Disaster Relief
Joining Hands in Disaster Response
Mission Statement: Rotarians, collaborating with like-minded individuals and groups, provide response and recovery assistance to victims of natural and man-made disasters
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on August 25th as a Category 4 hurricane. To date 19+ trillion gallons of rain have fallen; rainfall records for the continental U.S. have been shattered. Estimated damage costs will exceed $160 billon. Under the direction of FEMA, local response personnel along with organizations such as the Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse, and the Salvation Army respond first to save lives, protect property, and provide basic human need. As flood waters begin to recede, people return to evaluate the damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure. Volunteers are needed at this stage to “muck out” – remove flood soaked wall board, flooring and personal items to prevent the spread of mold and disease. Rotarians can best assist with these immediate efforts by donating to the Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse, the Salvation Army, church-based groups – or through Rotary.
Our District has been in contact with Texas District 5840. Donations can be made through the Carlisle Rotary Club Foundation. A local Rotarian has offered up to a $5,000 match for district-wide donations. Make checks payable to the Carlisle Rotary Club Foundation and send to Carlisle Rotary Club Foundation, PO Box 301, Carlisle, PA 17013. Please send by Saturday, September 30th.  These donations will be used for immediate response needs and for possibly future recovery work. Click here for a printable flier. 
When flood waters recede and immediate needs have been addressed, the process of recovery and rebuilding will begin. This process takes years. Homeowners will apply for disaster relief funds, insurance payments and new mortgages/loans. Many can handle the restoration costs on their own. But what about those individuals who exhaust all options and do not have financial means to rebuild? In these cases, the home owners look to agencies who oversee the recovery stage. The agencies set up volunteer housing, hire and train case workers along with construction supervision crews. They organize the volunteers who will rebuild homes and they collect the funds to purchase the materials.
As months go by, D7390 will raise funds to assist in the rebuilding of homes for those who pass the eligibility test. We will work with a Rotary District in the flood area, such as D5840, to determine how the funds should be spent.
We watch TV, but we can’t comprehend the extent, the devastation, or the danger during a hurricane of this magnitude. Over the years, D7390 through Joining Hands has worked with organizations such as Fuller Center ReBuilders in rebuilding homes from the Mississippi gulf coast to the New Jersey shore. Fuller Center Re-Builders sent a crew to Winnie TX, on the border of Texas and Louisiana to help with Harvey relief. Following is an excerpt from today’s report. “Upon arrival we searched a few neighborhoods before dark. We then decided to try and make it back to our base camp in Louisiana before the flooding completely cut us off. The trip was the scariest 4 hours many of us ever had. The extent of flooding between Winnie and Houston is enormous along the I-10 corridor. When (our convoy of high-water trucks) came through Orange, TX ….the storm was full force. People were trapped in their cars all around the exit. We ran to each one telling them to stay inside until the water got up higher and then get to the over pass. We headed out on the highway and only made it a few miles before having to turn around due to not being able to determine where the ditches were with the storm raging and 6' of water on the roads. We could see flashlights trying to signal us out of the house windows that were flooding …... Every single home was occupied. The town had not evacuated!! In neck deep water we filled the trucks to the brim with people. They ranged in age from 1 year to 85 years.”
With so much devastation, we admire the displayed courage and faith of people. But as the months go by, and many see no means to rebuild, that courage and faith will begin to wane. They will see no future. This is where D7390 Rotarians can make a profound difference in lives. I will keep you posted on the progress of recovery and the plans to assist with restoration. In the meantime:
  • Make an initial donation for relief needs.
  • If you would like to volunteer to travel to Texas for a rebuild project, let me know and we will place you in contact with an appropriate organization.
  • If you would like to assist on this Hurricane Harvey committee, please let me know.
Rotarian Peg Sennett
Chair, Hurricane Harvey Relief Effort