something like this. While my mind kept racing with thoughts and sentiments it of course felt nice knowing we’re helping this retired couple by devoting our time and energy.
As Sunday morning rolled along we went to Sam’s to purchase diapers and sleeping cots (per Casa Juan Diego’s requests). While buying the supplies, interestingly enough Ana and I came across the jewelry section and chose an engagement ring. Previously, I had given her a wood ring but it was definitely not “Ana Proof” is what I like to call it. With a new engagement ring along with our newly acquired goods, we headed for Casa Juan Diego (a non-profit shelter). Upon delivering the goods, they express their gratefulness and praised us for bringing in donations. Seeing their smiles and knowing these supplies would be put to good use made the Houston trip worth it.
The whole experience was surreal in that you don’t fully understands the damage is there until you see it with your very own eyes. It’s empowering that people have the capability to unite and help one another. Ana Love managed to take a few snapshots during our experiences which you can find throughout and/or below this post.
We’re happy to note that Houston is slowly but surely recovering from this traumatic experience although the city continuous to need help. We have included ways on how you can help:
- Casa Juan Diego is a shelter that serves the community of Houston, Texas. Since Hurricane Harvey there has been a long line of individuals at their doorstep needing assistance. CJD provides weekly updates (sometimes daily) on specific donations needed. Find out what is needed here – http://cjd.org/2017/08/28/hurricane-harvey-and-casa-juan-diego/
- Recovery Houston is a movement of people helping people recover from Hurricane Harvey. Join the movement – https://www.facebook.com/recoveryhouston/