Bangar Reddy and 14 other members of three Indian-American families, 6 of them children, including a two-year old, are loading up their vehicles to start the journey from floodwaters in Sugar Land, TX, to Austin, via Route 6, the only access point they have. Reddy spoke to News India Times Aug. 29 morning as members of the family were busy packing up to leave within the hour. Reddy moved his family to Pelfair from the more-threatened area of Riverstone a few days ago, but now with city officials saying some controlled water release from dams is planned for the very near future, they are hastening to leave before all roads close. Pelfair had been the only part of Sugar Land not under mandatory evacuation, but they are not taking any chances now.
A massive number of Indian-Americans in the Greater Houston Area have been affected by the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey as it continues on its path of destruction. Hindus have opened their temples, Sikhs their gurdwaras, and Muslims their mosques, in a massive people-to-people effort.
Indian-Americans in somewhat safer neighborhoods have formed numerous volunteer groups to help those affected by the devastating floods using social media to communicate details about which family is affected in each locality. Temples are filled with Indian-American families; Indian restaurants are reaching out preparing free food for thousands and sending them to shelters that these groups have formed; individual families are housing two or three Indian-American families from affected areas. In fact, they are so busy, they had no time to take photos or share any with this correspondent.
Approximately 100,000 Indian-Americans and Indians live in the Greater Houston Area, according to Kishore Rama Raju, who lives in the relatively less affected area of Eldridge in Houston. Since Aug. 24, this IT project manager and his group of friends in the Pineville Ranch locality, have used their Facebook account – HoustonDesiFriends with its 5,000 members, to operationalize a rescue and relief effort with 100 volunteers, connecting with boat rescuers, using their own large vehicles, etc., he told News India Times. The charity organization Sneha Hasthan, is in touch with many of those Indian families affected and shares information with the Pineville Ranch group and others, to get help for them. Nearly 10-15 Indian restaurants have been helping prepare food, each of them sending enough for at least 2,000 people. Volunteers are helping with rescuing those trapped by taking their large vehicles and trucks that can navigate through high waters, he said. “We are sharing information across social media on what to do and what routes to take etc., for those in more affected areas,” Reddy said. Even though people knew Harvey would be bad, they did not expect it to be this bad and Indian-Americans were like many others, only now been moving out to reach their relatives and friends in other towns and cities.
“Sugar Land was informed very late to evacuate and in very short time now because they are opening some of the reservoirs,” Raju said. The eastern side of Route 99 is most affected, places like Katy and Sugar Land.
Temples like Shady Side and Astalakshmi in the Eldridge area which is west of Route 99, are already housing close to 500 mostly Indian-American families. “But we also have help from another 200 families who have come forward to house two or three families, for example in the area of Woodland,” Raju said.
The most-needed items for all the displaced families are baby food including milk powder and other baby products, air mattresses, sleeping bags, comforters, towels, blankets, pet foods, according to Sankar Tangirala, a senior analyst with Motiva, an oil and gas company, who along with his friends in Pineville Ranch, have been working non-stop since Aug. 24, with relief efforts to affected Indian-American and other families in the Katy area, a western suburb of Houston badly affected by the floods.
Multiple shelters at Cinco Ranch High School and Morton Ranch High School as well as most recently, Cinco Junior High, have been opened in Pineville, to house displaced families. Tangirala, Srinivas Vasu, Prasad Patibanda, Krishna Bayana, and Arvind Patibanda, are among the group of volunteers from Pineville Ranch. They are just one of numerous Indian-American groups helping out Harvey’s most affected victims.
Indian-American restaurants as well as people with different skills, doctors, nurses, have used social media to reach out a helping hand, including someone who said he would help with any electrical problems.
“May god bless them,” said a man named Rajesh Nagpal, who circulated the names of various establishments in Greater Houston, who have come forward to help. They include Curry House in Cypress for pickup @The curry house 10728 Cypress Creek Pkwy. Contact 713 725 9805; Biryani Express in Pearland can give food packets- Nishanth +1 (281) 707-9574; Deep Foods; Dr Minni Malhotra for free medical consultation at 606-854-2551; Hyderabad Restaurant in Woodlands; Masala Radio is broadcasting live any help needed and have a Hummer that can help evacuate from high waters- Contact Sunil Thakkar 2812776874 or text 7135451595; Universal Bakery and Biryani in Katy proving accommadation and food on Cinco Ranch Blvd, in Katy. Contact Surya Anakala @ 732 447 5886; Cafe India & Bollywood Chowpaty Chaat, Sugar Land – call or text Dinesh Purohit 732 593 9650; Biryani Pot, Katy- Fulshear/Richmond/Rosenberg area, call Vijay +1 (610) 714-2123; Surya Raguthu garu & Manjula Raguthu garu from Ace Pain Management offering free medical consultations. Call Dr Manjula Raguthu 956-639-8699, Medwin family medicine, Dr Surya Raguthu 956-639-8666; Meridian Springs Primary Care is offering free e-consults thru video chats or phone calls to people who are in need of it. Contact Dr Bhavana Rao Sunil Gopalkrishna at 281-826-1359; Narender, Raghveer and Shreedhar from Houston and Sugar Land Area want to help serving food to up to 1000 people, who are in Shelters, For contact or pickup, call 979-481-9999, 832-798-0394 and 832-728-2873; Biryani Pot Restaurant on Westheimer@Hillcroft location is serving hot packed meals Contact Ravi at 614-558-7597 or Sreedhar at 832-727-5620; Bawarchi Houston. Contact Naveen at 973-393-7117; Vishala Restaurant is providing free lunch and dinner and if needed, free delivery to Alaina area. Contact Manoj Paladugu @ 1 (248) 778-8855 to provide head count; Hyderabad House, Katy will be providing free lunch, snacks & dinner boxes from today afternoon to Hurricane/Tornado impacted families and will continue for next couple of days as part of community service. Please contact Sudheer @ 713.714.7124 ; Anyone needing electronic, plumbing or hvac help, free of cost, contact Sanjay Gupta- 281-857-5474.