An Update on Hurricane Harvey Relief

Avital Ingber, who will become the CEO of The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston this November, shared a personal reflection following a visit to Houston this week in support of her new community. Read her powerful words.

While we are keeping an eye on South Florida and Hurricane Irma, we are working in collaboration with The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) in support of Houston as recovery efforts continue in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. The outpouring of support from the Greater Washington Jewish community has been tremendous.

  • As of September 5, our Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund has collected $118,151 from 835 donors, 100% of which is being distributed to support the victims.
  • An additional grant of $50,000 from Federation’s Emergency Reserve Fund was unanimously approved this week by Federation’s Executive Committee. These funds will address the short-and long-term needs of the recovering community.

In a recent update from JFNA, the following was reported from on-the-ground in Houston:

  • The wreckage in Houston continues to reveal itself, and the realization that the community has been brutally shattered has become the new normal.
  • Cleanup has begun in earnest in areas where it’s possible, but West Houston remains under water.
  • More than 70% of the Jewish community lives in parts of the city that were badly flooded, and that includes nearly 12,000 Jewish elderly.
  • The start of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is now less than two weeks away and flooded synagogues are scrambling to find places to hold services.
  • The Houston JCC is no longer serving as a distribution center so there is no longer a mechanism for managing donations of physical items. In-kind donations should be sent to the United Way of Greater Houston.
  • There are many volunteer efforts throughout the Houston area and within the Jewish community. Outside groups are beginning to arrive, but getting volunteers and supplies to where they’re needed is difficult and in some cases impossible; housing and feeding them is also a challenge.

Once these challenges can be addressed, we hope to organize a Greater Washington volunteer group to assist in Houston, and will provide more details once they are available.

What Comes Next
JFNA anticipates that the following items will be significant parts of what we are looking to fund and support next:

  • Help relieve communal workers (day school faculty, human service agency personnel, clergy, etc.) hit by flooding balance their work and personal crises
  • Repair major communal facilities that have experience major damage including the JCC, Seven Acres nursing home, Beth Yeshurun day school, Torch and three synagogues.
  • Offer mental health support to families that have now been flooded two or three times in less than three years
  • Assist victims who have been displaced and require temporary housing, transportation, legal services, etc.

How you can help right now
Raising funds remains the most important thing we can do right now, as the damage assessment continues.

100% of your donation to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund will support the victims of this devastating natural disaster and address their most immediate critical needs.