Fil-Ams in Texas extend help to victims, no Filipino casualties according to DFA
Tropical Storm Harvey made a forceful hit on the Texas Gulf Coast on Friday, August 25, before making way across large parts of Texas and Louisiana, including Houston, the nation’s fourth largest city.
The category 4 hurricane came ashore Friday, forcing many residents to flee to higher grounds. Emergency services urged residents to climb onto rooftops and other high areas in order to be seen by rescue helicopters — close to 40 deaths have been reported.
With sustained winds of around 130 miles (215 kilometers) per hour, the storm has already made three landfalls and has amassed a large amount of damage. One of the world’s largest insurance groups, Hannover Re, estimated around $3 billion in insured losses on Monday, August 28.
In a statement on Wednesday, August 30, risk-modeling company RMS estimated economic losses between $70 billion to $90 billion from damage, most coming from the Houston metropolitan area. Numbers are expected to rise as the storm approaches its sixth day.
Among the damages were two ExxonMobil refineries that accidentally leaked 12,000 pounds of hazardous vapors as a result of Hurricane Harvey.
Harvey is the most powerful storm to hit the U.S. since Katrina in 2005.
Houston home to many Fil-Ams
At least 80,000 Filipinos live in Houston and its surrounding areas, but the Department of Foreign Affairs reported no Filipino casualties.
Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement on Sunday, August 27, “Our hearts go out to the people of Houston, including the thousand of our kababayan [fellow Filipinos], who have to go through this terrible ordeal.”
Just four years ago, Filipino communities across current affected areas were active in helping aid of Super Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Typhoon Yolanda. The category 5 equivalent typhoon led a catastrophic cut across the Visayas region, affecting 13 percent of the country’s population.
The Philippine American Chamber of Commerce Texas sent $20,000 to its sister chamber in Manila in preparation for Haiyan. Another $30,000 was raised at the Best of Filipiniana restaurant in southwest Houston according to a 2013 report by Chron.
Despite Hurricane Harvey, Filipinos in the area continue to send out help to their community. The Filipino Young Professionals (FYP) of Houston have began collecting donations for victims.
Their donation page reads, “FYP Houston extends its heartfelt sympathy to every person affected by Hurricane Harvey. The images of our community being devastated by the storm is heart-wrenching to us all.”
The Houston Pinoy Gun Club (HPGC) has been using rubber boats and tall pick up trucks to help transport patients and deliver supplies to and from a local dialysis center, as reported by Rappler.
“We offer our deepest sympathies to the families of those who lost their lives in this disaster, “ said Cayetano. “We will continue to pray for Houston and its people.” (Rae Ann Varona/AJPress)