Local Hurricane Harvey relief effort now underway

Published 6:00 am Friday, September 1, 2017

With the remnants of Hurricane Harvey raining down on Vicksburg, community organizers and advocates came together Thursday afternoon to discuss ways in which they can assist the victims who are being impacted in and around Houston, Texas by the devastating storm.

The United Way conference room was packed with individuals from several local organizations interested in finding out how they can help partner with the United Way of West-Central Mississippi and the Randy J. Naylor Foundation. The meeting was facilitated by Randy J. Naylor Jr., and his wife, Tonya, as well as UW director Michele Connelly, who met with city officials earlier this week to discuss possible relief efforts for the people in Texas.

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The Naylors informed those in attendance that Vicksburg Mall will be a collection site for donations. Satellite drop off locations in Vicksburg will also be announced.

Presently, there are three collection sites: Calvary M.B. Church on Klein Street, Greater Grove M.B. Church on Alcorn Street and space in the mall formerly occupied by Play-land, which is located by Belk. The mall site will open Friday at 9 a.m.

Connelly said United Way will act as the fiscal agent for all donations of money.

Naylor said some immediate needs include cleaning products, water, non-perishable foods, new bedding, diapers and baby formula.

Tonya Naylor said that school supplies for students in the Houston area are also needed, as well as basic cleaning supplies.

County Emergency Management Agency Director John Elfer suggested to the group that there not be a convoy of vehicles traveling to Houston, but rather use a loaded 18-wheeler full of supplies that can make an initial trip.

“You can make a bad situation worse if you head out on your own,” Elfer said. “No one needs to self-deploy.”

The group would like to load a tractor-trailer with a tentative date of Sept. 15 to make the deployment to Houston.

“There are a lot of road closures and a lot of water still in the area,” Elfer said.

The Naylors currently have three faith-based partners in the Houston area in need of supplies: The Fellowship of Texas City in Dickinson, Texas; Grace Church in Humboldt and Life Church in Houston.

VFD Chief Craig Danczyk said his department is beginning an effort to raise money for the relief effort by allowing firemen who make a monetary donation to wear blue jeans on duty.

Some schools in the Vicksburg-Warren district have already begun donation drives and more are expected to join.

Visit the United Way of West Central Mississippi Facebook page to find satellite drop off locations.