After evacuating Houston, we decided not to return empty-handed.

Photo by Jeff Fitlow

After the first wave of Harvey flooding receded, the news reported that dams on the west side of town could overflow and cause additional flooding. While our Westbury neighborhood home seemed safe at the time, if the rains returned or the dams overflowed, I wasn’t sure it would stay that way. Plus, the thought of evacuating on foot with my daughter, Sofia, two dogs and a cat was pretty scary. We headed to Dallas to stay with Alan Eynon ’86, a friend from my Baker College days, and his wife, Angela Scheuerle.

Once we settled in, Sofia and I had the conversation our Girl Scout troop has had so many times. How can we make a difference in our community? We knew from friends who experienced the Memorial Day and Tax Day floods that some supplies would soon be difficult to find in Houston: masks, cleaning supplies, underwear and diapers, to name a few. We posted on Facebook, asking for lists of high-demand items, and former-Houstonian Dotty Coffey offered to set up a GoFundMe account to help pay for supplies. My colleague at Fondren Library, Lisa Spiro ’92, agreed to coordinate distribution plans. In just a few days, friends from all over the country donated more than $5,000, and my hosts’ Dallas neighbors donated additional supplies.

Angela, Sofia and I rented a U-Haul trailer and filled it to the roof with supplies like work gloves, masks, laundry detergent, socks, underwear, boxes and bins, plus the holy grail of flood recovery — 18 floor fans for drying out houses. Everywhere we went, from the U-Haul store to Costco to Home Depot, we met the nicest people who went out of their way to help our project.

As soon as we could find gas, we drove back to Houston and distributed the supplies to individuals and through churches and neighborhood groups. We kept the trailer a few extra days to pick up and deliver supplies for local organizations. We were so lucky to avoid the flooding, but the heartbreak of watching our friends and colleagues pick up the pieces of their lives one more time would have been impossible to witness without taking some kind of action. Being able to work with my daughter and our friends to make a little difference in our neighborhood was definitely a privilege.

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