At least two dozen Kenyans in the Houston, Texas area were forced from their homes or their property damaged as a result of Hurricane Harvey, local community leaders said on Friday.
In response, churches and civic organisations with Kenyan members are conducting a fundraiser.
“The journey to recovery will be long, but with your help we hope to make it less painful to those affected by Harvey,” states a website (https://www.gofundme.com/kenyans-for-harvey) associated with the drive. “This is about brothers supporting brothers, neighbours supporting neighbours and most important strangers supporting strangers.”
Nearly 50 Texas residents are known to have died in the aftermath of the massive storm that broke the record for the heaviest rainfall ever recorded on the US mainland.
Leaders of the Houston Harambee operation said they had received no reports of Kenyans physically harmed by Harvey.
“We do know of 26 families affected,” said Ms Brenda Beekay, an accountant at a Houston oil and gas company who is active in the Kenyan community. “Seven or eight have lost all their belongings,” she added. “A majority have had housing damage.” Ms Beekay said she was “affected not at all” by the hurricane because her home is on high ground.
Many roads in the area remain impassable, however, which is making it difficult for some Houstonians in need of assistance to reach relief centres, Ms Beekay said.
Kenyans displaced by the storm are being taken in by fellow Kenyans in unaffected parts of Texas, said Mr Dan Mugubi, a psychology professor at the University of Houston.
“I’ve lived in Houston for 16 years and have never been through anything like this,” Mr Mugubi told the Nation. “It’s a complete nightmare.”
Those engaged in the local relief efforts are seeking assistance from the Kenyan embassy in Washington but have so far gotten no response to their requests, said Ms Beekay.
An official at the embassy did not return messages from the Nation concerning the hurricane’s impact on Kenyans.
The embassy’s website contains no information related to the storm.
Money raised through the fundraiser for Kenyan hurricane victims so far totals $340 (Sh35,000) toward a goal of $10,000 (Sh1 million).
Donations are being channelled through the Lantel Foundation, a Texas-registered charity headed by Houston Kenyan activist Bernard Wambugu.