Monadnock regions offers support to hurricane-ravaged Texas

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Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/4/2017 6:25:00 PM

For days Martin and Michelle Dunn watched breaking news updates scroll across screens depicting the devastation in Houston after Hurricane Harvey made landfall.

Martin said they donated some money to relief efforts in Houston, but even that didn’t feel like enough.

“I realized that someone could come up with a wheelbarrow full of money, but there’s no magic wand to make that into a livable home,” he said. “That’s going to take weeks or longer.”

Martin and Michelle decided to open up their home in Peterborough to people who have been displaced because of the storm.

“We have a house that’s built for a family,” Martin said, adding that his youngest of four is out of the house. 

Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on Friday, Aug. 25 and is being referenced as the most powerful storm to strike mainland in over a decade. Cedar Bayou, which is located on the outskirts of Houston, recorded 51.88 inches of rain in just under five days, marking a new record for the heaviest rainfall in the lower 48 states. 

Initial estimates project damage to the state will soar to about $125 billion. Other news agencies have reported 80 percent of Texans don’t have flood insurance. 

So far, Martin said no one from Houston has taken them up on their offer. He says he suspects it’s still too soon because people are still being rescued. Martin said he suspects it might take a little while before people start seeking long term shelter.

WMUR recently televised a piece about Martin and Michelle’s story and since people have contacted them, offering to cover airfare from Texas to New Hampshire. Martin said he is keeping a list of names of people who have offered to assist with airfare costs. He also hopes people will consider opening up their own homes to people in need. He’s keeping a list of those names, too. Martin plans to coordinate airfare costs and housing arrangements if and when the need arises. 

Debster DeSantis, of New Ipswich, has a similar story of watching news coverage about Hurricane Harvey. She said she felt helpless and wondered what she could do to help. Then, she saw an image of a cocker spaniel in the water. A rescuer was patting the dog. 

“I absolutely love animals,” she said. 

She wondered if the cocker spaniel was now a stray or if it would be reconnected with its owner. 

"I just can't sit back and do nothing," DeSantis said about the situation.

She's got in contact with PAWS New England, who told DeSantis they’re looking for short-term fosters for dogs that are already in shelters, so they have room for the ones who have been displaced by flooding. On Friday, she said she talked to the Humane Society, who said they have picked up more than 140 dogs and are bringing them back to the shelter. They told her, that’s just the start. 

"I am amazed and touched by the spirit of the people in Houston. From the people who lost their homes to all the volunteers. All working together to save lives," DeSantis said. "The least I can do is help foster animals."

But it’s not just individuals who are lending a hand to victims of the hurricane.

Franklin Pierce University has offered to provide students in the Houston area with an opportunity to attend school at its main campus in Rindge free of charge for the fall semester.

“Devastation on this level can severely impact or effectively end a student’s pursuit of a college degree,” Franklin Pierce University President Kim Mooney said in a press release. “We prepare leaders of conscience at Franklin Pierce, and right now as we witness the devastation in Texas and launch our 2017-2018 academic year, we feel very strongly that this is the right thing to do.”

Students must be enrolled and in good academic standing as an undergraduate at an accredited higher education institute that has been impacted by Hurricane Harvey and a resident of a county impacted by the storm in order to qualify. 

The university offered similar assistance in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. An article published in the Ledger-Transcript on Sept. 15, 2005 said 20 students took the school up on the offer.

“We will offer them a temporary home and a safe environment in which to keep their educational pursuits on track until they can return to their own educational institutions for the spring semester,” Mooney said in the release.

It says that Mooney has contacted higher education institutions that were among the hardest hit by the storm.

While people are helping from their place right here in the Monadnock region, others are traveling down to Texas to help those in need. 

Alycia Mudrack, of Hancock, arrived in Austin last Tuesday to volunteer for the Red Cross. She said she will stay for at least two weeks. 

“I wanted to do this because I felt like every little bit of help was going to be needed and I wanted to give back,” she said in an email to the Ledger-Transcript. 

Mudrack said Austin was out of the path of the hurricane’s wrath and the only devastation she has seen has been through news reels.

When she first arrived, she said she was tasked with helping set up shelters. For the rest of her time, she’ll likely be supervising a warehouse that holds supplies for supporting shelters. She said she helps with the shipping and receiving of all of the product that is designed to support more than 4,000 people within local shelters.

She said it’s the first time she has done something like this before and she’s happy she took the time.

“It is very rewarding to come out and help people in need. It makes you value everything you have in life,” Mudrack said.

What you can do to help: 

If you’re interested in opening your home or donating relocation costs, email Martin at: 

If you’re interested in fostering a stray animal, contact:

If you’re interested in donating or volunteering yourself, visit

Abby Kessler can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 234 or

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