South Bay residents pay it forward in the wake of Hurricane Harvey
Although miles away from the devastation, many here in the South Bay opened their hearts and wallets to the victims of Hurricane Harvey in August. A.C.T. (Aid Cleveland, Texas) was sister city Manhattan Beach’s effort offering aid to this small town that was directly affected by the hurricane. The organization collected supplies from local residents and delivered them to the 8,000 people in need. The items departed Mira Costa High School, whose principal, Ben Dale, is a native of Cleveland. A local photojournalist documented members of the Texas community in the days after receiving the relief supplies.
WRITTEN & PHOTOGRAPHED BY JACK ZELLWEGER
Abraham Ramirez, 11 months old, looks out the window of his temporary home after the storm hit. Abraham’s mother, Mariana, rallied her family to come together to help her purchase the mobile home after she lost everything in the flooding. “We were living here without any power for a week and a half. We kept on calling, asking when we would have it back.” The Ramirez family now has power and running water. They are back on track to living in a permanent home soon.
John and Vicky Harvey rest in front of their house of two decades. The couple says flooding in their area has gotten notably worse in the past years. “We’re getting out of here,” Vicky says. “I haven’t seen nothing like this … it’s the last straw,” says John, who works in the petrochemical industry and frequently travels to the El Segundo Chevron refinery for work. The Harveys are waiting on assistance from their insurance company and plan to move to higher ground in Mississippi after their property has been cleaned up. “We’ve been burning all this stuff for the last two weeks. It’s so contaminated, it ain’t good no more,” John says.
Kevin Robles, who lives in a small community outside Cleveland, ties his shoes after packing his backpack—both things he received off the trucks that drove from Manhattan Beach. Kevin is interested in video game design and photography, and his mother, Anabel Robles, hopes to send Kevin to college one day. Anabel emigrated from Mexico to the U.S. when she was 17 to give her children better lives. “Buildings fell down into the streets in Mexico,” she says in Spanish. “I walked here and just worked. I didn’t study. Now I’m looking for an English class.”
Daisy Robles looks at raindrops on her umbrella while wearing her backpack donated by Manhattan Beach families. Daisy’s mother and father, Anabel and Carlos, lost two weeks of work after the storm hit, and their home’s pipes were seriously damaged. Due to the lost work, the family was unable to pay their utility bills; they use the neighbor’s garden hose and buckets for water. Daisy and her brother, Kevin, received two backpacks and a few pairs of shoes. “The supplies we received really helped. They’re for the kids,” Carlos says.
Raeann Bell, a single mother of two, cleans up her home after the storm while her son, Willard Bell, discusses a James Patterson book he’s reading. The Bells were relatively lucky when the storm hit. The water only got to their front door, but because the streets were completely flooded, Raeann was unable to get to where she works for two weeks until the water receded. “We had no stores available to go buy anything because nobody could get in or out of the city of Cleveland, which was the hardest part,” Raeann says of the storm. “We did eat a lot of ramen noodles, and it’s still real stressful. Getting the bills paid—that’s where it’s hurting the most right now.”
Deynira Palacios, a Cleveland resident and recipient of aid from Manhattan Beach, puts the note she received from one of the backpacks on her refrigerator. “We love it. It’s something amazing that a girl can do this. She’s an angel to us,” she says of the note’s writer.