One month after Hurricane Harvey struck southern Texas, a local business is planning a second trip to Houston with trucks loaded with supplies for the victims.
The Tuesday after the Category 4 hurricane hit Houston, Chris Brahs, president of Brahs Solutions, realized he needed to do something to help the people suffering in Texas.
“I couldn’t sleep,” Brahs said. “I got up at 2 a.m. and was sitting outside drinking some coffee looking at the stars, and God told me to just go do it. So I created a Facebook post and the rest was history.”
Gaining momentum, the post found its way to another local business, Golden Crown Panaderia. The bakery’s owner, Chris Morales, was tagged on the post by a friend and called Brahs to offer the help of his bakery and staff.
“Once I heard about it through a mutual friend, I told him that I would figure out something to do, and the idea I came up with was a 24-hour event to bake as many loaves of bread as we can to send out there,” Morales said. “There’s no food; any bread that was out there was totally soaked in the water. We just needed to be able to get people to survive with the materials that they needed.”
The bake-a-thon exploded on social media, and the bakery’s customers and fans brought donations and offered their time to assist the bakers.
“It was amazing,” Morales said.
After baking all day Wednesday and through Thursday, Morales called in loyal customers to help cut and pack more than 500 loaves of bread.
“It just started creating this energy, and it kind of kept on building with each batch of loaves of bread, and then we asked for volunteers from our customers to come down to be able to pack the bread,” he said. “Our customers came in and sliced it all within about an hour and had it all packed up.”
When Morales called Brahs to offer his support, Brahs was more than excited.
“I said, ‘Right on, we’ll take it. I’ve got plastic totes I can deliver to the bakery, and you can load them up,’” he said.
The more attention the campaign picked up, the more donations were made.
“Bluewater Linens donated 12 pallets of linens, NAPA Auto Parts donated pallets of water and dry goods, people were bringing dog food, cases of water, diapers, wipes, socks and underwear for male and female and adult and children,” Brahs said. “It was everything, really. Gatorade, Clorox, cleaning supplies, a lot of stuff. A shoe store in the mall, they donated a lot of new shoes. It’s hard to remember everything we took, because we had so much, and we did it so fast.”
When the fleet of trucks arrived in Houston close to midnight on Friday, the local lieutenant who had helped coordinate the drop-off and the unloading of supplies was met with a big surprise.
The lieutenant was shocked when he saw just how big the caravan of donated supplies was, Brahs said.
“(The lieutenant) looked down the row, a quarter mile of trucks and trailers, and he went and got his wife and they were pretty emotional,” he said.
Brahs and his team of volunteers met the lieutenant on the outskirts of the city, where major roadways were still intact, but damage was still evident.
“We got there at 11:30 at night, so we didn’t get to see any devastation until the next morning,” he said. “We were on the north end of Houston, so we were really on the outskirts. We saw some devastation, some houses with roofs collapsed, just groves of trees that had been knocked down by the wind and the water, dirt and sand and stuff on the roads.”
Even with 10 trucks and trailers, a few pallets of water had to stay behind due to lack of space, but will be sent along on the second trip, which will leave Albuquerque on Oct 6.
“It was gratifying to be able to help somebody,” Brahs said. “There’s a lot of people in need, and we’ve got a company here in town who is donating enough sheetrock to do a couple houses, so we’re taking that down next trip.”
Brahs and his team hope to deliver things that will help people rebuild and restart on their second trip.
“Paint, we’re looking for kitchen cabinets, if someone is remodeling their house and has pretty decent cabinets, we’ll accept those and take them down,” he said. “If any companies have scratch and dent appliances like an oven, or a refrigerator or a microwave, we’ll take them down.”
Celia Raney is the news editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Celia_Raney.