Columns

Good Samaritans, Helping Hand in Houston

When a call for assistance goes out, the folks at Bandera’s Helping Hand Crisis Center respond—particularly when the call comes from Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.
As the strongest hurricane to hit the United States in more than a decade, Harvey swept into the Gulf of Mexico the last week of August, devastating communities, both large and small, along Texas’ Third Coast.
On Friday, August 25, not satisfied with bedeviling the Corpus Christi area, Harvey, then a category 4 storm, made landfall at 10 p.m., with its eye passing between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor. The next day, after being downgraded to cat 1, Harvey still packed maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour. After that, catastrophic flooding commenced along Texas’ coastal.
“On Thursday, August 7, we got a call for help from the Houston area,” explained Laura White, assistance director of Helping Hand. “(Executive Director) Jesse (Parks) said, ‘I need to go help,’ and I told her, ‘You’re not going without me!’”
After explaining what they planned to do, Parks and White secured the blessing of the crisis center’s board of directors, who told them to close the complex at 1116 12th St. and “just go.” As White explained, “When we were flooded in Bandera, volunteers came from out of town to help and we needed to return the favor.”
Thursday was spent packing White’s covered trailer with everything a foray into a disaster area might need. “Ranch Radio in Kerrville ran public service announcements asking for donations for our trip, which brought an unbelievable response. We can’t thank the people at 92.3 The Ranch enough.”
According to White, by the end of Thursday, sufficient donations, supplies and materials had been assembled to assist an entire Houston neighborhood. “We want to assure everyone, however, we used only food items and funds that had been earmarked for hurricane relief efforts,” Parks said.
Art Crawford, executive director of operations for Bandera’s Silver Sage Community Center, also responded, offering supplies that had been donated to that organization for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. “We were able to help so many more people due to the kindness of everyone at Silver Sage,” White said.
Before packing the spacious trailer, White took it to Tripp’s Tires, 407 Main St., to make sure the tires were sufficiently sound for the trek to Houston. As she had suspected, however, the trailer’s tires were deemed “shot.”
“When Tripp heard what we were planning, he offered us new tires at half-price because of our nonprofit status. It saved us a lot of money,” White said.
Volunteers for the trip to the coast also included a work crew from Hammerhead Construction, who loaded up their tools and generators to help. The crew had recently completed work on the interior of the on-site event center at Helping Hand’s Village of Hope.
“We left for Houston at 8 a.m., Friday, August 8, and I got back home at 8 p.m., that Sunday evening,” White said.
Check next week’s column for what Helping Hand volunteers accomplished in Houston.