Events Industry Unites to Help Harvey Victims

Author: David McMillin       

By the time the rain from Hurricane Harvey stops falling on Friday, forecasts estimate that some parts of Houston — the nation’s fourth-largest city — will have received approximately 50 inches of rain. As emergency responders work to help people who are trapped in flooded homes, the events industry is offering displaced residents temporary housing. In Houston, the George R. Brown Convention Center has become an emergency shelter and quickly filled with evacuees. According to ABC News, the Red Cross made plans to house 5,000 people at the center. As of Tuesday, Aug. 29 at noon, more than 9,000 evacuees were at the center. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced that the city has plans for additional shelters, acknowledging that 30,000 more residents will need places to go.

“Over these last few days, the residents of this great city have shown the true Heart of Houston, and demonstrated how resilient and caring a community can be under the most trying circumstances,” Leah Shah, public relations director for Visit Houston, said in a statement. “We are proud of the efforts of so many Houstonians who have come to the aid of their fellow man in these trying times. While Harvey’s rains will soon leave this city, much work remains to be done. We are so grateful for the outpouring of support we have received from around the nation, and the many donations to local charities that will be needed to help support those who have lost so much.”

The Rest of Texas Volunteers

Nearly 250 miles north in Dallas, city officials have converted the first floor of the air-conditioned parking garage at the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center into a makeshift emergency shelter that can accommodate 5,000 evacuees in need of housing. The center will also offer medical care, a pharmacy with free prescriptions provided by Walmart, and mobile phone charging stations. While evacuees will be in the center’s garage, attendees at Ambit Energy’s Ambition Conference will still be uniting for their annual gathering from Aug. 29 – Sept. 1, and the company announced that it will donate $25,000 to the Red Cross relief efforts.

In Austin, city officials were preparing to welcome approximately 7,000 evacuees, and the hallways of the Austin Convention Center will act as one of the primary shelters in the state capital.

A Long Road Ahead

There are no official numbers for the total damage from the storm, but it’s clear that Houston and all of southeastern Texas will require a great deal of assistance. “This will be a long-term effort,” Major General James Witham, director of domestic operations, National Guard Bureau, told reporters. “Due to the nature of this storm, our response to this hurricane has been very different. As you look at historic levels of rainfall and sustained flooding over a period of multiple days…we will be doing life-saving and life-sustaining efforts for a much longer period.”

PCMA and the PCMA Education Foundation are uniting members of the business-events industry to contribute to those efforts with the PCMA Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. The fund will provide assistance to members in the meetings and events industry who have been impacted by the storm. “We applaud our colleagues in the hospitality communities across the Lone Star State for their hard work to help their friends, families, and neighbors,” said Deborah Sexton, president and CEO, PCMA. “I invite everyone in the business-events community to help our colleagues who are struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.”

In addition to providing immediate monetary assistance to the cleanup, Sexton added that PCMA and the PCMA Education Foundation are looking ahead at ways to offer continued support to the region. “After the initial emergency response phase, the area will need more help,” Sexton added. “We are committed to doing whatever it takes to help southeastern Texas emerge from this disaster stronger than ever.”

How You Can Help

If you live in the U.S. Text to 41444. Enter prefix “HELPTX,” the dollar amount, your first name and last name — e.g., HELPTX 50 Jane Doe. You will then receive a link to complete the process of your payment.

If you live outside of the U.S. Visit the Foundation’s donation page here and be sure to enter HELPTX in the “I give because” box and your donation will be directed to the PCMA Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.

Stay tuned to for additional updates on the recovery efforts.

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