by Cheryl Piccio, ABS-CBN News
HOUSTON, TX — Six days into one of the biggest storms to hit the US in decades, Houston emergency responders have rescued thousands of people.
As floodwaters continue to rise in the city, officials expect that still thousands more evacuees will be in need of help in the days to come.
None of the 80,000 Fil-Am residents of Houston were reported to have lost their lives or were injured during the storm, but many either escaped or were rescued from flood waters themselves.
Hundreds of Fil-Am volunteers have now sprung into action, answering the call to help those who are stranded by the floods.
“Kami po at karamihan ng kababayan natin ditto sa houston ay mag-ti-tipon tipon para mangu lekta ng mga donation,” said Marissa Oliquinio.
Joseph Santarose, a champion tae kwon do competitor and owner of rock solid tae kwon do in Houston, opened his business as a shelter.
“I felt like I couldn’t sit back and do nothing. I was watching the news and reading everyone’s Facebook posts, and I wanted to see if you like but… hey if I have a place to provide for people, then why not I know it’s small but it’s better than nothing. I just want to help out as much as I can,” said Santarose.
Within 24 hours, the donations came pouring in. Santarose’s taekwondo studio quickly became a fully stocked facility, complete with a wide assortment of Filipino food. He has rendered aid to over 40 people…and more people in need are on their way.
He has rendered aid to over 40 people…and more people in need are on their way.
“It got full really fast. As soon as I posted on facebook within 30 minutes I had families coming in. One family had six people another timely had four, and I just kept building and building throughout the night.”
Despite the rising floodwaters, the Filipino spirit is unsinkable here in Houston.
Fil-Ams who are able to help their fellow man are opening up their homes, hearts, and businesses, to give back to the community. Even braving the elements and high water to rescue those in dire need.
Paul Osario organized water rescues and a humanitarian effort to help a local dialysis clinic, braving the rain and floodwaters to transport the clinic workers by water, so they can continue to provide lifesaving dialysis treatments to desperate patients.
“Nakita nyo naman buma bagyo pa rin ditto at tuloy tuloy pa rin ang ulan at baha. Tuloy tuloy pa rin ang pag-hatid ng mga pasyente dahil kailangan talaga nilang ma -dialysis dahil kung hindi sila ma-da dialysis mamatay sila,” said Osario.
The damage to Houston is staggering. But despite this event, Filipinos have remained positive, banding together to serve the community — demonstrating that the “Bayanihan” spirit in Houston is waterproof.