As Texas and Louisiana begin to pick up the pieces after Hurricane Harvey hit, Nevadans are stepping up to help. This week, the Asian Community Development Council (ACDC) of Nevada held a press conference in Las Vegas to announce its campaign to assist Hurricane Harvey survivors. We spoke with ACDC about why they’re jumping into the Harvey relief effort, and what they hope to accomplish.
Why is ACDC of Nevada pitching in for Harvey relief?
ACDC President Vida Lin stressed the urgency of helping Harvey survivors recover as soon as possible. “The greater Houston community is devastated by the flooding, and the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community and other minority communities are reeling from the loss of their homes and other resources,” Lin said.
Asian Community Development Council of Nevada is discussing efforts to assist in Hurricane Harvey relief.
Posted by Nevada Forward on Wednesday, September 6, 2017
She then explained why a Nevada organization is getting involved. “There are many Nevadans who have friends and family in the greater Houston area.” Lin also noted that Texas has one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) populations, and that AAPI organizations across the nation have a responsibility to help Houston’s AAPI community in their hour of need.
“We want to make sure all those donations [go to] the survivors in the area.”
– Karl Catarata, ACDC of Nevada
After the press conference, we sat down with ACDC’s Karl Catarata to learn more about how his organization plans to help Harvey survivors in need. “There are certain language barriers for the AAPI community, and barriers to get the needed resources,” Catarata told us. “We provide support and provide solidarity with the victims, with the survivors who are there.”
In light of growing concerns about how the American Red Cross is spending donations meant for disaster relief, Catarata explained how ACDC is making sure donations to its Harvey Relief Fund actually go to survivors in need. “ACDC is giving 100% of the donations to our affiliate partner OCA of Greater Houston. We want to make sure all those donations […] are sent to OCA Houston for the survivors in the area.”
Where’s Congress on Harvey relief?
At the ACDC press conference, representatives from Nevada’s Congressional delegation provided updates on the federal government’s response. Though some Congressional Republicans initially demanded budget cuts in exchange for Harvey relief funds, Luis Vega from U.S. Senator Dean Heller’s (R) office stressed that Congress and White House are taking this seriously. “That is the #1 priority for the Senate, for the House, for the President, all the way down the line.”
On Wednesday, the House passed a $7.85 billion emergency relief package on a lopsided 419-3 vote. (All of Nevada’s Representatives voted in favor.) Yet on the same day, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) condemned the package his chamber had just passed once news broke that this could be included with an increase in the debt ceiling and a legislative fix for DACA. Hours later, Donald Trump agreed with Democratic leaders on a three-month debt ceiling raise alongside Harvey relief funding and a continuing resolution to keep the federal government open for the next three months.
Earlier today, the U.S. Senate voted 80-17 to approve the new comprehensive relief package that includes $15.25 billion in disaster aid in addition to the overall three-month budget deal. (Senators Dean Heller and Catherine Cortez Masto [D] both voted in favor.) The relief package has been described as a “down payment” because Texas and Louisiana will likely need more help in the coming months to rebuild after Harvey. And now that Hurricane Irma has hit Puerto Rico and will likely hit Florida this weekend, the federal government will likely need to invest even more in relief efforts to assist those displaced by Irma.