When Hurricane Harvey dumped billions of gallons of water on Houston, Americans for Prosperity Foundation was already prepared to help.
AFPF staffers and volunteers descended on a storage unit in Baton Rouge and went to work assembling hundreds of kits for victims who had been evacuated.
After historic flooding hit Louisiana in 2016, AFPF wanted to help those affected, but had trouble getting supplies into the area. When the floodwaters receded, staffers and volunteers decided to make sure when another disaster struck, they had the resources on hand to swing into action quickly. They filled a storage unit with soap, toiletries and other necessities that they could deploy anywhere on the Gulf Coast.
“It was fortunate, because it was just a month ago that the supplies were delivered to the storage unit,” James Lee, the local Americans for Prosperity Foundation field director, said. “This was the perfect opportunity to take the resources we had and deploy them out to the areas that were hardest hit.”
Around 20 Americans for Prosperity Foundation volunteers spent two days emptying out the storage unit and packaging the supplies into 2,500 kits that could be easily handed out to evacuees as they arrived at shelters.
Once they finished assembling the kits, volunteers loaded 1,500 of them into a van and headed to the Lake Charles Civic Center, where supplies were desperately needed. Many shelters in the Houston area were flooding, and organizers were scrambling to accommodate hundreds more evacuees who had to be relocated.
“We showed up just in time with the supplies because they were running pretty low,” Lee said. “When we told the civic center volunteers the kits were for them their faces lit up because they had been out all night watching people arrive and they weren’t sure what they were going to do.”
Lee and the volunteers were able to spend time with some of the families in the civic center. “They told us it was so encouraging to them to see that other Americans didn’t abandon them in their time of need—they rallied around them and made sure they had what they needed.”
That weekend, they took the remaining kits to a local charity collecting supplies to send to Houston.
Lee said he was amazed by the response he got. “It wasn’t necessarily glorious work, it wasn’t comfortable or easy work, so when I sent out an email blast I was expecting three to four volunteers.” Instead, he said, offers of help poured in, including from people he didn’t even know who had been contacted by friends about the opportunity.
“There were people who wanted to help, but didn’t see how they could, but now they had a way to help,” Lee said. “Two ladies who had their home flooded and lost everything last year stayed both days to help in the hot, muggy storage unit because they knew the suffering people were going through,” Lee said.
“Without the volunteers helping out,” he said, “I would still be in that storage unit packing those kits.”