When disaster strikes any corner of our nation, it’s all hands on deck.
Close to the catastrophe, as we see in Houston right now, neighbors are helping neighbors. Emergency responders are working around the clock. Citizens are taking out personal watercraft and rescuing people from flooded homes. Even loathed journalists — those so-called enemies of the people singled out by the president — are putting down cameras and notebooks and helping save lives.
From Santa Fe, we want to help as well. Cash is always welcome, because it will help help rescue operations and charities buy needed clothing, food, water and other necessary supplies. Local groups are stepping up to help, too, so it’s possible to donate here and watch your gift work to relieve conditions there.
The Food Depot will be gathering both supplies and cash, working with Feeding America and Feeding Texas. Food banks in Texas need snack items such as granola bars, ready-to-eat foods, staples such as peanut butter, tuna or soup, bottled water, and cleaning supplies, including paper towels, bleach and soap. Personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs and the like also are welcome. To give money, go to www.thefooddepot.org or mail your donation to The Food Depot, 1222 A Siler Road, Santa Fe, NM 87507 (That’s where supplies can be left, too.) Mark the donation as a contribution to Texas flood relief.
At United Church of Santa Fe, there will be work to create hygiene kits for flood victims as well as collect cash. This Sunday, parishioners will assemble the kits. Items needed are hand towels measuring 16 inches by 28inches, washcloths, wide-tooth combs, nail clippers, bath-size bars of soap, toothbrushes in original packaging and standard-size Band-Aids. Supplies or checks can be sent to The United Church of Santa Fe, 1804 Arroyo Chamiso Road, Santa Fe, NM 87505, or donate online at unitedchurchofsantafe.org. Mark “hurricane relief” on your donations.
The hygiene kits will be sent to Church World Service, an international relief and development agency familiar with South Texas — workers have been on the ground there for 70 years. The group has little overhead, according to senior minister Rev. Talitha Arnold, because it relies on volunteers and faith communities to do its work. One hundred percent of money collected also will go directly to emergency relief and longer-term rebuilding of the area.
After Hurricane Katrina 12 years ago, the United Church raised more than $20,000 and assembled 200-plus hygiene kits for flood assistance. Every little bit helps.
What also helps is knowing that aid is going directly to the people who need it, not being spent on paying excessive salaries or diverted from its intended destination. Scam artists flock to disasters, sadly.
For people who want to donate directly to charities in areas impacted by the flood, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has established a Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund at The Greater Houston Community Foundation. (To donate, visit www.ghcf.org.) The Central Texas Food Bank is accepting donations, too (www.centraltexasfoodbank.org). There’s also a gofundme page (www.gofundme.com/hurricaneharvey) that has collected different drives for hurricane relief, including for animals and specific locations. Remember places such as Rockport, Texas, a small town devastated by the storm. . Wherever you choose to donate, visit Charity Navigator and investigate the group.
Making donations will be just a start, as the recovery ahead promises to be long and hard. Residents of Houston and other parts of South Texas will be suffering from the impact of Harvey for years to come. The rest of the nation needs to be right there with them, prepared to offer aid and comfort both now and in the future.
For New Mexicans, this is personal. Texans have been visiting and sharing their dollars through tourism and buying second or retirement homes for decades. Now, we can share with them.
A droughtless state
Last week, for the first time since 1999, the state of New Mexico was considered drought-free.
What a milestone, however temporary.
According to the National Weather Service, the state’s drought map showed no extremely dry or drought-covered areas. It’s all because of a wet monsoon, coupled with cooler temperatures. Instead of grasses, farm lands or forests turning brown and dry, our lands — right now, anyway — are fire-resistant. No wonder Santa Fe has been plagued by weeds. Growing conditions are perfect.
And compared to last year, when 87 percent of New Mexico showed the state to be abnormally dry, with 27 percent in moderate drought and 1.1 percent in severe drought, the state is nearly in optimum shape. Of course, the rainy season could dry up before it comes to a close at the end of September.
Right now, though, conditions are better than we have seen in years. A new map will be issued this week, and let’s hope the combination of rain and cooler temperatures continues. The state remains in a long-term dry period. Water levels are low at reservoirs around the state; this drought-free moment is likely temporary.
Still, discovering that New Mexico is without drought — however brief the moment — is something to celebrate.