Today in History: Outpouring of Chesed After Tropical Storm Harvey.
Six years ago today, at around 10 p.m., Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas as a powerful Category 4 hurricane.
As the strongest hurricane in the country since Hurricane Wilma in 2005, Hurricane Harvey brought 130 mph winds and a six-foot storm surge. As the hurricane moved inland, it lingered in Texas, bringing unparalleled rainfall and devastating flooding. According to the Texas Comptroller, parts of the Houston metro area had more than 50 inches of rain in a four-day period during the hurricane. Inland communities also experienced catastrophic flooding when the Colorado River overflowed its banks.
The Jewish Link reported on the storm's severe impact on the Jewish community of over 60,000. Seventy-one percent of the city's Jewish population experienced high flooding, and three of the city's five main shuls experienced significant flooding.
All the while this was happening, organizations around the world sprang to action to help. IsraAID, an Israeli international humanitarian organization, sent experts from Israel to assist the residents of Texas in dealing with the aftereffects of the storm. Israel donated $1 million in emergency aid to Houston's Jewish community to aid in post-Harvey recovery efforts. Additionally, the American Jewish Committee announced a $34,000 grant to aid the victims of flooding in Texas.
There were also many generous sponsors like Monsey Evergreen Kosher Market, Achiezer, Amudim, Seasons, and the Orthodox Union. These sponsors supplied food and supplies for the flood-ravaged areas, and individuals donated items.
Monsey Evergreen Kosher Market spearheaded the Rockland campaign. Requests for certain goods were specified for each location. Rockland was requested to expressly supply frozen cheese of any kind, frozen French fries, frozen gefilte fish, frozen bagels as well as bread, frozen waffles and pancakes, frozen gluten-free foods, waterproof ponchos, clipboards, notepads, pens, heavy-duty contractor bags (needed to dispose of moldering flood-soaked debris) and NS95 or higher rated face masks (to keep workers from inhaling toxic mold).
Rockland responded generously by providing these items for transportation to Houston. Donations of fresh foods were acceptable as well. The food was frozen and then transported in the convoy of trucks that left from Rockland, Baltimore, Queens, Clifton, Lakewood, Lawrence, Manhattan, and Scarsdale on Monday, September 4.
The storm induced eighty-eight fatalities. It also caused over $125 billion in damages, according to a recent estimate from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Credit: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott via Twitter.