Environment, Hurricane, National News, News

“Houston, We Got U” established by UM students to aid those affected by Hurricane Harvey

IMG_0773.JPG

Second year law school students, Catalina Rodriguez, Sanjana Palla and Leah Stevenson, started "Houston, We Got U" on Aug. 28 to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey. Photo credit: Vanessa Gonzalez

For Labor Day weekend, Sanjana Palla, who has lived in Houston since she was a child, had a flight booked to return to her hometown. Then, Hurricane Harvey hit. Now, instead of spending time with family and friends, she will be in Miami fundraising and collecting donations to help those affected by the storm.

Palla said although her family and friends are safe, some of her family members are displaced from their homes. Her aunt and uncle had to be rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard and her house has become a safe haven for a total 15 family members and friends.

“This is not their first rodeo with hurricanes, so everyone kind of underestimated how severe it would be until it started; nobody knew,” she said. “My house isn’t flooded … so it has become a safe zone.”

IMG_6528.JPG

Photo Courtesy: "Houston, We Got U"

With nearly 40 inches of water inundating streets, 30 estimated deaths and hospitals teeming with victims, Houston struggles to cope with Hurricane Harvey and its devastation. Palla is one of three University of Miami students who have started a drive on campus to aid efforts in Texas. All three have ties to Houston.

On Aug. 28, Catalina Rodriguez, Leah Stevenson and Palla started “Houston, We Got U,” a two-part fundraiser collecting monetary and rescue donations for the millions affected by the storm.

Stevenson, whose family was flooded in for four days, said the feeling of helplessness is what brought all three together to brainstorm how to help their beloved hometown.

“It’s hard to be here and be enjoying our lives, be in school and have this normal routine and trying to make sure people are okay,” Stevenson said.

The students set up a GoFundMe to raise money for All Hands and the Houston Humane Society, two Houston-based nonprofits. All Hands’ staff aids in the response and recovery efforts while the Houston Humane Society provides shelter and food for stray or abandoned animals impacted by the hurricane.

IMG_6527.JPG

Photo Courtesy: "Houston, We Got U"

Rodriguez, who used to live in Houston but now resides in Florida with her family, said she is “blown away” by UM’s response to the initiative. The GoFundMe’s original goal was $2,500. After reaching it Aug. 30, the goal has been updated to $5,000.

“We’re incredibly grateful and incredibly happy,” Rodriguez said. “One of the biggest goals we had that was more than fundraising was awareness. A lot of people didn’t really understand the severity of the situation.”

Rodriguez said one of the most impactful stories she’s heard from the storm is one from her high school colleague whose brother died trying to save others. According to Rodriguez, the man was electrocuted when he made contact with the sitting street water.

IMG_6485.JPG

Photo Courtesy: "Houston, We Got U"

“That really, really touched me because this was a young man just trying to help,” Rodriguez said. “On top of the danger that there is associated with helping the people … there’s still such an overwhelming amount of people trying to help and trying to support those who have been hurt most by the hurricane.”

Donation boxes have been placed at UM’s Law Library, Alma Jennings Student Lounge, Shalala Student Center’s Law Lounge, Department of Education in Merrick Suite 312 and the KTT Law Firm.

“Houston, We Got U” also asks the UM community for essentials including clothes, underwear, non-perishable baby formula, diapers, soap, Ibuprofen, pet supplies and blankets.

Palla said that it was important for students at UM, and everywhere else, to be aware of the danger natural disasters present.

“Natural disasters, you just don’t know how they’re going to affect each individual person,” Palla said. “Natural disaster does not decide between color, socioeconomic status or anything. It affects everybody in some way shape or form. It’s very important to be aware of the devastation it causes, not just what the media portrays but actually listening to the stories of the people affected.”

The deadline for all donations is Sept. 21.

September 1, 2017

Reporters

Amanda Herrera

Amanda Herrera can be reached via email at aherrera@themiamihurricane.com and through Twitter at @_AmandaHerrera.


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Former NFL and University of Miami star Kellen Winslow Jr. was arrested Thursday for numerous allege ...

Trevor Darling's perseverance paid off. After not being selected in the NFL Draft, the former U ...

Father's Day has never been a big holiday in the Larranaga household because basketball always ...

The start to former Miami Hurricanes defensive end Chad Thomas' NFL career is going through a m ...

At one section of Miami's Richmond Park, Hurricanes offensive line coach Stacy Searels taught a ...

A University of Miami lecturer explores the role of the front porch in black communities. ...

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, two public health sciences students traveled to Puerto Rico to ...

Colder Atlantic temperatures could change hurricane season forecasts, but the trend isn't expec ...

UM neurorehabilitation expert David S. Kushner, M.D., who helps modern patients recover from brain s ...

UM News interviewed a Miami Business School professor to learn more about claims that the changes co ...

An outstanding showing at the USATF Championships earned Symone Mason a trip to the World U20 Champi ...

The University of Miami track and field program got off to a strong start at the 2018 USATF Junior O ...

Amy Deem was recognized for the third time as the ACC Women's Outdoor Track and Field Coach of ...

Symone Mason, Tiara McMinn and Hasani Knight will be in the field of competitors at the 2018 USATF J ...

During the 2017-18 school year, Miami had student-athletes from 17 of the 32 countries in the FIFA W ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.