With the passing of the 2nd Anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, we reflect on where we’ve been and the people we’ve met along the way. What stands out are the memories that remind us of why we do this work, those memories that make us all the more determined to continue…
We met Vlasta in Houston after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Her husband, a collector of old war memorabilia, had passed a few years before, and her daughter, who was living with her due to poor health, was in the hospital. Vlasta’s home was in bad condition and in need of a full gut down to the studs. Most everything inside had to go, including items of her husband’s that she hadn’t been able to bring herself to let go of.
As we pulled out the worst of the damage, the walls and floors, we also made a pile of items by the front door for Vlasta to go through. It was slow going, but she needed a moment to look through her ruined belongings, and his, one last time before she could add them to the growing pile on the curb.
Half of the job we do is the physical labor. It’s the action we take in response to a natural disaster. The other part, the driving force, the why of what we do – is in the human connection. So as volunteers removed Vlasta’s waterlogged possessions from her home, others sat with her through the day in the simple act of presence. Sometimes it’s just about being with one another and providing the comfort of acknowledged pain.
This is the core of what we do. We strive to hearten those who’ve suffered the sudden loss of home, and bring comfort and support along the road towards recovery. These are the moments we think of when asked who we are. This is NECHAMA.
With up to 14 more storms predicted still to come this year by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, your support means we can be there for people like Vlasta.