Over the past three weeks, two hurricanes of unprecedented force and destructive power have devastated southern Texas and Florida. While rescue and recovery efforts have now begun, the two states face years of rebuilding following the damage caused by the hurricanes.
There are many ways to help the people affected by these natural disasters. To ensure that the Eastern campus community has the most impact in contributing to the recovery efforts, a small ad hoc group of faculty, staff, and students is working to coordinate a planned response.
Given the urgent nature of some of the services and support needed in Texas and Florida, we want to provide the campus with some short-term options for offering support to those with immediate needs. At the same time, with the reality that clean up and recovery efforts will take years, we also want to develop opportunities to provide long-term, ongoing support. Even though raising and donating funds to the recovery is certainly a valid strategy, we also believe that service opportunities for students, faculty and staff to volunteer their time over the long term may be the most enduring way we can support the people of south Texas and Florida.
At the moment, we are reviewing the needs of communities in Texas and Florida and learning about the various organizations that are working in those local areas to provide services. The needs are overwhelming and the number of options to support those in need are also numerous. As we research the best avenues to pursue, three immediate areas of attention are evident: supporting educational institutions (“Adopt a School”); assisting in some way to rebuild homes lost in the hurricanes; and rescuing stray pets by partnering with animal shelters and other organizations.
We realize there are many other ways we can assist, and we are researching those as well. In the meantime, we are asking members of our campus community to do the following:
- If you have ideas on how Eastern can assist in supporting hurricane survivors in south Texas and Florida, please send them to Kim Silcox, Director of the Center for Community Engagement.
- If your student club, residence hall, department, office or other organization on campus is already considering some type of relief effort, please let Kim know so that we can support your plans or otherwise coordinate with you.
- If you know of any relief organizations that we should be aware of, please let Kim know.
If you have any other contacts in the affected areas that could assist us in maximizing the contributions that our University can make, again please let Kim know. She will share all your information with our Ad Hoc team as we develop and communicate our plans. In the next few days, we will also be posting a webpage so that the campus community can stay informed of hurricane relief efforts while also providing a two-way conduit for information sharing.
Eastern has rallied in many other times to support those in need — following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, after the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, and other times during our history. It is time again to lend a hand. With your assistance, we can fully join in the international efforts to respond to the devastation in Texas and Florida. Thank you for being a valued member of the Eastern community!