While students at the University of Idaho, Washington State University and colleges across the nation prepare for an approaching storm of homework and activities, millions of people in Texas are coping with the devastating reality of natural disasters and preparing for those same problems. Many are in Florida.
Less than two weeks ago, Hurricane Harvey made landfall off the coast of Texas. Multiple cities in the area, including Houston, Texas’s largest city, were devastated by the hurricane and are still recovering. More than 2.3 million people, nearly twice the population of Idaho, lived in Houston alone and had to be relocated until the danger passed. Now many have no home to return to.
According to the New York Times article “The Cost of Hurricane Harvey,” Harvey’s economic damages range from an estimated $70 billion to $180 billion. If the higher estimates are correct, Harvey could be the most expensive hurricane to hit the US. Harvey is already known as a record-breaking storm, eclipsing previous record rainfall.
Now, Floridians face the prospect of Hurricane Irma traipsing into their state and destroying their homes as well. While Irma’s path is still unclear, the possibility that the hurricane could fall prompted Florida Gov. Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency for Florida.
For Moscow residents, these disasters, thousands of miles away, may seem distant and insignificant. No such disaster is likely to occur in or near northern Idaho anytime soon, and the majority of Idahoans have little or no direct connection to such disasters. Due to this lack of relatability, it can be easy to simply read an article or two about Harvey and Irma, then forget.
However, forgetting the problems of others before they have even been resolved does a disservice to the human beings who have suffered or will suffer at the winds of these hurricanes. It does a disservice to whose lives were secure and happy one moment and chaotic messes the next — people who need help.
And there are ways to help.
College students are especially strapped for time and cash, and it can often seem as though making a difference in the world can happen only after obtaining a degree. That isn’t true. Volunteering and donating to worthwhile causes are some of the multiple ways students can begin to make a difference in their community, nation and world.
Although Moscow is far from Texas, people can donate money online to the Red Cross and other organizations. CNN vetted and compiled a list of nonprofits helping Hurricane Harvey victims which can be found at http://bit.ly/2xKT53b. Additionally, the UI Department of Student Involvement is holding a coin drive Tuesday and Wednesday in the Idaho Commons and Student Recreation Center. The money gathered at the coin drive will be donated to the Red Cross to help with Hurricane Harvey disaster relief efforts.
Whether it be a donation of time, money or simply positive thoughts for those who have been affected or might be affected by these natural disasters, it is important to let them know they are not alone.