Showing Up For Houston the Way You Show Up For Iraq: Hurricane Harvey Update

Launching an emergency response… rushing food to distribution points… coming alongside local partners. Sound familiar?

This could easily describe the ways you care for families in Iraq and Syria—but it’s also how you are showing up in hurricane-drenched Texas.

After 27 trillion gallons of water dumped on Texas and Louisiana the week of August 25, after more than 100,000 homes were damaged, 500,000 cars ruined, and septic tanks overflowed, you showed up in Texas with the same powerful, active love that you’ve shown in the Middle East for years.

We are here to help the marginalized, under-resourced, and forgotten. We want to love the people no one else will love. Your involvement and generosity have impacted hundreds of people in the Houston area—in neighborhoods that were impoverished even before the storm. And we are building a long-term response to help families get back in their homes and put their lives back together.

Thank you for choosing to show up, whether in Iraq or Texas. Thank you for being the kind of people who walk alongside others, hearing their stories and crafting solutions together. Thank you for giving generously.

Here are a few highlights of the difference you’ve made since Hurricane Harvey.

Emergency Food, Water, and Supplies

In the first days of flooding, you showed up with emergency supplies. You helped turn an abandoned school into a community center and distribution point for a town of 5,000 people west of Houston. You gave out linens and towels to families returning home and $3,000 in food and gas gift cards to help parents who were out of work during the storm—so they could continue to care for their children.

You partnered with an Islamic Center in Beaumont, Texas, bringing emergency supplies to serve the urgent needs of their community.

You paid rent and college tuition payment for a mom who was out of work during the storm.

You paid a month’s worth of rent for 12 refugee families in Houston who couldn’t work during the storm and were in danger of losing their homes.

And you made a whole lot of kids happy by distributing over 2,300 pieces of brand new clothing to students in Houston schools, many of whom lost everything.

Cleaning Out and Rebuilding Homes

As flood waters receded, thousands of families needed help throwing away damaged goods, ripping out drywall, and spraying for mold.

You jumped in with supplies and manpower. You provided three truckloads of trash bags, bleach, latex gloves, dust masks, spray bottles, brooms, paper towels, box fans, and other supplies. You gave shovels, crowbars, and other tools to help people tear out drywall in flood-damaged homes. In a race against time—and mold—your quick response made all the difference.

You donated 41 chemical sprayers so that volunteer teams could fight mold. You helped provide over 760 humidifiers to speed up the process of drying out homes. You gave household items like mattresses, tables, chairs, and bookshelves to families who needed them.

In all, you have are helping clean and rebuild more than 250 homes throughout the greater Houston area. You are helping people with no flood insurance or financial resources to rebuild or replace what was lost.

Our goal in this phase of our response is to provide basic building materials and to mobilize volunteers for demolition and minor repairs so that homes can be livable until further assistance is available. 

Water Quality Testing

In one neighborhood in an unincorporated part of Houston—one of the first neighborhoods to flood— the waters caused septic tanks to overflow into wells, contaminating the water coming out of taps. The water testing recommended by the county took a fair amount of time and precision to perform. The instructions were only in English—a major barrier in a neighborhood where many families speak only Spanish.

You helped us perform an initial set of water testing on eight homes. Half the tests came back showing e coli contamination, so we expanded our water distribution to cover the entire community and made sure families knew how to decontaminate their wells. This kind of practical help means families stay healthy and can focus on repairs and getting back to work.  

Building Relationships Along the Way

Building relationships is central to everything we do. It’s the way you have been loving people in Iraq and Syria for years. You don’t just drop off supplies at the door. You take the time to sit in people’s kitchens, walk through damaged rooms, and see the shop out back. You listen to their experiences and memories, but also get to hear about the hope and determination. 

And just like in Iraq, this is done in collaboration with local partners. Currently, we are working with eight organizations in and around Houston, including other nonprofits and faith-based groups. We’re coming alongside those who have a vision for how to provide long-lasting help in underserved neighborhoods.

100% of your donations are going directly to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey. You have been incredibly generous with your outpouring of love for these families. Thank you for being the kind of people who show up and respond when you see a need. Stay tuned for more from Houston.