I have a heavy heart tonight as I write this post. As you have all seen on the news, Hurricane Harvey has completely destroyed my city. This is the city where I was born and raised. Where I grew up and became the woman I am today. This is HOME – to my family, friends and so many people I love dearly. The past week has been an absolute nightmare, and to be honest, the news doesn’t even do it justice. Seeing everything first hand and how so many families were torn apart, stripped of EVERYTHING and left homeless has been so incredibly emotional.
I have to start by saying that my family has been extremely blessed. We did not get any water in our homes and for that, I am forever grateful. We did lose power, but that was actually a blessing in disguise after watching all of the horror take place. Our streets were completely flooded, so we were unable to leave our home to go help those in need. All around us (I mean, literally less than a mile away) people were being evacuated by boats and taken to shelters. Our family and friends! And we couldn’t do a thing. I felt so helpless and brokenhearted. It’s a horrible feeling wanting to go help, but knowing you can’t.
Once the rain had stopped and the water had resided, we immediately started figuring out ways to help. We had been staying at my in-laws all weekend, so I ran home and started filling bags with clothes, shoes, toiletries, anything and everything I could find to donate.
We went to the grocery store to stock up on food (since our power went out, we had to throw away everything out of our refrigerator) and supplies and almost EVERYTHING was gone. No bread. No meat. No milk. They were even limiting 2 cases of water per checkout because they wanted to make sure there was enough for everyone. Trucks couldn’t make it into town to restock the stores, and it was honestly one of the scariest feelings I’ve ever felt.
(Sorry for the blurry pictures – I had to screenshot from a video I took)
I live down the street from our local police station, so my mother-in-love and I decided to make a huge meal for them since they had been working day-in and day-out. We were honestly trying to think of ANYTHING we could do to help. The problem was, there was still so much water around the city, you couldn’t go very far. I’m not saying all this to prove that I helped out, because I only wish I could have done more. I’m trying to paint a picture for everyone of how bad this really was.
By Wednesday, the water had gone down enough for us to be able to really leave our neighborhood and start helping those in need. My momma went to my aunt’s house, which was formally my grandparents who passed away a few years ago, and found out she had got a couple feet of water in her home. We were all devastated, but knew we needed to immediately get to work. We started ripping out carpet and dry wall and sucking up as much water as possible before mold could start to form. And let me just tell you – cutting and ripping out carpet is NO JOKE.
It was extremely emotional to see a house that my family has years and years of memories in be completely ruined. Aside from the material items that were lost (and yes, most of them are replaceable, but that still doesn’t make it easy) there were also items that could not be replaced. Flash back to my childhood days (lol) where there were no such thing as digital cameras. My aunt had ALL of our baby pictures (my brothers, sisters and mine). Some of the only pictures we have left of my granny and papaw and their childhood. I’m talking OLD pictures, but things we hold so dearly. And a lot of these were ruined. That’s when it really hit home with me. My aunt had about 2 feet of water in her home… some people had 10 feet. Some people had water up to their attic! They were literally stripped of EVERYTHING, and just thinking about those people I have tears flowing down my face.
We have spent the last two days helping family and friends clean out their homes. Rip out carpet, tear out dry wall, throw away everything that was destroyed. It has been overwhelming and so emotional, but I just have to say, I have never been more proud to be a Houstonian. After the worst tragedy this city (and one of the biggest in the entire nation) has ever seen, I have been AMAZED to see everyone come together to rebuild. To help out their neighbor, to even help out a stranger! It is unlike anything I’ve ever seen and I am PROUD this is the city that raised me. Houston has shown this country what it means for community to come together. Race, religion, sexuality doesn’t matter. We simply save each other because that’s what we are supposed to do.
Here’s a few shocking facts about Hurricane Harvey:
- The winds were 130 MPH when Harvey hit Texas
- 300,000 people were without power on Saturday
- 3,500 water rescues performed by Houston police and the US Coast Guard. This doesn’t include rescues made by private citizens from all around the state
- 113 pets were rescued, with numbers growing as waters go down
- 32,000 people were in shelters in Texas alone
- 38 reported deaths so far
- 1 TRILLION gallons of rain fell in Harris County (where I live) – That is enough to run Niagara Falls for 15 days. If you’ve ever been there you understand how absolutely INSANE that is.
- 9 TRILLION gallons of rain fell in the greater Houston area. That is enough water to fill the Great Salt Lake TWICE. It would fill the Empire State Building 33,906 times. It would cover the lower 48 states with .17” of water. Just let that sink in.
- 51.2 inches of rainfall at Cedar Bayou, making it the largest amount of rain during a named storm in US history
- 14,000 Texas National Guard troops activated, which is the full amount
There are so many people I want to thank and wish I could do it personally to each one. The Red Cross, who has been absolutely AMAZING. FEMA. Our first responders. Our mayor: Sylvester Turner. News anchors. All of these people have been working countless hours without sleep for almost a week just to help save as many people as they can and to keep us educated. Donations from around the state and around the country. THANK YOU! Thank you for your prayers. I truly believe in the power of prayer and if we all come together and continue to pray for these families, God will do incredible things. I hope that so many people come to find Jesus in the midst of this horrific tragedy, because at the end of the day, our faith is the strongest thing we need to hold onto.
So how can YOU help? I know there have been several things going around on social media (which, praise the Lord for this social media generation, because it has truly helped out SO much!) and I am not saying I have them all, or even a fraction of them, but if we work together to spread awareness, every little bit helps! If you haven’t done anything to help yet, please do. It won’t just take weeks or months to recover, but YEARS. I know everyone is finally getting back into their homes and trying to rebuild their life, but this is when donations are needed MOST. Think about it – these people are coming into homes with NOTHING left.
Text the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation. You can also visit redcross.org or call 1-800-RED-CROSS. Don’t worry if they don’t respond right away. They have had an overwhelming response (which is AMAZING – keep them coming) but every single dollar counts.
JJ Watt Houston Flood Relief Fund – Any donation that you can spare, no matter how large or small, is greatly appreciated.
SPCA of Texas – so many animals were abandoned or lost during the storm, and they need all the help they can rescuing each one of them!
Here is a list of necessities that would be greatly appreciated: water, diapers, wipes, baby formula, baby food, bathroom essentials, feminine hygeine products, coloring books/colors, children’s books/young adult novels, toys, towels, blankets, and pillows.
There are several shelters all across the Houston area so click here to see a complete list of shelters that are in need of items and volunteers.
If you are from another city or state, please comment below where people from your city can bring their donations!
Start collecting NOW. They will need donations for months to come.
Home goods – most of the people who got flooded did not expect to because they weren’t in a flood zone (which means, a huge majority of these victims did not have flood insurance). They had EVERYTHING destroyed: beds, couches, pots and pans, bathroom essentials, towels, clothes, lamps, etc. Please start collecting any old home good items you have or if you can financially afford to buy new ones, that is amazing as well. I can try my best to keep you guys updated on where we can take these items.
My Personal Favorite Places Giving Back:
Golden Strand Jewelry 20% of proceeds of all purchases NOW through the month of September will be going towards Hurricane Harvey Relief
SipHipHooray is joining JJ Watt and The Texas Flood Relief Efforts to assist those affected by Hurricane Harvey in the Texas and Houston areas by donating 100% of all proceeds of their “Texas Strong” koozies to The JJ Watt Foundation. These koozies are only $5 and SO cute! I ordered a bunch of them and they will forever remind me of how our city came together through this horrible time #HoustonStrong #TexasStrong
Kate Elizabeth Photography – I absolutely adore my photographer, Kate. She has the biggest heart in the world and constantly shows Jesus’ love to everyone she meets. She has decided to gift a deserving couple her photography services for their wedding day FREE OF CHARGE ($5,000 value straight from her heart). If you know a couple deserving of this that has been affected by the hurricane, please go to Kate’s Instagram page for details @kate_elizabeth_photography
Gorjana will be donating 50% of all sales on September 2nd and 3rd in store and online to The American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.
Lushra Texas Forever Wine Glasses 50% of proceeds will be donated to Houston flood relief efforts. Absolutely obsessed with these – I bought two!
PRAYERS! I truly believe in the power of prayer. And I mean, the kind of prayer where you get on your hands and knees and cry out. The Lord has His hand on all of this and let’s bring others to find Jesus through this tragedy.
Lastly, I want to thank the companies and brands I’m currently working with as they have been so patient during this hard time. I promise I will get back to my normal posting schedule, but for now, my family, friends and city are my priority. I thank you each for your support and if you have any places in your city that are accepting donations, please leave that information in the comments below so we can have an easy place to pass on to others. I love you all, let’s stay #HoustonStrong #TexasStrong