In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and in the face of Hurricane Irma, the VetriMax team has learned a few lessons regarding disaster relief and assistance. We spent 4 days in Rockport, TX immediately following Hurricane Harvey. While we were not exactly "first responders" we were on the scene within days of the storm removing debris from homes, providing backup power to homes and installing window unit air conditioners to the elderly, while Houston and surrounding areas were still receiving rain and floods.
These 2 events were very different. Rockport, TX and the coastal areas that endured the brunt of Harvey experienced a "wind event", while Houston, Beaumont and surrounding areas experienced a "flood event". Each disaster was horrific and catastrophic, however, very different. For South Texas, the clothing donations, bottles (pallets) of water, diapers, canned goods, and other generosities quickly became more of a "problem" than a solution. With so much damage and very little coordination of the relief efforts, there was simply no place to store and inventory these items. Much of the clothing, etc added to the garbage and clean-up efforts.
The American Red Cross and other large organizations are probably the best organizations to distribute clothing, food and rapid response to meet the needs of those affected once they safely arrive to shelter. But as we saw in Houston, it is the outpouring of support from the community and brave individuals (from near and far) who led the rescue efforts in personal watercraft, not the government or RedCross. I witnessed the line of trucks and boats in-tow lining the highway and driving into the storm to rescue stranded people. They came from all over Texas and all over the country. Truly an amazing sight, and certainly an example to the nation.
For Rockport, TX including Fulton, Aransas Pass, Port Aransas, Refugio and Taft (to name a few communities hit hardest) the need for monetary donations and clean-up volunteers will go on for months. We have established www.rockportrelief.org to assist with this. Please contribute what you can, the funds are secure and will go directly to the families who do not have insurance and have the greatest financial needs.
Checks can be mailed to: Commerce National Bank, C/O Rockport Relief, 1800 Harvey Mitchell Pkwy S. College Station, TX 77845.
As Hurricane Irma bears down on Florida, we know the damage will be widespread and severe. In the days and months following the storm, for those who are able, volunteering in the clean-up effort is simply the best and most needed contribution. Bring your chainsaws, fuel, work boots and gloves. Bring bug spray, sunscreen, breathing masks and protect yourself as necessary. Large equipment such as skid steers, bulldozers and dump trucks are extremely helpful immediately following these events. God Bless Florida, its residents and those who will rush to help.