POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — Taiina Ayala, a student from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, is from Dallas Texas. At 1,600 miles away, she can only hope for a promising recovery for her home state.
“I feel sad and helpless. Since I’m so far away it is hard for me to do anything. If I were home, it would be easier for me to help,” says Ayala heartbroken. “At the same time, I am also happy to see all of the positive articles and news about people reaching out to Houston. Texans in general are very hospitable, so it is not surprising to see the amount of love and support they are giving to each other.”
Houston is left in ruins after Hurricane Harvey swept through the devastated city–homes are flooded, the death toll is up to 60 people and damage costs are at $180 million. The disastrous event has sparked a global outreach to help the city recover.
Ayala sister, Meagin, who is back home in Dallas knows a handful of people who are currently in Houston and gives her updates regarding the hurricane.
“We hear the waters are receding, but the death count is up to 60 and Houston is under martial law,” says Meagin Ayala.
She has close connections to people in Houston, like her client’s husband who was situated there in a halfway house–a center for helping former drug addicts, prisoners, psychiatric patients or others to adjust to life in general society. He was scheduled to be released that week, but when Hurricane Harvey hit, he and the others serving their time were stranded until they could be relocated. Meagin’s boyfriend’s friend who lives in Houston also suffered severe flooding of their apartment complex and have no choice but to stay with relatives who live up north.
Meagin is a claims representative at a moderately sized, non-standard auto insurance company and her company has donated backpacks, cooling towels for emergency workers, t-shirts and more.
“We have tried to reach some of our insureds regarding unrelated claims and we have family members telling us that they aren’t there right now because they are out rescuing people in their boats and monster trucks,” says Meagin.
Ayala and her family have not been directly hit in Dallas by Harvey, but they and the rest of the state are making efforts to help. The Dallas convention center is currently housing many of the displaced Houston refugees and volunteers are traveling south to aid the affected population.
Multiple oil refineries were closed due to the hurricane and news of a gas shortage spread throughout Dallas causing a scramble to stock up.
“The gas station lines wrapped around buildings,” said Meagin. “People were filling up barrels of gas and filling up their boats in case they would need to siphon the gas later. In the end, it turns out the gas shortage was not as serious as people thought–only a few gas stations were set to close until gas could be delivered. Basically the media created mass hysteria for nothing, and we created our own gas shortage.” Fortunately more gas has been delivered and gas stations are beginning to open back up. A similar situation was found at the markets where people wiped out the grocery stores to stock up on their supply of food.
Animal shelters are putting lost animals up for adoption and the University of North Texas has welcomed transfer students who are unable to attend school due to the hurricane. They will resume classes at the University for the rest of the semester.
Hurricane Harvey has left Texas in a dark state, and it is especially worrisome to those who are miles away from home. Though much is uncertain about the future of Houston, it gives Ayala hope that all of Texas and the rest of the nation are coming together to help them recover.