Area helps Harvey victims
Area residents’ generosity last week may allow some of the donations collected for Hurricane Harvey victims to be rerouted for those who were affected last weekend by Hurricane Irma.
Four collections organized by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation last week brought in four times more donations for Harvey victims than expected.
Chief Operating Officer John Hodge said after a final count of the donations, the foundation has nearly five tractor trailers’ worth of supplies. The foundation had drop-off locations in New Milford, New Fairfield, Sherman and Danbury.
“We had over 100 pallets,” Hodge said.
Hodge said they planned to reroute some of the donations — mostly water — to Florida.
Since local residents donated the supplies thinking they would head only to Harvey victims, Hodge said the foundation will replace any supplies that go to Irma by buying a matching amount in Texas.
The foundation first collected donations the previous weekend at Faith Church in New Milford, which had been so successful it led them to look into getting a second 18-wheeler.
“You hope for the best, but you don’t really know,” Hodge said. “But I’m not really surprised, because we did very similar-type events for Superstorm Sandy and we had a tremendous outpouring then.”
Lisa Reiss, a coordinator of the foundation’s 9/11 mobile exhibit and the Danbury drop-off center, said the organization had a steady stream of donations since morning and by 3 p.m had accepted donations from nearly 80 people.
Reiss said the Danbury center also received a large donation — a pallet of water and two pallets of food — from Stew Leonard’s, which filled up about half the location’s U-Haul.
The supplies will be taken to Community Church in Orange, Texas, whose senior pastor used to serve at Faith Church in New Milford, Hodge said. Orange, about three hours from Houston, was hit hard after the hurricane’s second landfall.
The foundation is also collecting donations on its website to continue relief efforts and will send a group of New York firefighters to Texas to help repair homes and cook for survivors.
“(This foundation) knows how to mobilize,” Reiss said. “They don’t just collect the stuff, they know how to get it there and they have people they have been in contact with in Texas, so we know exactly where we’re going.”