Information that’s Good to Know

By: Lauren Wallen, Goodwill Detroit Retail Marketing Manager

I wanted to take a moment to thank Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit for helping to send my fiancé and I down to Southeast Texas in a 15 foot U-Haul Truck filled to the top with much-needed essentials! The Southeast Texas area is slowly starting to return to normal; however the new “normal” is nothing like before.

Woman stands in the trailer of a large U-Haul truck in front of boxes of donations.

The Southeast Texas area is slowly starting to return to normal; however the new “normal” is nothing like before.

Debri lined up along the street outside of the damaged houses in Texas.Streets are piled high with personal belongings and pieces of the interior of their homes that now has to be gutted due to the damage from the storm and water. I was told that it will take months before it is all cleaned up and removed. Seeing peoples possessions lined up at the curb was truly heartbreaking. I thought to myself: if I were in their shoes, I don’t think I would be able to replace everything I own. This really put things into perspective for me.

Debris lined up along the street outside of damaged businesses in Texas.

Many schools have yet to have their first day of school since Harvey hit just three days before it was scheduled to start. The schools that are fortunate to open at all, due to minimal damage from the hurricane, are now filled well over capacity. Students are being shuffled from one school to the next in an effort to find space for them to receive an education. Hundreds of students have started school without basic school necessities, and just as many do not know when or if they will have a permanent school or even a desk of their own to continue throughout the school year.

Several area nursing homes are still closed with no signs of re-opening anytime soon. This has forced local residents to send their loved ones to facilities outside of the immediate area, many as far as two hours away, in order to receive the care that they need.

Men, women, and children are all still struggling to process and accept the horror of what has happened. Having your home flood over three feet high, learning that some of your neighbors may have died in the storm, being rescued by boat and helicopter, not knowing when or if you will ever be able to return to your home… these are the most traumatic things many if not most of these people have ever lived through in their lifetime. A close friend of mine is a school teacher in the area. She shared with me a few stories of incidents in her classroom over the recent weeks following the storm where students have become inconsolable at the sight of rain outside the classroom window; she witnessed young children, ages 6 and 7 years old, absolutely terrified just by the thought of rain or the sound of thunder. Needless to say, the emotional recovery from Hurricane Harvey and its effects on the community will be a very long process.

Thanks to everyone’s generosity at Goodwill, my fiancé and I were able to provide assistance to four specific local families that were close to family and friends of ours, in addition to providing a variety of items (clothing, diapers, baby formula, toiletries, canned food items, children’s toys, linens, towels, bedding etc.) to Community Care Prayer Outreach, a local organization working tirelessly to ensure that local residents are receiving the items they need to get back on their feet.

Dozens of boxes and donated supplied are unloaded from the truck .

Although it may only be a drop in the bucket to the recovery of that community, our presence there and our donations were genuinely appreciated by everyone I encountered while there. Victims of these horrible storms need our help and support now more than ever. I am grateful for the opportunity to go to Texas to help aid in these relief efforts, first hand. I cannot even begin to describe the impact it has had on me being able to do so.

 

 

To put things inter perspective, I also wanted to make an effort to share the real stories of Texas: like the story of the Port Arthur Mayor, or a local volunteer who just wanted to help, or these images from USA Today and The Beaumont Enterprise. These are real people facing real tragedy, and we shouldn’t forget about them on their road to recovery.

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