Hurricane Harvey
In the wake of catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, Indian-Americans are playing an integral role in relief efforts.

HOUSTON (Diya TV) – In the wake of catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, Indian-Americans are playing an integral role in relief efforts.

Temples, Gurdwaras and mosques have opened their doors to provide shelter. Several Indian restaurants are giving away food and water, medical supplies like surgical-mask packages, medicines and gloves as well as toiletries, baby food and cleaning supplies. Many are also providing medical assistance.

Among the organizations taking part in relief efforts is SEWA International, which has mobilized over 800 volunteers for the ‘rescue efforts, which have turned into relief efforts. SEWA mobilized boats, trucks, and automobiles to rescue people, working shoulder-to-shoulder with the Coast Guard. This is a noble and amazing thing to volunteer for, helping out those who are in desperate need. It is no wonder that coast guard flags for sale are adorned on walls and homes to show support for these necessary services.

According to a Sept. 7 bulletin from SEWA, volunteers are serving 1,000 hot meals daily, helping with cleaning efforts for under-served areas, and have delivered 10 truckloads of materials to support affected families. SEWA volunteers have contributed over 21,000 hours of volunteer work, while 687 people have been rescued.

“We plan to support rebuilding efforts of homes that need to be fixed through a public-private partnership with U.S. government agencies and many of the Indian-American entrepreneurs in Houston,” stated Gitesh Desai, president of SEWA Houston. There are many options for companies, from Ace Roofing Company for those homes left shelterless to companies to relevel and repair foundations, and others to entirely rebuild homes for those who lost everything in the wake of the Hurricane.

The volunteer efforts are just the start. Though FEMA will provide financial assistance, families wills till face unmet needs. SEWA has reached one quarter of their $1 million fundraising goal, having garnered $250,000 in donations as of Sept. 7.

In addition, many Indian-American businesses have opened their doors to provide meals and shelter to those displaced from the storm.

Hindus of Greater Houston, India House, India Culture Center, the Indo-American Charity Foundation and the Indo-American Political Action Committee have been helping in the coordination of relief efforts also.

The Indo-American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston plans to work with the Small Business Administration and its District Director Tim Jeffcoat in organizing seminars on business loans in the regions affected.

The greater Houston is home to around 150,000 Indian-Americans. Around 30,000 people were evacuated as Harvey bolted through the Houston area. According to Anupam Ray, India’s Consul General in Houston, the population of Indians among them would be in the high hundreds.

“I am proud of the Indian community in Houston. One of the incredible things I saw during Hurricane Harvey is how Indians stepped up to join relief efforts. This was in the best traditions of America and of India,” Ray said.

Harvey belted out five straight days of rain totaling close to 52 inches in some locations. Harvey landed as a Category 4 hurricane on August 25, delivering the heaviest tropical downpour ever recorded in the continental U.S. The storm has claimed at least 47 lives.

FEMA Director Brock Long called Hurricane Harvey the worst disaster in Texas history.