Headline News

Amidst Harvey’s Wreckage, Disaster Relief Offers a Glimmer of Hope


It is well known by now that Hurricane Harvey is one of the worst storms on record, and the most devastating to hit the east coast of Texas in well over a generation. Entire neighborhoods and cities have been almost completely destroyed in a less than a week.

“I would estimate that we have thousands of members that have been affected by this storm in one way or the other,” said Robert Mele, President of Teamsters Local 988. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the richest man in Houston or the poorest man in Houston. Harvey didn’t discriminate in its devastation.”

Amidst the chaos, the Teamsters have stepped in and stepped up to alleviate the suffering of the thousands of members who have been affected by the storm. Shortly after Harvey, Local 988 reached out to a warehouse in the area, and the owner was willing to let the Teamsters set up a staging location where they coordinate the distribution of much needed supplies to those who have been devastated by the storm. Hundreds of diapers, canned goods, boxes of food, bottles of water, and other much-needed relief items are coming off trucks all over the country; Teamster volunteers are loading them onto pallet racks and shipping them to evacuation centers.

“Everyone from Mayor Turner, to government board chairs, to various community groups are looking to us for help and guidance on how to respond to this disaster,” said Roy Gillespie, Teamsters Joint Council 13 Human Rights Commissioner. “Local 988 has been through this before. They can activate their network and response infrastructure pretty quickly to deal with this crisis.” 

Iashia Nelson is a Teamsters Local 988 member who works as a bus driver for First Transit. She came to Houston after surviving Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Nelson, her family, and her friends fled to a neighbor’s rooftop during Harvey’s worst floods, and they were rescued by the Cajun Navy after a live interview on Good Morning America.

“I know what it’s like to lose everything,” Nelson said. “Nobody is better than anyone else at this point, we’re all equal because we all lost everything we have. I know they should feel the same way I feel – just torn up about it. I went back to my apartment today and walked right back out because I don’t have anything left. The only thing that I saved was my bible.”

Teamsters throughout the Gulf Coast who have been devastated by Harvey need your help. Donate to the Teamsters Disaster Relief Fund today!