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Politics

AHEPA Supreme President Visits Hurricane-Ravaged Houston

HOUSTON – AHEPA Supreme President Carl Hollister toured the flooded neighborhoods of Houston, Texas. Moving scenes of the almost-biblical destruction caused by the hurricane, as well as the incredible resolve of those affected to stand up and repair the damage from the floods deeply impressed everyone.

The Supreme President was accompanied by AHEPA’s former Supreme President, Anthony Kouzounis, the Alexander the Great Chapter 29 Order of AHEPA Houston President Doug Harris, the President of the Hellenic Cultural Center of the Southwest-Yannis Remediakis, Elias Neofytides, and other AHEPA members.

A number of Greek-American homes were visited, and, as Hollister said, they met people with high morale and heart. One of them, while he had suffered great damage to his home, was thinking of his neighbor whose home had suffered even more damage and would have to be demolished.

A 78-year-old whose home suffered hurricane damage thanked Hollister and the other AHEPA members and offered to make a donation to the AHEPA Hurricane Harvey victims’ relief fund.

At the AHEPA Houston headquarters, Hollister gave AHEPA Chapter 29 a check for $15,000 to meet immediate needs and to provide first-aid assistance to the Hurricane-affected Greeks in the area.

“This donation is the down payment and we hope that the chapters of our organization throughout the United States and Canada will help in the effort to assist the flood victims,” ??he said.

Asked how many Greek-American homes have been hit, he noted that so far 48 AHEPA members have reported that their homes have been destroyed and it is predicted that the number will exceed 100.

Referring to the accommodations for the victims that were visited, Hollister pointed out that they are well organized and have special programs for children and young people. At the same time, he noted that the large number of people taking shelter is much more than under normal conditions and that they are confronted with communication problems, since they cannot charge their mobile phones and communicate with their relatives.

Hellenic Cultural Center of the Southwest President Yannis Remediakis pointed out that words fail to adequately express the destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey.

“Whole neighborhoods are cluttered with piles of debris, damaged furniture, plasterboard, fiberglass, clothes, TVs, and other household appliances. The city’s garbage trucks are working 24 hours a day, but the piles continue to appear because people must remove all the plasterboard and strip houses down to the studs so they can vent and eventually allow the homeowners to start the difficult and costly rebuilding later on,” Remediakis added.

Referring to the damage to the Greek community’s property, he explained that not only were the houses affected but cars were also damaged.

The expatriates, Remediakis noted, helped each other and even loaned their cars so that those who lost their homes and their cars could get around.

The Hellenic Cultural Center decided to use his website http://www.hcc-sw.org for both the fundraiser and the recording of the damage suffered by the Greek community and created two links, the first for the recording and the second for the donation of supplies and essentials (bottled water, food, baby food, clothing, blankets).

Asked about the recording of the destruction, Remediakis said that the project is quite difficult for two reasons. The first is related to the limited communication capacities of Greek-Americans who have been hit by the hurricane and flooding and the second to the fact that there are many in the community who do not want to share their problems with others.

The information collected so far comes mainly from close family and friends in the affected area.

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