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Hurricane Harvey

RE:          “Houston, we have a problem…”

I was six years old when the original quote “Houston, we’ve had a problem here” referred to an oxygen tank explosion on Apollo 13.  I can’t imagine that astronaut James Lovell could have possibly known how what he said would become a famous line, slightly altered, but generally used for humor.  Imagine for a moment being on a spaceship, suddenly facing an unknown reality that is life threatening and then more calmly stating than most of us can comprehend, “we’ve had a problem.”  Is it because it was so absurdly understated that it became a funny quote to use?

I wonder how many times that phrase was used this year between August 22nd and 24th.  It was on the 24th that it became almost certain that Hurricane Harvey was going to strike the middle and upper Texas coastline with potentially devastating impact.  It was on the 25th that Harvey quickly intensified to first a category 3 and then category 4 hurricane.  The phrase was probably used many times when it was clearly no longer funny, but who could have imagined: 

  • Cedar Bayou in Houston – 51.88” of rainfall, a North American record
  • Many observing stations had equipment disabled before they were able to measure top wind speeds.  Port Aransas reported 132 mph winds; Copano Village 125 mph.
  • The highest storm surge measured 12 feet above ground level at the Aransas Wildlife Refuge
  • Rockport and Fulton took a direct hit from the eyewall.  Roofs were blown off and walls collapsed.

When I think of Texas, I think of a “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” kind of state; a proud people who take care of their own.  It strikes me that Elkhart County in 2009 was a proud people taking care of its own with 20% unemployment.  I remember that was the first year of “Still Dancing in Elkhart”, which raised over $90,000 in the middle of a recession to help provide mental health counseling services here.  In almost all of the fundraising we’ve done, we talk about the dollars staying local to help our community.  That probably helps raise more money, but there comes a time when a problem is so severe and so significant that we need to reach out to another community.  This is that time.

Just like we can’t imagine being on Apollo 13, we can’t imagine crawling into an attic hoping the water will stop rising.  This is trauma, with a capital T - widespread, with long-term effects.  It’s not often that you can donate money and know that it is going to the front lines where it is needed most.  There is no doubt that millions of dollars will be fraudulently obtained with heart wrenching pleas for Houston.

So I’m writing today to ask for help in a specific way.  In the communities of Houston and Port Arthur there are Samaritan Center offices serving the residents.  I can tell you with 100% confidence that I know where their money goes and how it is used.   I know Steve Duson, the CEO of the 4 Houston Samaritan Centers, because he serves on the same Samaritan Institute board that I do.  I know how the work of those Centers makes a difference in lives in Texas.

The Samaritan Institute, through its 59 Centers across the nation, is raising $150,000 for fee assistance to be given to the Houston and Port Arthur Samaritan Centers to offer their communities.  It is my hope that the greater Elkhart community will provide $15,000 or more to help ensure access to counseling services for those citizens now dealing with widespread capital- T trauma.

Will you join me today in making a donation to the Centers in Houston and Port Arthur?  You can send a donation to The Samaritan Health & Living Center, Inc. note HH in the memo or give on-line.

Keep making a difference.

Best Regards,


Randal J. Rhoade

CEO, Elkhart Samaritan Center

Treasurer, Samaritan Institute Board of Directors

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