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There have been a lot of stories published since Hurricane Harvey dropped 52 inches of water in the City of Houston.  Closer to home, Northeast Houston’s spotlight has been shining thanks in part to news coverage by the Houston Chronicle, Houston Press, Buzzfeed News, and CNN Anderson Cooper 360. Most of the news has covered the flooded houses and schools, unemployment rates, immigration, poverty, and the shortage of food supplies associated with the floods. However, all those that have called this area home for years, including myself, know that these issues were worsened by the storm and were not a direct result of the storm. Underreported has been the city’s decision to designate only one shelter for an area population of over 100,000 within a three-mile radius and the fact that it took nearly four days for rescue pleas within this area to be answered by the Red Cross. The death toll within this community was minimal considering the lack of assistance from local, state, and national officials, likely due to an aggressive grassroots effort both on the ground and in social media. When news reports later surfaced that a family of six had drowned in a van near Green River Road, I could not help but to feel guilty for not being able to do more to assist this community in recovery efforts. Not only was I dealing with protecting my own family, but also with the possibility of being homeless as water levels rose around my home. The few times that I managed to leave my home during the storm, I used to check in on my neighbors and help some elderly move their cars to higher ground. I also took as many pictures as I could of Mesa road and the surrounding communities for historical purposes, since the news coverage was heavily focused on the communities near Brays Bayou, West Houston, and Kingwood.

In our community, the heart-breaking posts that were being shared on social media by grassroots leaders tell the story of desperation from our neighbors, families, and friends, which remind me of scenes from the movie Titanic when the wealthy first class were allowed to evacuate the ship before the underprivileged.

Please Help: My mom and brother are in need of help

Please send Immediate Help: My grandmother fell and hit her head at home she needs medical attention

PLEASE HELP TO MY MOTHER AND BROTHER.

Can someone please help this 90-year old male between Pardee and Lockwood

A disabled woman stranded in a van at Crestview. PLEASE HELP!!!! The water is rising on her.

Verde Forest Subdivision in need of help 15 seniors with water in homes at Valley Wind street Brock park is the street crosses Tidwell

Fewer in between were posts from people being rescued from their homes and vehicles.

GREAT NEWS THEY HAVE BEEN RESCUED: 4 ppl w/2 children an elderly woman

GREAT NEWS THEY HAVE BEEN RESCUED: There were several aged people and others at least 15 people in the Verde Forest Subdivision

GREAT NEWS!!! SHE HAS BEEN RESCUED: PLEASE HELP!!! Lady is in need of rescue at Mesa Drive…can anybody help her?

GREAT NEWS!!! Help is on the way. Can someone please help this 90-year old male between Pardee and Lockwood

In 2001 when my family and I made East Houston our permanent residence, the first thing I noticed was the rural feel of this community. One of the biggest draws for me was the open space and tall trees. On any given day I see horses, cattle, and chickens within the community. While many businesses have come and gone, the area continues to hold some traditions intact. For example, residents in East Houston hold an annual event within the community that coincides with Houston Live Stock Show and Rodeo’s yearly cook-off. Every August, the Houston Civic Club hosts a back-to-school event for students attending the surrounding schools. These are just examples of how the residents are the most important reason that East Houston is a special place. Hurricane Harvey and its effects show us that the reason this community will continue to exist and thrive is because of grassroots efforts. The people, regardless of their social and economic background, continue to be there for each other, even during times of crisis. This is rooted in this community’s ability to believe in hope that one day our fortune will change through economic and social development.

 

 

By: Juan Antonio Sorto MBA

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