When I sat down to write the September entry for the NIRSA President’s Notes leadership blog, it was just after Hurricane Harvey made landfall. In the week that followed, Harvey—and its devastating rains—has finally moved northeastwardly. Sitting 1,250 miles away it is hard to fathom the impact and sheer magnitude of this single storm which dropped more rainfall on Houston in only a few days than what Baltimore experiences in an entire year.
Texas and Louisiana have experienced over 24 trillion gallons of rain, which has spawned unprecedented flooding. To put that into a Northeast perspective: that amount of rain water would fill my beloved Chesapeake Bay and then some. Recovery, which is predicted to last months or years, is only just beginning.
So I am dedicating this month’s blog to all the #HumansOfNirsa who are coping, managing, navigating, and surviving through this storm of epic proportions. I am dedicating this to all those #HumansOfNirsa who have family, friends, and loved ones in the impacted area. And I am dedicating this to all those #HumansOfNirsa who are responding, providing care and assistance, volunteering, supporting, sending supplies, showing up, and being there for others.
So what’s next for our colleagues, friends, and families in the affected areas?
We know that recovery will be a long and difficult process for the communities impacted. Besides being the fourth largest city in the nation, the area impacted is home to scores of universities and colleges that support 200,000+ students, faculty, and staff.
As it says on the NIRSA website: “NIRSA members are like family, and as such, we all want to help our colleagues reeling in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.” Some actions I can suggest are:
- Be there for someone. Show up even when you can’t SHOW UP. Reach out to your friends and colleagues and check to see how they’re doing.
- Think of ways to provide relief and support. On the NIRSA website, there’s a banner linking visitors to reputable Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Please check it out.
- Follow the #NIRSAandHarvey hashtag on Facebook and Twitter to follow news and updates from NIRSA colleagues and friends.
- Share what’s happening with your colleagues. If you’re activating help or your campus community is in need of assistance, get in touch with your NIRSA family on the NIRSA Connect online community message board or contact NIRSA Membership Services Coordinator Megan Granholm via email or by phone: (541) 766-8211.
- Check out this article, shared by Ken Morton, NIRSA President Designee and Director of Campus Recreation at Stephen F. Austin University, to read about the perspective of one flood survivor and for practical advice for moving into the recovery stages.
- Whether you want to help kids, seniors, animals, individuals with disabilities, or just anyone who was affected by this tragedy, this NPR article has compiled a diverse list for those looking to send relief.
NIRSA Headquarters, the NIRSA Board of Directors, the NIRSA Member Network, and other leadership bodies are monitoring the situation as it continues to evolve and will be determining means for strategies of activation of services and relief in the coming weeks and months. Here is one early awesome example of relief activation from the campus recreation staff at Stephan F Austin University. A shout out and a thank you to the SFA team in this time of need.
In closing, thank you Mirum, Tina, Tony, Kathy, Iasha, and the others who have kept me posted. Finally, I want to let our friends and colleagues know that their NIRSA family and the #HumansOfNirsa are there for them now and through the long recovery.
Stay strong. Stay Houston Strong. Stay Texas & Louisiana Gulf Coast Strong!