KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — As the floodwaters start to recede in the Houston area in the wake of Harvey, some West Michigan businesses are starting to collect donations to send to people who lost everything.
Morris Rose Auto Parts on E. Michigan Avenue in Kalamazoo decided Wednesday it was going to utilize its semi-trucks and business partners to get supplies to people southeast Texas. Owner Mark Rose said trucks that usually ship recycled auto parks would be pressed into service to haul boxes of donations.
“Communities come together. And we do that, we’ve seen that in the last year or so with the tragedies that have happened in Kalamazoo and it just seemed like another opportunity for us and, I’m sure, communities across the country,” Rose said.
The business will be taking donations of pretty much anything to fill large boxes that will make their way to the Houston area. Partners with the Team PRP network of Auto Recyclers will then store and distribute those items.
“I would guess that if you were displaced from your house … you’re going to need food, toothbrushes, toothpaste, clothing,” Rose said.
On Wednesday, Harvey was downgraded to a tropical depression. It was a Category 4 hurricane when it made landfall in southeast Texas late last week.
In five days of nonstop precipitation, it dumped record rain on the Houston area, causing unprecedented and deadly flooding for the nation’s fourth-largest city. Tens of thousands of people are being housed in shelters after more than 1,000 homes were destroyed and nearly 50,000 more damaged, the Associated Press reports.
“A lot of the buildings are unusable. They are still assessing what their needs are, so to process any kind of donations would actually divert them from the front lines of feeding and hydrating and rescue,” Divisional Commander for Salvation Army of Western Michigan & Northern Indiana Major Glen Caddy told 24 Hour News 8.
He said that’s why the Salvation Army isn’t accepting clothing and other donations and is instead encourage monetary donations.
“100 percent of donations made for Hurricane Harvey will go directly to the Salvation Army in Texas and 100 percent of those funds will be spent on the front lines purchasing food, paying for gasoline in the kitchens, providing electricity, utilities, bedding, mattresses, whatever needs to be used,” Caddy said. “I believe for the most part, any reputable charity will be working in the same manner.”
He said the economy in the Houston area is hurting right now.
“The ability to go out an purchase food and purchase supplies locally is important for them, as well, because as you’ll understand the economy, the businesses are all in upheaval because of what’s happening and so being able to use the cash locally through local vendors helps to support the economy somewhat while they’re trying to sort things out,” Caddy said.
But during natural disasters like Harvey, nonprofits say they are inundated with calls of where to donate goods. While many nonprofits like the Salvation Army are encouraging monetary donations, they say if you do decide to give something else, be smart about what you donate. Avoid extraneous items: For example, don’t give cold weather clothing if it’s not cold.
Caddy said that if local businesses do decide to ship items, like Rose Auto Parts, they should also consider the timing. He said donations should be shipped in the weeks and months following initial rescue efforts.
The Salvation Army in Michigan is on standby to deploy its mobile kitchens to Houston. Those kitchens will be used to feed people during the cleanup and rebuilding efforts.
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