We just got off the phone with AFT leaders in Texas. As everyone who has turned on an electronic device this weekend knows, the state, particularly the Gulf Coast, has been hit with a catastrophic hurricane, with record rainfall. CNN has called Harvey unprecedented and catastrophic. We’re following the situation closely and hammering out exactly how we are going to help. Our leaders and staff have been in touch with our members constantly since Friday to make sure everyone is all right.
Nearly two feet of water fell in Houston on Saturday night alone. Our leaders there have been texting members, and most have checked in as physically safe, but many are without power. They’re particularly worried about seniors and retirees, and will continue to check on them.
We’ve heard from Corpus Christi that there’s major flood and storm damage. And in Rockport, the high school is completely destroyed. Many are worried now about gas leaks and fires from the damage in the aftermath of the storm.
While we are calling on the federal and state government to help, this is the time for us to help too. We, as a union family, must respond as we have in past crises.
The AFT’s disaster relief fund is working to make sure that AFT members and the communities we serve receive help and relief during and after this storm. All three of us have just made contributions to the relief fund, and we wanted to give others the chance to help our brothers and sisters in their time of need.
The donations to the relief fund will help our members and affected communities—from Corpus Christi to Houston—rebuild. Whether it is home damage, ruined cars, injuries from the floods or even lost school material, we’re going to make sure people get back on their feet. And we’ve been asked to make sure our members in the affected areas see this message—so they know what their union is doing in their time of need.
The storm looks like it’s going to go on for days. This is the type of storm that leaves communities devastated for years to come.
Again, we’re calling on the federal government to do everything it can, just as it did with Superstorm Sandy. We’ll continue to push government officials to implement immediate and effective disaster relief programs. The Texas AFL-CIO is also exploring coordination with other aid groups, such as the Red Cross and United Way. But as an AFT family, we must be quick to act.
When our members return to their schools, both they and their students’ families will be rebuilding and recovering. Let’s make sure that Texas educators have the resources and support they need. Let’s make sure our communities are supported.
Texas AFT is already mapping out how to deliver clean water and other supplies to affected areas, and we have posted resources on to help students and families coping with natural disasters. Help us make a difference right now by donating to the AFT disaster relief fund in support of Texas.
Let’s keep our sisters and brothers in Harvey’s wake, and their communities and their loved ones, in our thoughts and prayers.
Randi Weingarten, AFT President
Lorretta Johnson, AFT Secretary-Treasurer
Mary Cathryn Ricker, AFT Executive Vice President