By Chinta Strausberg

The Rainbow PUSH Coalition Hurricane Harvey relief drive continues Tuesday, September 5, at Dr. King’s Workshop, 930 E. 50th St., where donations can be dropped off from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Saturday, October 9th, to help victims in Houston, TX many living in temporary shelters while others were once victims of Katrina.

The second stage of the PUSH Hurricane Harvey relief drive has been extended to Saturday, September 9th.  PUSH is taking one storm at a time. Hurricane Irma has Rev. Jesse L. Jackson very concerned as he continues to help thousands of Hurricane Harvey flood victims.

Over the weekend a steady stream of donors dropped off needed supplies for the thousands of Houston, Texas flood victims many escaping the ravaging flood waters with only the clothes on their backs and are now homeless.

At a press conference held outside of the PUSH headquarters, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. was joined by Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown, Judge Marian Perkins and other supporters. Rev. Jackson made a plea for more donations including new book bags, underwear, and new clothes but also for more volunteers needed to box and label the items.

Last week and again today, Michael Apa and his son, William “Billy” Apa, owners of the Fore Transportation, donated a huge truck that will be driven to Houston later this week.  The Apa family has known the Jackson’s for more than 30-years, according to the father.

While President Trump visited Houston last week to inspect the damage of Hurricane Harvey, Rev. Jackson expressed concern not only for the victims but also for “ignoring the cost of ignoring the signs of climate change.

“When the globe gets warmer, when the waters get warmer, there will be hurricanes and tornadoes,” Jackson told reporters.

But, the natural disasters are not just in the U.S. Jackson pointed to similar devastations and displacements of thousands like in Niger where 44 people were killed and 105,000 are at risk of losing their homes. “The recent natural disasters we are seeing in the U.S., Africa, Asia and India are reflections of environmental lessons the current administration has yet to admit and take seriously,” said Jackson.

“Ignoring the impact of climate change is a passive act of environmental injustice,” he warned.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Rev. Jackson was referring to Nigeria where 30 people died and 100,000 displaced. In Sierra Leone there have been floods and mudslides resulting in 1,000 deaths and affecting 41,000 others. In Bangladesh, Nepal, India 1200 have died and 41 million affected. “

“The recent natural disasters we’re seeing in the U.S., Africa, Asia and India are reflections of environmental lessons the current administration has yet to admit and take seriously,” said Jackson.

Rev. Jackson urged Trump to rescind his withdrawal of the Paris Climate Agreement and re-engage the approximately 200 international partners in prioritizing lower carbon emissions over economic growth cutting greenhouse gas emissions and capitalizing on the clean energy industry.

Jackson also called on Trump to reinstate the Obama administration’s federal flood risk management standards that require agencies to account for climate change projections when projects are approved.

And Rev. Jackson also wants Trump to understand that climate change is real and called for a formal education of the relationship between climate change and natural disasters. Rev. Jackson is taking one storm at a time, and he is watching Hurricane Irma very closely as it winds it way towards the Caribbean and Florida.

“We need to invest in infrastructure….because climate change is not fake news. It’s real. Global warming is not fake news. It’s real,” said Jackson.

Clerk Brown also asked for more donations emphasizing the need for brand new not used items. “Bring something that you want,” she told reporters.

Brown understands first-hand about the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey including the anxiety, trauma and grief for her daughter, Kesi Cook, who lost everything in the flood, was trapped on the second floor of her home for five-days.

The Coast Guard rescued Cook after spending one night in a shelter and another night with a “kind church member she did not know. “ FEMA is providing her daughter with a hotel room for 30 days. “She lost everything,” said Brown. “I have relatives and friends there.”

Brown, who is from Louisiana, said, “People who went over to Houston from Katrina are now displaced. This is a devastating situation for a lot of people. This is a time for us to step up…,” Brown said announcing her office has partnered with PUSH. Her employees are donating to the relief drive. “My employees have great hearts. They are always willing to help.”

In comparing Katrina with Hurricane Harvey, Rev Jackson, said, “Many people we know left Katrina and moved to Houston. Harvey is more devastating than Katrina because it takes up so much more territory. We could have done more to avoid the crisis in New Orleans had we invested in the levies.”

Jackson pointed to Hurricane Harvey and how the floodwaters had no place to go given all of the construction and development that have gone on in Houston. The water simply filled the concrete areas flooding thousands of homes.

“The storms keep coming,” warned Jackson. “The crises keep getting bigger.” Jackson said it is time for the government to acknowledge climate change.

So touched by the media reports on how many people are now homeless their homes now a pile of rubbish, Judge Perkins donated $1,000 to the relief drive.

“My heart is aching…so moved for what is occurring, and I support wholeheartedly all of the outstanding work and Rev. Jackson and Rainbow PUSH have done…. It is extremely important to support our entire community, locally, nationally and internationally,” the judge said.

Dave Temkin, a school social worker, and his father, Harold Temkin, 87, who called Hurricane Harvey “tragic and terrible.”

Agreeing with Rev. Jackson and his son, Jonathan, that the Trump administration is not dealing with climate change, Dave Temkin said the Jackson’s were “point on.” “We are not addressing the root of the problems, and we keep getting pounded by the consequences.”

  • New clothing (T-shirts, sweat pants, underwear, etc.)
  • Bedding (sheets, blankets, pillows, etc.
  • Non-perishable food
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Baby supplies (diapers, unopened formula, bottles, etc.)
  • Pet supplies (food, carriers/crates, leashes, bowls, etc.)
  • Towels

Volunteers are needed to help sort, package and load the donations into the truck for Houston, TX and other flood affected areas.