Disaster Relief – Harvey and Beyond
Swadesh Katoch, Sewa International, Atlanta, GA
Hurricane Harvey, the costliest natural disaster in US history, slammed the Greater Houston area on August 25, 2017 inundating homes, roads, and buildings. It affected one in four Houstonians. Thirty-three trillion gallons of water got dumped on the region in a week. The damage was so severe that more than 200,000 homes were destroyed (50,000 in Houston alone), a million cars wrecked, and metro stations, schools, highways and other public facilities flooded. Hurricane Harvey is considered the largest calamity in the United States in recent memory. The economic devastation is estimated by the Texas Governor’s office at more than $180 billion, and that it may take five years to rebuild.
Sewa International coordinated efforts to bring together over 1250 volunteers for the critical rescue effort, which later transitioned into a relief effort. Given the volunteering and the “can do” spirit in the United States, and inspired by the noble ideas of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and Swami Vivekananda’s message that “Service to humanity is service to divinity,” Sewa volunteers sprung into action even though some of their own homes had been flooded and they and their families had to move into friends’ homes and hotels.
Sewa International received support from 42 local Indian organizations which collaborated with, supported and guided the important work of rescue and relief. The volunteers, along with Sewa administrators and staff, worked round the clock to provide hot meals and clean and repair homes in the flood devastated areas of Houston.
The poster showcases the work Sewa has done in rescue and relief operations in this context.
About the presenter…
Swadesh Katoch lives in Atlanta, GA, with his wife and three children. He is an IT Consultant by profession and has been volunteering with Sewa International since its inception in 2003. At present, he serves as Sewa’s National Director for ‘Bhutanese Empowerment Project’ and ‘Disaster Relief Activities’. In 2011 the Georgia Association of Physicians of Indian Heritage (GAPI) conferred the ‘Humanitarian of the Year’ award to Swadesh for his work within the Bhutanese Refugee community.