Help after Harvey

Published October 01 2017

How to apply

Those affected by Hurricanes Maria and Irma should apply for assistance at ASBMB membership is not required. The grants, worth up to $2,000 each, may be used for professional or personal use. Direct questions to our membership team.

At Erin Williams’ new home in southwest Houston, Hurricane Harvey’s damage started with sewage. It began backing up in the drains. Then came the floodwaters.

“We evacuated about six hours after the house started flooding,” Williams, a graduate student at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and a newlywed, recalled. “When we got back … we found that water had risen to about 18 inches in the house, and the house is not livable.”

Not livable. That’s what we’re hearing from a lot of people in the scientific community in southeast Texas. Last month, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology set up a fund to provide small grants for those affected by Harvey. The applicants’ stories underscore just how widespread the need is.

Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters rise in the home of research scientist Corina Rosales, who ultimately had to evacuate with her husband and dog. “By daybreak, 7:30 a.m.,” Rosales said, “the water was so high and rising that we had to put the coffee table on chairs in order to keep the dog from being in the water. By the time we were rescued at 1:30 p.m., the water was well above the chair seat. Hopefully we’ll never see another storm like this one.”Courtesy of Corina Rosales

For Bill Dowhan, a professor at the University of Texas McGovern Medical School, this was the second time his home had flooded. This time around he managed to save one car by parking it in an elevated garage.

At the University of Houston College of Pharmacy building in the Texas Medical Center, the lab where graduate student Xiang Gao works “was impacted by high-pressure steam, leaking water and a power outage,” Gao reported. Whether the expensive lab equipment is salvageable remains to be seen. Gao and others have suspended their research until they can relocate.

Corina Rosales, whose home backs up to one of the Bayou City’s many concrete gullies, had to be evacuated by raft with her husband and dog.

“On the first night, we started getting water in our home at 2:30 a.m., and by daybreak the water was three feet,” Rosales, a research scientist at the Houston Methodist Research Institute, recalled. Rosales and her husband lost all the contents of their home and are temporarily in an apartment. “Thankfully, we are fine, and there was no loss of life in our neighborhood.”

Other areas were not so fortunate. As September came to a close and more properties became accessible, the number of dead was nearing 100.

I was born and raised in Houston. I lived there for almost 30 years. Even though I’ve been gone awhile, it’s still my town, and it hurt to watch Harvey inundate it. Hurricane Harvey damaged graduate student Erin Williams’ Houston-area home, which she shared with her new husband, Dallas Lopez, and dog, Bojangles. Courtesy of Erin Williams I’m glad that the ASBMB is doing what it can to help
some of the people affected with grants for clothes, rent or other
necessities. Please spread the word.

And we know Harvey wasn’t the only recent devastating hurricane. This program will be expanded to help those affected by Irma and Maria. (Update: After we went to press, the program was expanded. Here's the application.

Hang in there, Southeast Texas. The ASBMB is thinking of you.

I’m thinking of you.

Angela Hopp Angela Hopp is executive editor of ASBMB Today and communications director for the ASBMB.