In a small corner of an emergency shelter, already bursting at the seams with nearly 10,000 Hurricane Harvey survivors,
Malteser International Americas staff met Michelle, a frail Houstonian who evacuated her home before the storm unleashed nearly 25 trillion gallons of water on her hometown. Next to Michelle was her elderly, traumatized mother laying on a cot listless.
Michelle opened her broken heart and shared that she was brought to the center on a garbage truck…just in time…before her house was completely engulfed by deadly flood waters. She and her mother only have each other. And she doesn’t even know if her house is standing, let alone ever able to be repaired.
She pleaded that she needs to believe that organizations like Malteser International Americas will give her help and hope for the future.
Michelle and her mother are only two of tens of thousands of survivors displaced without homes in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. They are all strangers brought together under one roof to live without privacy, depending on others, and trying to retain an ounce of dignity in the wake the disaster.
In the shelter, mothers are carrying crying babies in their arms rummaging through heaping piles of donated clothes, shoes, and hygiene items. Some survivors are being pushed around in wheelchairs. And then there are some, like Michelle, who have a Bible nearby. All of them in their own way are just trying to come to terms with the magnitude of the disaster.
This is real life for survivors of Hurricane Harvey. They are vulnerable, they hurting, and they need our help.
The fact is that even though the hurricane left Houston and the surrounding regions destroyed, the devastating consequences are exponentially far reaching. Communicable respiratory and gastrointestinal disease can spread amid the breakdown in water sanitation. And stagnant water is ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus and other diseases, in the hot and humid Texas environment.
Michelle’s spirit is resilient and her faith is strong, but the reality is that more health disasters are lurking around the corner.
There will be an ongoing charitable need for us to fill in the critical gaps in relief, equipment, and materials after the first wave of relief organizations move on to the next disaster. It’s when the media cameras leave and the public forgets about the sick and the poor, and the most vulnerable, that we do our best work to make sure the children and families are NOT FORGOTTEN.