By Michael C. Duke
The front entryway of the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC was transformed into a depot for flood-recovery supplies this past week.
More than a hundred vehicles passed through the drive Saturday morning, May 30, and were greeted by volunteers, JCC and Jewish Federation of Greater Houston staff. The workers helped load boxes, bins, tape, packing materials, cleaning supplies, protective equipment, trash bags, bottled water and replacement cellphone chargers into the vehicles of those who were in need — and at no cost.
Meanwhile, they also helped unload vehicles that had come by to replenish the donated supplies. Victory Packaging donated a bulk of the packing supplies.
“It makes you cry that you went through the flood,” said Bernice Miller, a flood victim who came by the J to pick up supplies after her Meyerland home took in a foot-and-a-half of water, causing extensive damage to flooring, cabinetry and furniture. “But, it also makes you cry that people are here to help,” she added.
Bianca Wigder and her 12-year-old daughter, Makayla, were part of the volunteer crew that distributed and received the donated aid.
“We didn’t flood, so that allowed us to come here and help those who did,” Bianca told the JHV.
She said boxes, packing materials and cleaning products were in highest demand. Many flood victims had friends who volunteered to go to the J to pick up and drop off whatever was needed.
Next door to the J, Federation staff transformed their boardroom into an information and coordination center for volunteers and flood victims. The walls and tables were papered with names, contact information and actions needed.
The Federation’s Lisa Stanton is leading the effort, working hand-in-glove with Jewish Family Service of Houston to manage the volunteer response. Over the past several days, she’s coordinated volunteers, supply donations, housing situations and storage spaces.
“We’re here trying to help as much as we can,” Stanton told the JHV early Saturday afternoon, five days after the devastating flood. “People don’t realize how much need there is right now.
“We need more volunteers to help with recovery efforts, and a professional system to get the aid fast to those who need it,” she said.
Federation staff also spent the weekend going out into flooded neighborhoods as part of a local social media-organized effort to deliver meal packages, door to door.
“The amount of devastation is crazy,” said Meredith Segal, who worked the Meyerland area with her daughter, Zoe, getting food to those in need. “We covered a lot of ground today, but there’s so much more still to do.”
She added, “I just want to give the entire Meyerland neighborhood a hug.”