By Ilyas Hasan Choudry, MMNS
Houston, Texas–September 16–The Islamic Circle of North America Relief (ICNA Relief) spearheaded basic relief efforts in collaboration with volunteers of various Islamic Organizations in post-Ike Houston.
Debris from Hurricane Ike is shown in this aerial view of Crystal Beach, Texas, September 14, 2008.
REUTERS/David J. Phillip/Pool
Cooperating organizations included the Young Muslims (YM â€“ Boys-&-Girls), the Islamic Society of Greater Houston (ISGH), Helping Hand USA (HH-USA), ICNA-Houston (Brothers-&-Sisters) and Tableeghi Jamaat, at three Masajids of ISGH, namely Masjid Bilal (North Houston Adel Road), Masjid Mustafa (Northwest Houston Bear Creek) and Masjid At-Taqwa (Southwest Houston Synott Road). The Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH) had their Pakistan Center on standby for temporary shelter.
About 400 people were served at these three locations, as they moved from their hazardous areas into safer locations. Not withstanding the limited resources, ICNA Relief, HH-USA and ISGH were able to open these three shelters with all the basic necessities and generators.
Local Mainstream TV-&-Radio Channels, the City of Houston Health Department, Rice University and Congressional Offices of Hon. Sheila Jackson Lee and Hon. Nick Lampson took notice of these services provided by ICNA Relief, HH-USA and ISGH, as regular phone calls were received from these locations. They were trying to make sure that if they could be of any help, if they can send more evacuees to these centers and to know about the health and well-being of the evacuees. All of them highlighted the services provided by the Muslim community. One media channel said that these were the only shelters open by any faith-based group.
Several non-Muslims, from Alvin, Clear Lake, Sugar Land and other places called volunteers of ICNA Relief and HH-USA, wanting to reach to one of the three centers. They were promptly given addresses and directions. A worried mother called from California trying to get her daughter–stuck in traffic–to the North Houston Center. Another lady called from Maryland, asking how she could help. Support was overwhelming.
â€œICNA Relief has allocated emergency funds for this effort and we expect to spend $10,000 and more. We want to urgently appeal to our generous donors to contribute whole heartedly at our website towards this IKE Emergency Fund (http://www.icnarelief.org/), where we may as well need more resources during the aftermath phase of IKE. We have already purchased high power generators and fuel for our three temporary shelter locations. With the Grace of God and help of our volunteers, we will be providing early morning provisions to keep the fast and then food for breaking the fast and dinner after sunset. Our three locations are not official or certified shelters. However, our doors were open to everyone, Muslims and Non-Muslims, who may feel the need to be away from their places of living, so as to be at a more comfortable place and where they will feel secure with other people around them.
â€œWe will provide basic help in terms of food, water, electric generators in case of power outages at these centers and places, where people are able to bring their pillows and bedding to take some rest. Under no circumstances, ICNA Relief, HH-USA and/or ISGH are liable for the safety of the people,â€ explained Ayub Badat, Coordinator of ICNA Relief, about the efforts & needs of this effort and the procedures in place, as ICNA-Relief organized these three temporary places to stay during and after IKE.
People from Bear Creek and Synott Road locations left 24 hours after Ike, while several families stayed back at the Adel Road location till the evening of Tuesday, September 16, 2008.
â€œMay Allah Bless ICNA Relief and all the Volunteers,â€ these were the words of Sheikh Mustafa, Imam of Masjid Bilal (North Zone) in Houston, where scores of ICNA Relief volunteers are taking care of about 300 families and individuals, including children and women, who stayed in the Masjid, seeking shelter from the fury of Hurricane Ike.
The deafening sound of generators, combined with the wind gusts piercing through doors and windows, made things more difficult for the volunteers at North Houston Adel Road Center for suhur.
Volunteers were totally drenched as they struggled past high speed gust of winds to move food in protected containers to the masjid area. The situation was no different in the other two shelters opened by ICNA Relief in cooperation with the ISGH.
Volunteers of Tableeghi Jamaat also helped in rendering these services, especially at the ISGH Bear Creek Masjid.
Early Saturday morning, when Ike started roaring through the city, power went out, windows started falling apart, roof shingles flew off, and many frightened residents of the neighborhood started rushing to the shelter. They were welcomed by ICNA workers.
For more information and your kind support, please visit http://www.icnarelief.org/ or call Ayub Badat (ICNA Relief) 917-602-4450; Saad Ansari (ICNA Relief) 281-282-7010; Haseeb Abdali (ICNA-Houston) 713-261-4512; ILyas Hasan Choudry (Helping Hand USA ) 832-275-0786.