The state of Texas is fighting to keep its head above water thanks to one of the most devastating hurricanes to ever hit the United States. Hours before making landfall, Harvey upgraded from a category 3 to a category 4 hurricane, reaching wind speeds of 130+ mph., and ultimately left families along the southeast border of Texas helpless and unable to evacuate in time. And within a few days, Harvey dropped 11 trillion gallons of water and displaced tens of thousands of people. Families sat on rooftops for hours until they could be rescued, animals have been lost, and victims have been claimed. Even as a born-and-raised Houstonian who is rather "accustomed" to unpredictable weather and heavy rain, this storm absolutely broke my heart. I, along with so many others, did not anticipate the tragedy and catastrophic events that have fallen on my beloved state.
While I can certainly sit here and share photos, videos, and anecdotes of people I know who were affected by Harvey, I want to bring light to something amazing in my city that will help us all get back on our feet. I have read about Houston becoming the city that will teach others what it looks like to bridge gaps and break down walls to lift each other up to higher ground. Houston will help others be strong and carry on despite our differences in politics, ethnicities, and religious affiliations. I believe this wholeheartedly because I have already seen in the past few days how we have identified as one. In this sense of unity, we will rebuild our Thanksgiving dinners, Ramadan celebrations, Passover meals, Christmas festivities, and other cherished memories together. We can do this, but we will need help.
The Greater Houston area is home to 6.4 million people, but other cities like Victoria, Port Lavaca, Port Arthur, and Rockport were also in Harvey’s path. While Houston may be a city that becomes heavily spotlighted in the media, all of the cities of southeast Texas will need rebuilding for weeks and months to come. Houston and Texas cannot be strong when some of our cities are drowning. So I want to call on my profession to join UT Houston ASDA in its effort to be an example of what it means to come together and build each other up so that we are all better than we were before. We are asking you to join us in serving our communities during this difficult time and be a part of something beautiful. Our relief efforts are not just for Houston, they are for all the families that have been affected by Harvey. If you are interested in giving, please consider donating to our Restore Houston Fund, where 100% of the proceeds will be utilized to purchase needed items to donate at local shelters and also those affected within the UTSD community.
We want to offer our sincerest gratitude to all of the organizations and surrounding cities that have already opened and will open their homes and hearts. Thank you to the nurses, doctors, dentists, emergency personnel, first responders, and volunteers who have shown so much capacity for caring that shelters have had to turn away donations and help. Thank you to our neighboring states, our homegrown businesses, and countless others I apologetically have forgotten for helping us swim. Harvey continues to make a splash on the lives of many families, but with the continuous help of our friends and community, Texas will one day be afloat again.