Like many of my family and friends, I’ve been personally moved by the devastation our country has seen in the last few weeks from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Like me, you’ve probably seen the images from Houston, Miami, and Jacksonville of cars submerged in several feet of water and the video of first responders rescuing drivers before the vehicles they were trapped in were carried away by the water.
The obstacles faced by people in the Houston area and in Florida boggle my mind:
- According to the Houston Chronicle, almost a third of Harris County, including Houston, was underwater from the storm, with about 30,000 people evacuated. In Florida alone, just one of 9 states that were hit by Irma, 6.3 million people were told to evacuate. That’s an enormous number of families who had to abandon their homes and everything they owned, not knowing what they’d finally come back to.
- The Washington Post reported that flooding can not only drown victims but also promote infectious disease, knock out power and therefore air conditioning, limit access to medication, trigger mental health problems and create mold. Many of us probably already know about the eight elderly people who lost their lives in Hollywood, Florida, due to heat after the loss of power.
- In parts of Florida, Irma destroyed one of every four homes. Some of the smaller islands in Irma’s path suffered even more than that. Can you imagine? I look at my neighbors across the street and on either side of my house and can’t fathom that at least one of them would be blown to the ground were we in Irma’s path.
- The estimates of what it will cost to fix everything damaged by the storms are too big for me to comprehend. Texas governor Greg Abbott’s estimate for Harvey is between $150 and $180 billion. An analyst at Panmure Gordan estimated up to $300 billion from the damage done by Irma to homes and businesses.
In the photo above, MATS.org customers in Houston received not only their vehicles but also supplies they needed but couldn’t get nearby.
When these kind of natural disasters happen, I wonder what I can do to help from several states away. Recently, I was blessed to be able to help people in need through MATS.org by sending a vehicle with workers and supplies down to affected areas. Some items, such as mold spray, fans and respirators, are in high supply in the Houston area and are just not possible to get for miles around those who are now trying to pick up the pieces.
Several organizations, including FEMA, stress that donating money is the best way to help them help the people affected by the hurricanes. The agency suggests that we as individuals can:
- Donate money to reputable organizations such as the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Save the Children, the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, and Catholic Charities USA.
- Foster an animal through the SPCA of Texas or Austin Pets Alive!
- Send diapers to Texas Diaper Bank.
- Donate Rapid Rewards points through Southwest Airlines to organizations with trained volunteers, such as the American Red Cross, Team Rubicon, and the All Hands Volunteers.
- Create relief kits as directed by UMCOR and send to relief-supply depots.
- If you’re able to travel to the affected areas and donate your time and manual labor, connect with area organizations before you go. They’ll know where to send you and how to train you properly.
Being in the auto industry, I’m reminded by the devastation from the hurricanes how thankful I am for customers who have supported MATS.org through the years. The situation millions of my fellow citizens now find themselves in also reminds me what I take for granted when I jump in my car and head to work in the morning, without a thought.
Friends in Texas and Florida are facing a lot of challenges, and I want to do what I can through the company I’ve been blessed to represent to make finding a new vehicle easier for them. I am incredibly sensitive to the perspective that reaching out to people who have lost so much to the hurricanes with an offer from my business may seem more like I am promoting MATS.org than helping others. You might not realize it, but even walking onto a lot and driving away in a vehicle won’t be so easy for Texans or Floridians.
At MATS.org we do our best to create an easy car buying experience for people all across this great country of ours. We believe in this time of need our service may be relevant to more people who need a car than ever before. That’s why we’re waiving delivery fees to the Houston area and to Florida for those that have lost vehicles due to the hurricanes and subsequent flooding.
If you have friends or family in either of the affected areas, please have them give us a call at MATS.org so we can help them get over this first of many obstacles as they get back to a sense of normalcy.
Blessings in Christ,