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Politics

Harvey Ravages the Greeks of Houston

HOUSTON, TX – “Few and rather fortunate are those who have not been affected in one way or another by Hurricane Harvey,” former AHEPA Supreme President Anthony Kouzounis told The National Herald.

Case in point, Kouzounis said, was George Polidoras, who stayed put on the ninth floor “of one of the safest skyscrapers. His apartment was not affected either by the hurricane or the tropical storm, but by the ripple effects of this phenomenon. The skyscraper has no electricity,which also affects elevator and telephone service. The generator is out of service, so Mr. Polidoras and other families are trapped.”

And that case is not the only one.

Before the outbreak of the hurricane, Anthony Pefkas and his family closed up their house and stayed in a hotel. They decided to return home on August 28 to survey the damage. “The water in front of the house was waist-high,” he told TNH, and inside the house on the first floor ankle-high. So, you understand that we’re talking about a major disaster.”

Restaurants and other businesses did not open and suffered damage due to flooding and lack of power. Also, the employees had no way of getting there.

Kouzounis met with Houston’s AHEPA Chapter 29 President Doug Harris (Zacharoulis) on August 30 to discuss the AHEPA fundraiser for victims of Harvey. They had to choose a non-Greek restaurant, which is not normally the case, but none were open due to Harvey. “So, you understand the hurricane’s impact on restaurants and other Greek businesses,” he told TNH.

“We are living in unprecedented moments that are difficult to describe,” Harris told TNH.

“We are not talking about normal damage, but of biblical proportions, which will take Houston several years to get back to where it was.” He said that to that point three AHEPA families were rescued by crews, and more than 15 Greek-American homes were flooded.

Chapter 29 is working with leaders of the Daughters of Penelope to come up with the best plan about how to help those affected. He noted many Greek-American professionals – attorneys, physicians, etc. – in Houston, whose offices are on the ground floor, and thus were affected by flooding.

“Houston needs urgent assistance to enable it to stand upright again. We call upon the community to contribute to the fund established by AHEPA,” he said.

John Remediakis, President of the Hellenic Cultural Center of the Southwest, noted that the people with whom he spoke in the damaged area were physically fine. But that was not the case for their homes: “in the neighborhood where I live, I saw luxury homes have been flooded and badly damaged. Homes of the families of Korentzis and Kakavieris have been flooded, while unconfirmed reports raise the number to dozens of homes that have been damaged.”

Kouzounis noted that the extent of the damage to the community in Houston is not yet known, because many people were forced to evacuate the area and have yet to return to assess the damage, and to communicate the information.

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