Houston’s Hindus Respond to Flood Emergency

HOUSTON, TEXAS, August 30, 2017 (Press Release): Following the catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey in the Greater Houston area, Indian community joined the rescue and relief operations provided by the public and private agencies. Indian community also rallied together to pitch in with whatever help they could in terms of shelter, food and other supplies.

SEWA International Houston Chapter’s President Gitesh Desai has been directing the relief efforts despite the fact that his own house has been flooded and he had to wade through five feet of water to move into a hotel. This holds true not only for him but for many volunteers who went through their own hardships but “not deterred from doing our service,” Desai said.

SEWA started gearing up for Hurricane Harvey’s arrival in Houston by putting teams together when the hurricane made landfall in Rockport.
Desai estimates that one in four Indo Americans has been displaced by the catastrophe. Heartwarming and heartrending stories poured in from all quarters highlighting the efforts made by the community and over 100 on-the-ground volunteers to help those in distress.

Preeti Kankikarla, a young professional, was living with her 65 year old mother in a ground floor apartment. As the water level rose dangerously, she called the SEWA hotline and volunteers reached her home and helped her move to a first floor apartment. Expressing her gratitude for the help during the “toughest times of our life, she praised the volunteers and SEWA for their prompt action.

Many Indian businesses and places of worship have also opened their doors to shelter those who have been displaced. Indian restaurants and families have been providing packets of fresh Indian meals while Masala Radio’s Sunil Thakkar used his radio station to provide directions about where people can go for help until his own house was flooded.

Major Indian organizations such as Hindus of Greater Houston, India House, India Culture Center, the Indo American Charity Foundation, Indo American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston and the Indo American Political Action Committee have decided to coordinate the relief efforts of the Indian community through SEWA International.

A list of free food, shelter and medical help resources is being maintained on the website. Teams of SEWA volunteers are constantly working the phones coordinating neighborhood relief efforts that volunteers are conducting in their own local Houston municipalities. Since most of the important connecting roads are flooded and out of service, this coordination is crucial.

According to Desai, “A system for pre-registration for volunteers has been set up for cleanup work after the water levels subsides.” He requested people to call the SEWA hotline at 281.909.SEWA if assistance is needed or visit “source” above if you wish to donate for the cause.

Source: Hinduism Today