NM area residents supporting Harvey survivors

By David Fenker

NORTH MANCHESTER -- Despite being more than 1,000 miles away, the effects of Hurricane Harvey are being felt in North Manchester as several local individuals and organizations are reaching out to those in need.

According to various national news outlets, Harvey has claimed more than 60 lives as a result of the damaging amount of water it dropped on the southeast coast of Texas.

The storm made landfall on Aug. 25 as a Category 4 hurricane, bringing wind speeds of more than 130 miles per hour when it made landfall near Corpus Christi, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

Besides the high winds, Harvey also brought storm tides of more than 12 feet above ground level at some locations, as well as heavy rainfall. The NWS reported that Cedar Bayou in Houston, Texas received 51.88 inches of rainfall, a North American record. The floodwaters caused the most damage, with several thousand homes flooded and families displaced.

To help those affected by the flooding, Laketon resident Neil Schafer collected donations and drove them down to a distribution center in Beaumont, Texas.

Schafer collected supplies for children, mothers and expecting mothers.

“I have four daughters, and I want for these children what I would want for my own,” Schafer said. “These are human beings that need our help. It weighs heavy on my heart.”

Schafer loaded up a pickup truck and enclosed trailer with bags and boxes of clothes, fresh produce, nonperishable food items, diapers, personal hygiene items and more Saturday, Sept. 9 for the trip.

“We are also dehydrating our produce and canning it as well, and folks around the community are making food items for me to take,” he said.

The donations will be taken to a church in Beaumont that is acting as a central distribution center, sending supplies out to other nearby churches that then distribute them to their community, according to Schafer.

Donations came from all across northern Wabash County, including from Sycamore Preschool at the North Manchester United Methodist Church.

“As I spoke with my class about what was happening in Texas last week, one of my students said, ‘Mrs. A, can we help them? They are on the roof because they have too much water.’ That evening I saw a Facebook post from Bowser Schafer, that he was making a trip to Texas. So, I called him, and our donation process began,” Heather Alexander, Sycamore Preschool pre-k teacher, said.

She sent out letters to parents and posted about the donation drive on Facebook to get the word out.

“We were blessed with a fantastic turnout for Neil to take to Texas. It's been a great teaching tool for my young class about giving to others,” she said.

Alexander’s class of 11 preschool students helped donate 14 large bags of clothes of all sizes and four boxes of supplies for young children.

Those who wish to follow Schafer’s progress throughout the week may do so on Facebook. Schafer is listed under the name “Bowser Schafer."

Posted on 2017 Sep 12