Thursday, August 31, 2017

Texas Flood Disaster

A year's worth of rain in three days!  So often warnings of potential crises turn out to be false alarms.  This one wasn't.  In fact the warnings probably understated the disaster to come.  In addition to news on TV and radio, I am receiving two other types of reports: a. statements from Jewish sources on how the Jewish community, Federations, synagogues and agencies are faring and how they are contributing to the general welfare and b. reports through the Oregon Food Bank concerning the food banks throughout the affected area.  Some were flooded themselves and totally out of commission, opening as soon as possible to supply the enormous needs of an entire swath of the country shut down; the need to feed tens of thousands of people in shelters, even pet food.  Babies needing formula and many on restricted diets.  The national food bank community through Feeding America stands ready to help however possible.  I have put myself on a list of people prepared to travel to the storm area to help if and when called upon.

Neveh Shalom has opened a channel to directly support one of the smaller synagogues in Houston.  The Jewish Federation of Portland created a vehicle for direct donations and the MJCC joined a national Jewish Community Center effort to transfer money vouchers to mainline stores providing for general needs.  This will be a long haul.  Texas will be recuperating for months if not years.

A year after Katrina I traveled to Biloxi in an effort by Conservative synagogues to help.  We drove along the coast and seemingly for miles I saw slab after slab upon which a house once stood.  And what did I do for three days?  I removed sheet rock that volunteers had placed on homes after Katrina that had to be removed because in their haste they never bothered to remove the residue of mold!  Yes, I was removing what others in their good intentions had put up to save a house that no one could live in.

But not everyone understands the urgency and immediacy of the need.  I found today's New York Times editorial about the reactions of Rev. Osteen who only reluctantly opened his 16,000-seat mega church to flood victims and that of President Trump.troubling indeed. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/30/opinion/trump-osteen-harvey-church.html?ref=opinion. 

When human beings are in desperate straights, it is incumbent upon us all to reach out to do whatever we can.

And at the same time that our attention is focused on Texas, we must be aware of similar if not even more severe flooding in Mumbai, India.  There tens of thousands of innocents are suffering too from the monsoon rains more severe this year than ever before.

And then of course we must address the serious issue of climate change that if not addressed immediately will only bring ever greater calamities.



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