The ten volunteers sent by the
A couple of the students who had brought their computers were trained in the new information management system that will enable evacuees to find their loved ones. They spent the morning distributing fliers with information on where and how to register and the afternoon actually registering people. Other students spent part of the day helping to distribute clothing and shoes to “shoppers” who would come to a large warehouse room for supplies.
The students have videotaped hours of footage of evacuees telling their stories and have photographed extensively. Our deepest thanks to our hosts at Houston Hillel.
Below are short updates from the students themselves:
From Josh Grossberg:
Things are rather hectic down here as you can imagine, but I wanted to fill you guys in on all the goings on. To put it succinctly: amidst the constant heartbreak among so many of the evacuees over the tragedy, not to mention latent anger at a variety of government officials, there's also a beautiful spirit of camaraderie here. People are hopeful because they have to be. It's all they've got left. The materials things don't matter so much as rebuilding what's inside. Some evacuees (volunteer coordinators tell us to call them "guests" and definitely NOT refugees, but I think evacuees is a fair way to describe them) are very open about their constant belief that their faith in God will sustain them in these trying times. Others are devastated, not knowing where their children or relatives are. I talked to one woman whose son went missing while she worked at Methodist hospital during the height of the flooding. She was recently reunited with her husband just yesterday. We're hoping to help find her a place, which doesn't seem as difficult as you may think. So many generous people from all over
From Rachel Ishofsky:
My mind, my heart, just about every part of my body is racing. We've been working all day, playing with kids, distributing food, doing innumerable little things that seem not to matter and yet somehow do. I want to write more but I cant, I need to go back...I just can't sit anymore. Please thank everyone for their efforts back home, it will mean the world of difference when the initial rush of support ends...this is a long term commitment and we need to be in this for the long haul. Thank you for letting us have this experience.
From David Yaroslavsky:
I don't know where to begin. The scenes in
From Rebecca Reaves:
My experience in
From Rachel Fertel and Seth Baer-Harsha:
So far, this
Photos by Max Orenstein