Tuesday, August 29, 2017

In Harvey's Wake, All Hands On Deck

Before anything else, to all our folks on the Texas Gulf Coast, you're in more prayers over these days than you know – hope you're hanging in there, and as things allow, please send word on how you're getting through and what things are looking like on your end.

For the rest of us, meanwhile, with the weekend storm now on record as the worst single rainfall ever to hit the continental US – 40 to 50 inches across four dioceses and tens of thousands of square miles – and making a second land-drop later tonight into Louisiana, it's time to do what the Church does best: reach out, and pitch in.

For a sense of the scope, early projections have pegged the eventual damage costs in the realm of $50-80 billion. And with rivers just now cresting and levees and dams still threatening to fail, both for families and institutions, the full shape of the recovery and rebuilding ahead simply can't begin to be broached. Right now, though, with Catholic entities on the ground already mobilizing to provide imminent aid, shelter and services – and which, outside of metro Houston, were already stretched to the limit in meeting the usual needs of rural, scattered populations – they're going to need a quick infusion of support to get this part of the job done.

While a national collection for the relief programs will be taken up over the next two weekends and administered by Catholic Charities USA, it'll be some time yet before those proceeds reach their destination. On another critical front, both the indefinite suspension of mail service and the impossibility of travel across much of the zone only add more complications to the scene.

Ergo, if you're looking to send a helping hand that'll have the most direct and immediate impact where it's most needed, your best bet is to donate straight to the diocese-based aid efforts in Corpus Christi, Victoria, Beaumont or Galveston-Houston – as everything from cots, blankets and towels to diapers, walkers, bottled water and more needs to be amassed and put to use in rapid order, your goodness will help get it done by the folks who know their turf and people best.

Yet even for a best-case scenario that has the locals stranded and boiling water for some time to come, the relatively few ops who haven't lost power (or have been lucky enough to charge up in non-submerged cars) have all been asking for one thing most: prayers. Given the historic role of New Orleans' Our Lady of Prompt Succour as Protectress of the American South, seeking her intercession has pride of place over these days... but whoever one might choose to beam yours to, let's just do it well and often.

Again, to everyone facing the storm and the road ahead, we're pulling for you – stay safe, and touch base as you can, especially if there's anything y'all can use from the rest of us.