Hope Returns for Families in Texas
Updates | November 21, 2015 by Southern Region
Austin Onion Creek / Houston Flood Distributions
Extreme weather has been taking its toll on families across the U.S. in 2015, and many in Texas had to cope with flooding and tornados in October and November. Tzu Chi USA volunteers travelled to Austin and Houston to bring aid to people impacted by these disasters, creating loving connections in the process.
Here are some of their stories …
Kimberly Leona’s husband is disabled, and they moved with their six kids from Colorado to Texas to avoid snowstorms: The last thing they expected was to be victim to a flood! Kimberly recounted her panic, how in just ten minutes the water rose from the basement to fill the first floor. The family was staying in the Disaster Accommodation Center by then, but Kimberly was concerned because the weather was getting cold. A volunteer immediately offered several blankets, also explaining their recycling source. Kimberly smiled with understanding … she’s an environmentalist too
Ashley Orzco accompanied her mother, Angelina - who doesn’t speak English - when they received a Cash Card to help the family, which includes six kids. Ashley – age nine - acted as interpreter, but also translated a letter of sympathy from Master Cheng Yen, and the story of the Bamboo Bank. Angelina made sure Ashley translated her heartfelt response: "My mom is joyful and relieved, because God sent angels to help us. We hope everybody is safe and love is spread to everyone."
When Mike Thomas - whose house was flooded and is now ridden with mould - learned that Tzu Chi was offering $300 in emergency relief, he was thrilled. His 19-year old daughter is disabled: She’s safe now, but also can’t help with the cleanup. This direct relief - which will help repair the home he prays to return to as soon as possible - was so appreciated that he bowed to volunteers to express his gratitude.
Rosalinda Reyna was leaving the Disaster Relief Center disappointed. She’d been told by some agencies that she’d have to wait till later in the afternoon to request assistance, but a Tzu Chi volunteer turned that around. Rosalinda was very moved by the fact that she was helped right away: "The love and blessings I received today are way more than the value of the emergency relief funds.”
The love and care shown by Tzu Chi’s volunteers touched many …
Joshua Hernandez was distraught when he arrived at the Disaster Relief Center just as everyone was packing up at the end of the day. His family wasn’t on the list provided by the Red Cross, but Tzu Chi didn’t turn him away. Volunteers learned that on the day of the flood, Joshua and his two brothers got a call saying that water was filling their house, and their father might not escape. The brothers rushed home but torrents of water overturned their car and the eldest of the three was swept away. Tragically, he perished. This family of 14 was now living in a hotel, and tomorrow noon was check out time. Volunteers provided $1,000 in instant aid to help the family survive this crisis.
Rachel Martinez brought her granddaughters to the Disaster Relief Center the day after she got aid: "My granddaughters were so happy to hear the story of the recycled blankets, that they wanted to see the volunteers. Thank you so much for your help!”
Others were inspired to join in and volunteer.
Lyndsay Perez arrived at the Disaster Relief Center with her roommate saying they wished to join the team of volunteers. When they learned about Tzu Chi's programs which include the promotion of a vegetarian diet, Lyndsay exclaimed, "We’re both vegetarians, this is the best solution to protect the environment!”
For Mauricio Reguero, seeing Tzu Chi volunteers was a welcome déjà vu. He was helped by Tzu Chi two years ago, as one of the Onion Creek Flood victims then. Volunteers got emotional hearing his story and seeing how optimistic he was during yet another difficult situation. As Mauricio was leaving, he quipped, "See you in two years!" Volunteers were quick to respond: “No!!!” But maybe next time, they’ll be on the same side of the table, since Mauricio left his contact information and hopes to volunteer too.