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    Helping navigate the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

    Day 273

    Speaking My Language

    This year’s devastating hurricane season on the southern coast of the U.S. has left ARC teams wondering how we might respond. While our focus is normally outside the United States, our connection to disenfranchised people reaches our own shores as well. So, on Day 273 we sent a team to Houston, Texas to see how we could help communities still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

    One of the first things our team encountered was that people still don’t know what is happening or what steps they should take – especially Spanish-speakers. In northeast Houston – where our team is working – FEMA hasn’t been able to reach the families whose homes were damaged or flooded in the storm. As a result, the families have been in limbo, not knowing what they should do to make their homes safe or prepare for the next steps of recovery.

    So, on Day 273, we wanted to help people out of the darkness and empower them with information they critically need. So we translated some critical FEMA documents into Spanish to distribute in the community, including: 1) Tips to Track Disaster-Related Costs; 2) Don’t Wait. Clean Up Debris as Soon as Possible; 3) How to Save Damaged and Personal Treasures; 4) Get Rid of Mold; and 5) NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) Policyholders Must Follow the Guidelines. And then we printed, stapled and assembled the documents into packets that our partners are distributing around the community.

    “Many home owners are still living in their homes, with mold from floor to ceiling, either because they have nowhere else to go or because they’re unaware of the associated health risks,” said ARC team member Leah Jaslow. “Especially for those that are unaware that there is a problem with living in their homes post-flooding, having resources they can understand is essential during this critical time.”

    These spanish-language resource packets are not just serving Harvey-affected communities in Houston. James, a volunteer our team met in Houston, was preparing for a support mission to Puerto Rico to help families hit by Hurricane Maria. We quickly re-purposed the resource packet for Puerto Rico and provided it to James to take with him. James was thrilled to have the resource, “I will be way ahead of the game with these.”

    Our team will be spending the next couple of weeks helping in Houston. Stay tuned as they do the doable…

     

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