From the heart of Houston, after the devastating affects from Harvey and now Irma, our own Vanessa Eixman, a JSA team member, long-time telecom thought leader and friend, writes the below blog.
As an industry, let's come together and make a difference, for Vanessa's community, and for each of us. As those American cities devastated by the recent hurricanes heal, so do we.
Vanessa: Having lived in Houston all my life, I can say that I have never experienced a hurricane quite like this. Houstonians are tough and are very familiar with the major storm drill – buy lots of water, stock plenty of food (including PB&J, bread and soup), have a generator on hand in case the power goes out (Houston is hot even with AC!), and we tend to wait the storms out.
When I was in grade school, we even prepped for a hurricane by boarding up our windows to prevent glass from shattering throughout the house. This storm though, had a different vibe from the start.
By the Thursday before the storm hit, stores were rationing water to only 3 cases; the bread aisle was empty; gas stations were running out of gas; and the Home Depot store was in a frenzy. My son’s request was to get plenty of ramen noodles in case our power was out and even that was already sold out.
As a Category 4 hurricane with 132 mph winds, Harvey sure left its mark:
- Over 30,000 people are displaced in shelters
- Estimates of costs already hit the $190B mark, making it the costliest disaster in US history
- Harvey dropped 52 inches of rain on the Texas Gulf Coast
- Over 19 trillion gallons of rain dropped on Texas
- Massive flooding with tens of thousands left without homes, property, cars
But rather than focus on the devastating damage, I want to reflect on some amazing stories of hope, generosity, caring and love. There were so many families were recused from their neighborhoods by total strangers that came to the Houston area with their personal boats, trucks, and hearts to help anyone in need.
A friend of ours, swam out of his second story window to a waiting kayak as the water rose up through his house.
A close friend of mine, rescued an 80 year old woman and her 3 dogs. She had decided to stay in her home alone because the rescue workers would only take one dog. She would rather risk staying in a flooded house than to leave two of her pets to unknown perils.
The high school basketball and football teams gathered their players to help load trucks, move furniture, take out drywall and drive supplies to neighborhoods under water (very proud of my son and his friends).
Locals came together and bought over 100 pizzas and waded them into families in an area that had been cut off for days due to high waters.
People braved flooded streets (sometimes on jet skis) in flood-ravaged neighborhoods with rubber boots, gloves and determination to help complete strangers clear debris and salvage anything they could for the poor families that lost everything.
Families took in friends, kids and pets who lost power for days due to the many tornados related to Hurricane Harvey.
Local restaurants offered first responders (who have been working tirelessly for days) free meals.
Scores of people trekked to local stores to buy toiletries, diapers, water and basic necessities to donate to those that had to flee to shelters without taking anything with them.
The list goes on and there are tons of other good deeds all around us. It’s heart-warming to see people of all ages coming together to help in big ways and small.
And our telecom community has risen to the occasion in full force with AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon all offering discounts and free calling to customers in the impacted areas. And many have donated millions across various organizations such as Verizon donating $10m. Other major players in the massive relief efforts include Texans Defensive End, J.J. Watt. He started off his donation campaign with a modest goal of $200k. And to date, he has raised over $13m. The bar is now set even higher now with a goal of $15m.
There is no doubt that can be achieved. The outpouring of generosity and caring is truly amazing all around us. Texans have seen first hand the HUGE heart of the nation and the world.
Thank you for all of your prayers, positive thoughts and support to our communities. Truly blessed!
To offer your support, please donate to our Telecom Relief Fund crowdrise fundrasier. Together we can do more. To see more photos from Vanessa and her community, visit jsa.net. We will also be promoting all our friends and telecommers who help us with this fundraiser. Any and all dollars can help.