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Indian-Americans provide relief materials post-Harvey

Tuesday, September 12, 2017
By Seema Hakhu Kachru

Houston: As residents of Texas began the process of restoring their homes damaged by Hurricane Harvey, Indian-Americans and their community organisations are also doing their bit by providing relief materials and working tirelessly to clean up the mess caused by the storm.

Nearly two weeks after Harvey made landfall in Texas, mounds of garbage, sheet-rock clusters, computer monitors and furniture still cover the sidewalks. The efforts of government agencies including the federal, state, county and city, police, coast guard, armed forces, Red Cross and others have been phenomenal in saving lives and providing for the needs of those who got trapped in the hurricane.

However, the amount of destruction and devastation caused by Harvey needs a herculean effort to speed up the reconstruction work in the flooded neighbourhoods.

"Over the past two weeks, volunteers have already put in 23,100 hours of work towards various relief and rehabilitation projects and we have raised over USD 300,000 and the target is 1 million," Gitesh Desai, president of Sewa in Houston, said.

"We plan to support rebuilding efforts of homes that need to be fixed through a public-private partnership with the US government agencies and many of the Indian-American entrepreneurs in Houston," he said.

As families start to move back into the houses, more than 800 volunteers of different Indian non-profit groups coordinated by Sewa International are helping people clean up the mess that catastrophic floods have left behind. Worst affected are the poor and less privileged communities.

One such community that Sewa International worked with was the Cambodian Buddhist community in Houston. Volunteers helped clean up more than 200 mobile homes and trailer homes belonging to the community members.

"Indo-American organisations have been leading fundraising efforts and are planning to contribute to Mayor's Hurricane Relief and Governor's Rebuild Texas funds in addition to contribution in kind exceeding USD 2 million already," Jiten Agarwal, an IIT alumnus and founder of data analytics firm Expedienton, said.

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