REPOST: Hurricane Ike – Places to Volunteer & Get Help

I’m reposting this with the updated info of places to help to get it higher on the page. Please help if you can.

Original Post

If you have not left yet, here is a link the state put together to help with things to bring and maps for best evac routes. Need a place to stay? hotel rooms still available hereFEMA has a page up as well with generic info about what they are doing but NO numbers to get services or volunteer yet. Be safe everyone!!!

Updated Info

Over 2000 people have been rescued from the Galveston and Houston area as damage far exceeded what residents expected, but not what they warned about.  While many chose to stay because the Rita evacuation felt like it was worse than remaining behind, people continue to forget that some people stay behind because they do not have the economic means to evacuate – either to find out about places to go, to afford extended evacuation (hotel, food, paid laundry, etc.), or they were immigrants who feared being caught or not having jobs to return to when the storm cleared if they left. While we can certainly critique able-bodied, financially stable, people who shrugged at the on coming storm, I do not think it is fair to assume everyone who staid behind was somehow being ignorant and “shiftless.”

More than that, there is at least one story of a Galveston prison that was not evacuated despite being in the line of the storm. Galveston officials required prison guards to stay and work and they did not evacuate prisoners. Both the workers, who risked losing their jobs, and the prisoners, whose lives were deemed expendable, had to be evacuated post-Hurricane. When we look at their case, we must ask ourselves exactly what value is human life? Are some more valuable than others? We don’t know who was in that prison, but even if we did, when we decided their lives are worthless are we not as guilty as the people who we criminalize for the same thing? And even if you cannot get behind that idea, what about their workers – the nurse, the guards, the sanitation staff, the food service workers – are their lives worth less because they are working class?

What about elders? Stories are now coming out that elders in a Houston based elder care housing complex were abandoned by caregivers in the night as Ike picked up. They were later evacuated post Hurricane by emergency relief agents. Like in Katrina, it seems that even to caregivers, the elders of our nation are expendable. Despite the opportunity to learn from past mistakes and re-evaluate the place elders, differently-abled, poor, immigrants, mothers of color and poor mothers, etc. have in our society, in times of disaster their lives remain worth less than that of the able bodied, middle class, non-elders.

For those who sit on higher ground watching, these are the people they fail to think about as they sit in judgment of those who have to be evacuated later. Their self-righteous anger masks the inequalities of our society and the continued failure to care for the least among us.

Remember, this was not a mandatory evacuation.

If you would like to help survivors:

If You Need Help

  • Islamic Society of Houston is organizing food, water, and homestays for evacuees
  • Houston ASPCA and Humane Society are collecting and caring for lost pets call 713-861-0161
  • Robert’s Lafitte in Galveston is offering a place for the GLBTQ community to regroup, taking names of people who need help and/or can help, and serving as a safe haven in the aftermath. Address: 2501 Avenue Q phone: (409) 765-9092
  • consult disaster links in original post above

There is one last thing I need to say about this Hurricane. When the RNC was scheduled to happen during 

Hurricane Gustav, John McCain made a public show of going down to the Gulf and stationing himself and Palin at FEMA Missippi headquarters. He spoke about the importance of our next President to stop and “get their hands dirty” caring for the N. American people. As you may know, McCain was with Pres. Bush celebrating his birthday at a lavish birthday party during Katrina despite having said, if he were president he would have been there to help. So this time, instead of distracting the president, he showed up. When the photo op never materialized he returned to the RNC.

 

John McCain is not in Texas. He has made a small statement in support of evacuees but has made no plans to go “get his hands dirty” in the state that is not only devastated but also was among the most giving when the national government failed Katrina victims.

Barrack Obama did not go to the Gulf during the last Hurricane. He said it was more important to allow 

emergency workers to focus on the task rather than on his safety and the safety of his advisers who would accompany him. Eschewing the opportunity for a photo op, he issued a statement asking people to give and committed to re-directing the enthusiasm for his campaign toward volunteerism and fund raising in the aftermath. He has already raised considerable funds for Gustav and has promised to do the same for Ike.

 

When Ike hit, Obama cancelled his guest appearance on Saturday Night Live claiming it was inappropriate to be a part of a comedic tv show while members of the nation were in such dire need. He could have used the SNL spot as an opportunity to not only bring back some of his “wow factor” in this campaign but also to break the fourth wall and actually take time to talk about Ike ensuring a built in photo op and chance to look more compassionate than McCain. He chose not to make himself the hero but to actually show respect to the people in the Gulf.

I know some people will resent my ending this post on a political note. As both candidates have said, natural disasters are not a time for partisan politics. But I remember Katrina, the memory is grafted on the marrow in my bones, images burned into the backs of my eyelids from nightmare filled nights about the nation we had become, and so I think we do have to look at the actions of our potential presidents and ask what we can learn from them about who they will represent in office and who they will leave behind.

—-

images

  • Galveston County Daily News/Kevin M. Cox
  • BBC/Getty unattributed
  • BBC/Getty unattributed
  • White House/ Paul Morse (this image is on the official whitehouse.gov page with the date 8/29/05)
  • Obama in Louisiana in 2005. unattributed
  • unattributed

 

3 thoughts on “REPOST: Hurricane Ike – Places to Volunteer & Get Help

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