Hurricane Harvey has shut down the nation's seventh-largest public school district in the nation. The Houston school district will remain closed at least the rest of the week due to the devastation caused by the hurricane damage and massive flooding in Houston and southeast Texas. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says New York State's largest teachers union wants to offer assistance.
"Unions are families. Our brothers and sisters in Texas are hurting right now,” said Carl Korn of New York State United Teachers (NYSUT).
Korn tells WBFO New the union has established a NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund. The same type of disaster fund activated in 2012 in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy that devastated parts of New York State and Hurricane Katerina in 2005.
NYSUT's donation site went live Monday.
“We’re encouraging NYSUT members and, of course, and members of the community want to as well – to donate to the NYSUT Disaster Relief Fund. Of every penny donated goes directly to educators and their families,” Korn remarked.
Korn said it’s important to let educators and their families in the Houston region, who are union colleagues, know New York's union is pulling for them during this catastrophic event. Some schools in the Houston area have been destroyed by the flooding.
“It is unbelievably sad and, of course, as the storm is still going on our first thoughts is that everybody should be safe and everybody should have safe drinking water and roof over their heads, but eventually we are going to have to transition to rebuilding and helping Texas rebuild and helping these children, who undoubtedly have been emotionally hurt by this storm – this catastrophe.
New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta issued a statement on assisting those in the Houston region:
“As this catastrophic storm ravages Houston and southeast Texas, NYSUT stands with educators, students and their families in mourning the heart-breaking losses there. Along with my fellow officers, I am extremely worried about conditions for teaching and learning when the floodwaters finally recede. NYSUT, as part of the union family, will respond as it always does in times of great national crisis. NYSUT is today activating its Disaster Relief Fund to receive donations and urges members and locals to contribute generously. NYSUT will coordinate with its national affiliates — the AFT and NEA — to make sure that our union brothers and sisters and affected communities, receive whatever help and relief we can provide as they try to get back on their feet during the long recovery period ahead.”
NYSUT will forward donations to the national relief effort and are coordinating with the national unions to make sure help is provided in the long recovery ahead.