Oh my! Where do I start? Part of me has dreaded writing this blog post because I knew I would need to process the past few nightmarish days as I wrote.
My husband and I have worked with refugees for many years. Moving to Houston meant helping them in new ways. What is a hurricane? How do you prepare for hurricane season? We would carefully explain that when Houston floods we are not talking about a few inches. What do you do if your home floods? As Harvey approached, we coached our refugee friends as best we could.
If I asked Haydar once I asked him ten times, did you get provisions? Do you have water? Do you have a flashlight? Do you have food? Did you go to the grocery store? He would smile and shake his head and say, “Yes, Ma’am. Don’t worry!”
Atia came in the day we were preparing to close the studio. I was busy and distracted; I wanted to be sure and get in the mail to Christen the scarves destined for Alexandria before the postal service was forced to close down. Atia was confused. Storm? What is a hurricane? What do we need? I stopped. She did not understand at all what was about to happen. I told her to go straight to the bank and deposit the check we had just given her, then to go immediately to the grocery store. I asked what kind of stove they have. When she said it is electric I explained that they would likely lose electricity and gave her a list of what kind of food to purchase. This is the reality for refugees and others for whom the United States is a new home. They have never experienced the weather patterns here. They have not witnessed the devastation of a hurricane. They have experienced so much trauma already that it is hard to imagine more catastrophe.
Some of the texts and messages we received during the storm: Miss Nell, will we die? Who should we call? 911 does not answer, we are in the attic and water is entering. How long will it rain? The water is at the door; where do we go? I am worried for my home. What can we do about our cars? Honestly, I do not know what the repercussions from this storm will be for Threads by Nomad or our refugee friends. Our great concern has been from the beginning for those who look to us for employment and for those refugees we have contact with in our city. We spent the better part of each day as we had power checking in with them. Now we turn our efforts to figuring out our next steps.
Tomorrow we will try to return to the studio. Haydar will be back at work as long as all the roads are open. Atia will meet us there so we can begin to try and figure out what to do about their vehicles that were lost in the flood. I will reach out to our friends who were joining us in some pop ups and ascertain how they came through this overwhelmingly catastrophic event. At this point, I anticipate canceling all of the events we had set up here in the city of Houston for the month of September. These events were to launch our new line. As I watch the city of Houston pull together and people from across the United States respond to the call for aid, I cannot help but be hopeful. Christen and I remain convinced that Threads by Nomad is important and worthy work and is being used to accomplish much good. So here are my hopes: - Threads by Nomad will thrive regardless of this setback. - Atia and Haydar will have enough work to keep them busy and therefore employed. - We will still have enough funds to let Haydar take time and teach Akram how to make the dolls. Akram is a very newly arrived refugee whose husband was seriously handicapped as the result of a botched surgical procedure in Iran. She really needs the income, even if it isn't much in the beginning. - September will be a wonderful successful launch of the new line. Some of you have reached out to us to ask how you can help. Here are a few ways: - The new line will still launch in the DC area with events in Annapolis and Alexandria. Please support those events! You can also go by Forge Industrial Works in Alexandria and Steadfast Supply in DC to have a look at what we have stocked in those stores. - We will still be putting our giftables online for the holiday season. Perhaps you need to do a little early shopping? Keep us in mind. - We still have our summer line in production as well as our embroidered scarves that Atia makes. Atia gets paid by the piece and your purchase of a scarf goes directly toward supporting her and her family. - We have been contacted about some custom pieces. Is there something hanging in your closet that needs remaking? Or maybe you need something new for the workplace or a special event? - We have a donate button on our website. Maybe you just want to encourage us as we work to overcome the obstacles ahead. I’ll close this on a personal note. Before Hurricane Harvey decided to come to Texas, I had purchased tickets to visit our grandchildren. I am very hopeful that I will still be able to make the flight on Friday and spend a few days of respite playing with my grandbabies! Thank you to everyone who has reached out to us, prayed for us, and wanted to help. We will continue to update you on the aftermath of the storm and we are gearing up for a great second year for Threads by Nomad despite this setback!