Volunteers at Rainbow PUSH help for hurricane relief

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VOLUNTEERS AT THE Rainbow PUSH Coalition pack items to send to Hurricane Harvey victims in Houston. (Photo by Keith Chambers)

Crusader staff report

Dozens of volunteers from the community on Saturday, September 2, came out to Rainbow PUSH Coalition headquarters in Hyde Park, where they kicked off a week-long food and clothing drive for victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston.

For eight hours, about 50 volunteers packed large boxes of clothing and hauled numerous cases of bottled water as a 50-foot semitrailer truck was parked in front of the building at 930 E 50th St. The items will be shipped to Houston, where Hurricane Harvey flooded America’s fourth largest city with seven trillion gallons of water.

Some 1,100 miles north of Houston, the volunteers at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition unloaded bags of children’s and women’s clothes from donors, all of which were newly bought from local retail stores. About 200 cases of water stacked seven feet high.

Thousands of homes in Houston were evacuated as residents were rescued by boat. Many left their homes with just the clothes on their backs, while their family heirlooms, possessions, cars and basic necessities remained under water. With an estimated 180 billion dollars in damage, Harvey is on track to surpass Hurricane Katrina as the costliest storm to hit the U.S.

That may change as forecasters predict Hurricane Irma could cause 300 billion dollars in damages if it hits Florida this coming weekend.

Many Hurricane Harvey victims are now returning to their homes as the floodwaters recede. With mold, stench and snakes, most of the homes remain uninhabitable. Recovery is expected to take months, even years, locals say.

For Houston’s poor and Black community, the road to recovery may not happen at all. According to news reports, many homeowners do not have flood insurance and with most businesses unable to reopen, many victims are out of work.

With 600,000 Black residents in Houston, there is some concern that victims of color are not being treated equally as other ethnic groups. It’s a concern that rekindles memories of deadly Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, which left predominately Black New Orleans flooded for days until President George W. Bush interrupted his golf trip to visit the ravaged city.

“What we’re not seeing in Houston are the hundreds of Black people being stuck in a building or stopped on a highway and blocked from getting out of the city,” said George Washington University sociologist George Squires, who was quoted in the Houston Chronicle. Squires is co-editor of the book, “There Is No Such Thing as a Natural Disaster: Race, Class and Katrina.”

The hurricane relief drive at Rainbow PUSH is still accepting donations. All clothing, bed covers, sheets and towels must be new and unused. Old and worn clothing. will not be accepted. Rainbow PUSH is also accepting bottled water, canned goods, disposable diapers and other relief items.

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