Amid the devastation and heartache of Hurricane Harvey, one of the signs of hope and heroism was the yellow school bus.
In the Houston area and elsewhere, as schools were shut down in late August and early September, school buses and drivers served in storm relief efforts. In some cases, they plowed through floodwaters to rescue residents, and they transported food and supplies to storm shelters.
One of the southeastern Texas school bus operations that pitched in to help was New Caney Independent School District (ISD). The district’s buses and staff evacuated more than 1,000 adults and children, along with their pets.
Josh Rice, director of transportation and fleet services for New Caney ISD, said that many of the evacuees had physical disabilities and were in wheelchairs. That included residents of a local nursing home.
“With a shortage of wheelchair buses, we were transferring people from their wheelchair to a bus seat in order to get them out of flooded areas,” Rice told us.
New Caney ISD also assisted in evacuations in nearby Humble (shown above) when Humble ISD buses couldn’t access much of the northern part of their district. Still, Humble ISD buses and staff covered other ground, transporting evacuees and donations to local shelters.
A photo posted by Humble ISD on Twitter shows two of the district’s drivers, Tiffany Acton and Daniel Laughlin, ready to take a busload of food and donations to displaced residents.
These are just a few examples of pupil transporters in Texas stepping up to provide critical aid in and after the storm. Read more here.
Another way to help with the hurricane relief efforts is to make a donation. For example, Daimler AG’s U.S.-based subsidiaries — including Thomas Built Buses parent company Daimler Trucks North America — donated $1 million to the American Red Cross. The funds were to be used for disaster relief, emergency assistance, and other services needed by the victims of the hurricane.
The need for relief is overwhelmingly great. Meteorology expert Dr. Joel Myers, president of AccuWeather, predicted on Aug. 30 that the toll of Hurricane Harvey would amount to $190 billion, making it the costliest weather disaster in U.S. history.
“The disaster continues, and the extent of human suffering will only increase as floodwaters and lack of electricity and basic services puts Houston into third world-like conditions for days or weeks to come,” Myers said in a statement.
If you’re interested in donating or volunteering for Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts, here are a few of the organizations that are helping out:
• American Red Cross: www.redcross.org
• United Way: www.unitedway.org
• Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund (via Greater Houston Community Foundation): ghcf.org/hurricane-relief
• Feeding Texas: www.feedingtexas.org
Meanwhile, as one of our online readers pointed out, this is a good time for all transportation directors to ensure that your operations are included in school district and community emergency plans. Whether it’s a natural disaster or some other crisis, you never know when your school buses might need to come to the rescue.