The Orthodox Union President Moishe Bane and Executive Vice President Allen Fagin, together with Rabbinical Council of America President Rabbi Elazar Muskin and Rabbinical Council of America Executive VP Rabbi Mark Dratch, on Tuesday sent out an email asking Jews wherever they may be to find out how they can assist the Jewish community of Houston during the Tropical Storm Harvey crisis.
In parts of the Houston area, the slow-moving tropical storm Harvey has set a record for rainfall from a single storm anywhere in the continental United States, with 51.88 inches since the storm began. According to the Harris County Flood Control District, as much as 30% of Harris County’s 1,800 square miles of land is flooded.
“We had the chance to speak with some of the representatives of Houston’s orthodox Jewish community and the word they kept repeating was ‘catastrophic,'” went the OU-RCA email. “This is the third major flood to strike Houston in the last three years and, by all accounts, it is the most devastating by a long shot. Hundreds have been forced from their homes and the rains have still not ceased.”
“Many Jewish community members who sheltered others in previous floods are themselves in need this time around. Homes that had been dry for the previous storms have taken on feet of water in the past 24-48 hours.”
“What can you do right now to help? Visit our Help for Houston website and discover how you can offer assistance. Significant funds will be needed in the weeks ahead as the Jewish community members work to repair and rebuild their homes or, in some cases, their synagogues. Per the request of Houston Jewish community members: Please do not send clothing, toys or the like at this time – they simply have no place to store anything that is not portable. Right now donations of funds are most helpful.”
“Additionally, your thoughts and prayers are needed more than ever – please sign our form and commit to reciting Tehillim on behalf of our brethren in Houston.”
“Once the flood waters recede and the insurance adjusters have had their first look, massive manpower will be needed in the days, weeks and months ahead. Learn how you can volunteer to help in Houston. Please do not simply “show up” in Houston without coordinating with a volunteer organization like the OU to ensure that all assistance will be directed when and where it is needed.”
The email concludes: “A positive aspect to emerge from such tragic circumstances is to witness the response of those who want to help. The immediate response to the RCA’s and OU’s call for help has been phenomenal but we have much more work ahead of us.”