Tag Archives: Hurricane Harvey

Staples Music Department Plays For Hurricane Relief

Last month, Hurricane Harvey roared through Texas. In addition to many damaged homes and businesses, countless small reminders of the storm’s devastation remain.

For example, school districts lost music libraries. Some had been meticulously grown, for decades.

Help is on the way.

Luck’s Music Library has pledged to match every dollar donated to a special fund.

The Staples Music Department quickly joined in. The goal is to raise $10,00o here. Thanks to Luck’s, that would mean $20,000 worth of music for Texas.

How will Westport do it? Let’s count the ways.

On Wednesday, October 18 (7:30 p.m., Saugatuck Elementary School) the Staples Strings Concert kicks off the drive, with a pass-the-hat collection.

Lauren Schmidt, Jessica Xu and Scott Adler rehearse for the upcoming Strings Concert.

At halftime of the Friday, October 27 home football game, the Jazz Ensemble will appear on the big scoreboard. That’s followed by video of a Houston high school. Tri-M music honor society members will then collect funds in the stands.

A “Chamber-a-thon” is set for Friday, November 3. From 3:30 p.m. on, musical groups play for 20 minutes each. They’ll ask Westporters to sponsor their segments, and a case will be open for other donations. The music department is searching for a high visibility location like Barnes & Noble for this event.

After Thanksgiving, there’s a Radio-a-thon with recorded Staples music and pledges.

Funds will also be collected every concert in town from now through Candlelight. A board sign near the tennis courts will show progress.

Meanwhile, all donations are welcome. Checks can made out to “SHS Music” and sent to: Staples High School Music Department, 70 North Avenue, Westport, CT 06880. Please write “Hurricane Harvey relief” on the memo line.

Logo by Tomaso Scotti, a Staples student in Carla Eichler’s graphic design class.

Humane Response To Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey brought incredible human suffering — and heroism — to Houston.

But there were plenty of stories — awful, and inspiring — about animals too.

Earlier this month, 2 teams of Connecticut Humane Society employees traveled to Texas, for 10 days each. The groups relieved their Texas shelter colleagues, who had worked nonstop on relief efforts.

The CHS group administered medical treatment, tested dogs for heartworm, fed, cleaned and distributed pet food, at several sites.

A Connecticut Humane Society team in Houston.

Meanwhile, after a long journey, 22 dogs from areas affected by Harvey arrived at CHS. They’d already been in shelters, looking for new families, before the hurricane hit.

Bringing them to Connecticut gives Texas shelters room to house pets waiting to reunite with families.

The pups here are being spayed, neutered and treated for any medical conditions before being placed up for adoption.

All of this takes money. So on Sunday, October 1 (12 to 3 p.m.), Southport Veterinary Center is hosting a fundraiser.

It’s at the Ned Dimes Marina — coincidentally, on the first day that dogs are allowed back on the beach.

A Houston dog, waiting for adoption ohere.

The event is a “sit-in.” Southport Veterinary will contribute $5 to the Connecticut Humane Society for each dog that can sit on command for 2 minutes — and $1 per minute after that.

It’s first-come, first-served. Dogs can be bribed — er, rewarded — if necessary. But they must obey the command on their own free will.

Dog (and people) treats are available for contributions. Microchips can be checked too, at no charge.

The “sit-in” is a clever concept. Of course, after sitting for a few minutes, all those dogs have a big, wide beach to romp on.

And it’s theirs through March 31.

(For more information — and to contribute, if you can’t be there — click here.)

 

Truckin’: From Westport To Houston In 3 (Not So) Easy Days

Last Saturday, dozens of people headed to the Imperial Avenue parking lot. They dropped off piles of goods, for victims of Hurricane Harvey. Soon, a 30-foot truck loaded with donations headed south.

Adam Goldberg — the Westporter who masterminded the effort — sends this report:

After a successful packing job, with many residents moving and lifting boxes, the Aquafence truck went on its way.

But just an hour in — by Elizabeth, New Jersey — the driver noticed something was not right. After a diagnostic test, he discovered the truck was 100% overweight.

Scrambling for a solution, we found an article about the Elizabeth Fire Department doing a donation drive for Harvey victims. To their surprise, our truck pulled up with donations for their truck.

We gave them 1/3 of our stuff — mostly used clothing and some heavier gear. We knew it would eventually make it to Texas, so we felt good.

The New Jersey transfer: from the Westport Aquafence truck, to the Elizabeth one.

There was more to come. The truck had 2 flat tires on the way, but arrived safely in Houston Tuesday morning — only 1 day behind schedule.

Our first assigned location was the Kingwood relief center. The neighborhood was hit hard, and many people lost everything. We unloaded half our items there, focusing on what they needed most.

We then headed to our 2nd drop site. The Church Without Walls was a much larger facility, serving much of western Houston.

As with Kingwood, while we were not the only truck delivering supplies that day, they were thrilled to see us. They offered us a meal, a hug and a huge thank you.

Adding to the donations in Houston.

It was now 3 p.m. We had been delivering goods since 8 a.m., but we had one more task ahead of us that day.

Our next mission was to provide a delicious hot meal for those in need. We had been lined up to cook for the Southeast Houston relief center on Wednesday for 200 people. But local authorities asked us to cook instead for a funeral honoring a police sergeant and first responder who died in the storm.

With the support of our intended cooking spot to switch our venue, it was now up to another Westporter, Jason Epstein, who had flown down to help prepare food for 500 or more people.

We also needed to buy the grills and cooking supplies, which were to be donated after the cook. With the help of some amazing locals who joined us, we pulled it all off.

We made beef, chicken and shrimp tacos. But the biggest hit was the kale Caesar salad.

Grilling in Houston, Westport-style: Jason Epstein (left) and Adam Goldberg.

The cash donations we’d collected, from a Westport lemonade stand and others, went to an amazing cause. Three large grills, along with 2 generators, were delivered to the Southeast Houston Relief Mission. They still lack electricity, but now they can serve hot meals every day.

When our 2 days were over, we delivered our vehicle to the Houston FEMA office. They gave us a fascinating tour of central command — and were even kind enough to drive us to the airport.

We’re back now. But we will never forget this amazing experience helping others.

FEMA’s Houston headquarters.

 

Here’s How To Help

It’s a beautiful weekend in Westport. We’ve got the Slice of Saugatuck and Westport Country Playhouse gala to look forward to — along with the usual beach and sports activities, plus everything else under the sun.

Elsewhere in the hemisphere, people are hurting.

“Give a Little Love” with these chocolates — and help hurricane victims.

Here are a few ways Westporters can aid victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. If you know other ways to help — including those affected by the Mexican earthquake — click “Comments” below.

Aarti Khosla, owner of Le Rouge — the artisan chocolate shop at 190 Main Street — is donating 50% of the proceeds from her ongoing “Give a Little Love” handmade hearts campaign to OneAmericaAppeal.

That’s the effort by all 5 living former ex-presidents — Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter — to provide aid to Houston.

Dolores Catania

On Sunday, September 17 (5 to 7 p.m., Terrain Garden Cafe, 561 Post Road East), Dolores Catania from “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” and Angela Pantalone, owner of the Wag Central indoor dog facility, will talk about how they took life challenges and made their own empires.

The event raises money for Harvey and Irma victims. Click here for ticket information.

PS: Le Rouge also has 40 “Hate Has No Home” here yard signs. Pick yours up now!

Hurricane Harvey: Updated Most-Needed List

“06880” readers have reacted quickly to Adam Goldberg’s request for Hurricane Harvey help.

The Westporter is organizing a truckload of relief efforts for victims. He’s also donating the 30-foot truck itself, once it arrives in Texas.

Workers in Houston say that right now, the most needed items are:

  • Backpacks filled with school supplies
  • Toiletries (soap, toothpaste, shampoo, etc.)
  • New underwear and socks (for all ages)
  • Non-perishable foods
  • Cleaning supplies and scrub brushes.

People who have already told Goldberg (adam.goldberg@aquafence.com) that they’ll bring clothing to the collection point (Imperial Avenue parking lot this Saturday, September 9, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.) should still do so.

But, Goldberg says, the items above are desperately needed too.

He’s gratified by the response so far.

Including the lemonade stand he saw last weekend. Children used his flyer to solicit donations.

He has no idea who they were. But — like Goldberg, and many other Westporters — they were doing whatever they can to help.

Fill A Truck For Harvey

Adam Goldberg is a longtime Westporter. His company, Aquafence, provides state of-the-art removable flood barriers that work great in emergencies, but are kept out of sight the rest of the time.

His product was not available in Texas when Hurricane Harvey roared through. But that doesn’t mean he can’t help.

Goldberg is sending a 30-foot truck to Houston. He hopes it will be filled to the brim with supplies — donated by area residents.

He’s looking for:

  • Non-perishable food items
  • Snack bars, granola and fruit bars
  • Cleaning materials and detergents
  • Diapers and formula
  • Clean blankets and pillows
  • Soap, shampoo, deodorant and bug spray
  • School supplies
  • Toys
  • Pet food
  • Clean, sorted and folded clothes
  • Paper products.

Donations should be brought in boxes and bags, labeled with what’s inside. They can be brought to the Imperial Avenue parking lot this Saturday (September 9, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.).

Please email Goldberg (adam.goldberg@aquafence.com) beforehand, with a list of goods being donated or any questions.

PS: Goldberg’s generosity extends far beyond collecting and delivering much-needed goods. After driving the truck to Houston, he’ll donate it to a relief organization there — for keeps.

He’ll fly home. And no doubt start organizing his next project.

Westporters are doing what they can to help Hurricane Harvey victims. Yesterday, Sammi and Spencer Henske went shopping for supplies.

Mary Lou Cookman Schmerker Is Safe: Report From Houston

Mary Lou Cookman Schmerker is an alert and avid “06880” reader. Her insights in the “Comments” section are always positive, reflective and on target.

Mary Lou is also a Houston resident. Fellow “06880” reader John Suggs contacted her during Hurricane Harvey — on behalf of our entire online community — to make sure she was safe.

She was. And — despite all that’s going on during this cataclysmic event — she found time to send this report:

Since 06880 is “Where Westport Meets the World,” it was suggested that as a Westport native who was transplanted years ago to Houston it might be interesting to provide a first-person account of the storm.

If I were to post pictures of my surroundings right now, everyone would ask, “What’s the big deal?”

A stroke of pure luck puts us in an area 79 feet above sea level. A little more than a quarter of a football field saved us from devastating floodwaters.

Friday night Hurricane Harvey came ashore in Rockport, and devastated that area with Category 4 winds, tidal surge and massive rainfall. The counter- clockwise winds placed the Houston area on the “dirty side” of the storm. Even Friday night, areas of Houston began to experience flooding.

Rescue boats fill a flooded street. (Photo/David J. Phillip)

The major danger Friday night came from numerous tornado warnings. We did not sleep much, but we were secure in our own beds.

All day Saturday the storm crawled at 1 mile an hour across the region. It dumped massive amounts of rain, but thankfully winds were not severe.

Saturday night we turned the phones off and slept as best we could.

Sunday the rain continued with small breaks.

Monday the rain continued with some breaks. Finally on Tuesday the storm moved back out to the Gulf of Mexico a little bit. We began to experience longer dry periods.

On Wednesday we woke up to sunshine. Because of our 79 feet, all we have to remind us right here are wind gusts.

But that is not the story. We are somewhat isolated here because of the possibility of flooding from the Brazos River. It is not expected to crest until Saturday. (By the time this is posted, that may be revised downward.)

The Gulf coast of Texas is flat. All water from streams, rivers, ponds, bayous, gullies, retention ponds,  sloughs, street drains and reservoir overflows eventually make its way to the Gulf (in our area Galveston Bay).

Houston is the country’s 4th largest city. With the surrounding metropolitan area 7 million plus people are impacted by this storm, which is now on the march east and north to impact more area and people. The actual number will be staggering.

The suffering from Hurricane Harvey is heart-wrenching.

Along with the tragic stories and situations there are heartwarming stories of people helping people. The New York Times has covered, with a video , the generosity of Jim McIngvale. “Mattress Mack” started out selling mattresses from a small facility, and now owns 2 large upscale furniture stores. He has opened those both as Red Cross shelters, and is not concerned about the loss of business.

Buc-ee’s, a gas station and convenience store chain, told a convoy of National Guardsmen that they could have anything in the store free of charge. Along with snacks and soda Buc-ee’s carries high-end food, nice casual clothes and gift items. Anything the men and women in uniform wanted they could have, free of charge.

At first there were so many volunteers they dubbed them “second responders.” Now they are called the Concerned Citizen Corps.

Convoys of trucks pulling boats of all descriptions have come from Louisiana. They are being referred to as the Cajun Navy.

A rancher drove in pulling a tanker with 800 gallons of gas that he donated, so boats with outboard motors could refuel free of charge.

The stories of individual heroics are uplifting — and countless.

Before I share my favorite story, I want to say that what is happening here in Texas is restoring my faith in the caring capacity of our fellow men and women. So far I haven’t heard any political accusations or racial slurs. People reach out and help regardless of race, creed, nationality or political persuasion.

There are thousands upon thousands in shelters, sleeping and eating in close quarters. Men, women and children of all ages are represented. We have a very large, diverse population in this area, and pictures show that diversity. We see women with Muslim head coverings next to women in African dress next to those from India in saris.

My favorite story so far is of a group of Hispanic men. They arrived Monday night in yellow trucks so large that people needed extension ladders to climb out. They made trip after trip picking up people long after dark, bringing them to a gas station.

The men looked for cell phone lights to show them where people were, and listened for cries of help. In and out they went for hours, not caring that they were exhausted and soaking wet themselves. They just kept on their mission.

From dry ground, people were loaded into panel trucks and taken first to a Walmart, then finally into buses to a shelter. These men were tireless in their desire to help any and every one.

This has gotten quite long. I’ll send another report about why we have so much flooding here. I think there is an important correlation to make for Westport.

With gratitude for all the help being sent to this area, and the examples of neighbor helping neighbor across all lines,

Mary Lou Cookman Schmerker
Staples High School Class of 1958

Suited’s Sale Helps Houston

For 3 years, Ryan Meserole’s Suited.co custom shop across from the train station has dressed men well — and given back to Fairfield County.

Now it’s time to help Texas.

In 2012 Ryan’s aunt Rosemary Duffy lost her Brooklyn home — and everything else — Hurricane Sandy.

She moved to Houston. Now she’s going through it all again.

The timing could not be worse. Less than a month ago, Rosemary lost her brother-in-law — firefighter Michael Duffy — to cancer linked to 9/11.

Despite it all, she was most concerned for others, Ryan reports.

“I’m still a Brooklyn boy at heart,” he says. “I was fortunate to move here later in life. Despite what people say about New Yorkers, we love to help.”

So here’s his offer: Anyone who donates $100 or more to Red Cross Harvey relief will receive a 50% discount at Suited. It’s good for any fabric and shirt.

In other words: You can snag a custom suit for as little as $650 this weekend.

Ryan will even set up a laptop in his store, for easy access to the Red Cross website.

If you’ve already donated to the Red Cross for Hurricane Harvey, just bring in your confirmation. You’ll still get his discount.

Suited.co is at 44 Railroad Place. For more information, click here.

 

BBQ Competition Helps Hurricane Harvey

Houston is known as a BBQ town.

Westport usually isn’t — except on Labor Day weekend, when for 10 years the Blues, Views and BBQ Festival has drawn thousands of visitors.

One of the biggest attractions is the “Cooking for a Cause” competition.

This year, the “cause” is particularly important.

Festival organizers — including the Downtown Merchants Association — just announced they’ll donate proceeds from the contest to victims of Hurricane Harvey.

Westport’s Emergency Medical Services staff participated in the 2013 competition.

“We are deeply saddened that a beloved member of our BBQ community is suffering so greatly,” officials say. “We feel it is our responsibility to send support to this ravaged area.”

In previous year, proceeds were donated to the Westport Woman’s Club food pantry. Blues, Views and BBQ will continue to support that worthy cause, with funds from other areas.

Spots remain open for more BBQ competitors — which of course means more help for Houston. The event is set for this Saturday (September 2). For more information — and to register — click here.