Hurricane Harvey’s destruction of Houston last week prompted aid and support from across the nation, including from the University of Maryland community. Several students and faculty have organized efforts to help Houston in the natural disaster’s aftermath.
Kisha Logan, a Houston native and manager of the Do Good Institute in the public policy school, decided to help her hometown by creating a Facebook page, “DMV cares,” to organize a supply drive throughout Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
“On Facebook, I [saw] my friends that are suffering from all of the Hurricane Harvey devastation, and I [said] ‘I really want to do something.’ I came up with the idea with one of my friends that we’re going to take stuff from here, we’re going to collect donations and we’re going to take it down to Houston ourselves,” Logan said.
Drop-off locations are in Bowie, Laurel, Waldorf, Fort Washington, Alexandria and D.C. Items will be collected through Saturday. Logan will then deliver the items to Houston.
Korey Rothman, a CIVICUS professor, expanded Kisha’s efforts onto the campus with her two Introduction to CIVICUS classes, saying that the drive seemed like a “perfect match” for her classes.
“We sort of stopped our schedule when we found out Kisha was doing this work, and we felt we can really help,” Rothman said. “We thought, ‘Students have limited resources, they have limited money, so what are some things that they can do and galvanize their friends and their networks to do?'”
Each class organized their own fundraiser. One hosted a soap and feminine products drive Thursday at Stamp Student Union and South Campus Commons, while the other created a GoFundMe page to raise money to purchase $25 gift cards so victims can buy necessary supplies. As of Thursday, the fundraising page had raised $560 of its $1200 goal and will be accepting donations through Monday.
Sophomore civil engineering major Maya Kelly also created a fundraiser through Facebook to raise money for the Houston Food Bank. She initially set a $150 goal but has surpassed it . She created the fundraiser for her birthday with the rationale, “I just feel I shouldn’t get more when people are losing everything that they do have,” she said. “I just find that the best gift that I can get is basically just making the world a better place,” Kelly added.
Following the hurricane, media outlets reached out to engineers Sandra Knight and Gerald Galloway at the engineering school to provide their expertise on flooding. Knight, a senior research engineer, and Galloway, a research professor, are both part of the civil and environmental engineering department’s Center for Disaster Resilience.
Knight, the former deputy associate administrator for mitigation at FEMA, offered news outlets insight on the flood insurance policy, while Galloway discussed the reservoir system and infrastructure of Houston that has slowed down the runoff.
Both stressed the importance of not underestimating the effects natural disasters can have on urban areas like Houston.
“We really are underestimating these disasters,” Knight said. “We need to be thinking about the future, about the impossible … and really consider the impacts of our development.”
In collaboration with Texas A&M, Galloway is leading research on urban flooding, focusing on inner cities and other areas that are not expected to flood. He hopes this research will help expand the public’s understanding of which cities are at risk for flooding.
Galloway added that homeowners need to understand the dangers that come with purchasing a home in a disaster-prone area.
“If you’re living near the shoreline, [understand] how often you are expected to see a hurricane and really find out what that means,” Galloway said. “If we can help risk communication and if the media can get the message out that a lot of this is preventable and avoidable, then perhaps, in the future, the losses will not be so great.”