As severe weather swept across the Gulf Coast on Oct. 30, hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed. Several days later, after more than 16 inches of rain in the Austin area alone, the death toll from Texas flooding rose to six. As of Oct. 31, three bodies were recovered in the Austin area, and over 7,000 people in Austin were affected by the disaster.
In light of Austin Mayor Steve Adler declaring a local state of disaster Thursday, Austin Disaster Relief Network has initiated flood relief services to help those affected by the flooding.
Volunteer opportunities, donation drives and financial contributions can be made through various organizations throughout the city. The Volunteer Reception Center, which opened Sunday, has launched a coordinated volunteer effort which includes debris removal and other activities. Located at Crossroads Christian House of Prayer, the Volunteer Reception Center will serve as a central location for interested volunteers to sign up and get involved.
“This is one of the worst disasters in the history of this city,” Daniel Geraci, executive director of the Austin Disaster Relief Network, said. “We want to be able to offer everyone the emotional and spiritual help that they need in order to pull them out of this trauma.”
The Austin Disaster Relief Network is a nonprofit that has partnered with more than 150 churches to provide services to families in need. Hope Family Thrift Store, which the network opened in March, is currently accepting donations for victims of the flooding. Requested items include pillows, blankets, socks and undergarments.
“We feel very strongly that we are called to care for people in distress, meeting their physical, emotional and spiritual needs,” general manager Rita Davis said. “For many of them, the items we give them tie them over until they get back to a sense of normality.”
The Austin Disaster Relief Network, United Way, The Salvation Army, The Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the American Red Cross Disaster Relief are all accepting monetary donations in the wake of the flooding.
“That Friday, the rain went from calm to terrifying in a matter of minutes,” chemistry freshman Jakeb White said. “After seeing how quickly nature can turn, I can understand how people’s lives could literally be ripped away by such a sheer amount of water. It’s awful, but it’s comforting to know that these programs are helping out.”