TEXAS – As Texas’ biggest church closed its doors during Hurricane Harvey, dozens of mosques welcomed people of all faiths to its facilities, sheltering those forced to leave their homes devastated by hurricane floods and rain.
“They’re not just people from the Islamic community. We are welcoming anybody and everybody,” M.J. Khan, President of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston, told PRI News on Tuesday, August 29.
Khan added there are currently a dozen mosques in the Greater Houston area providing shelter, as well as food and other supplies to hundreds of people in need.
“It’s not just adults, healthy males and females who are there. There are elderly people. There are young kids, [and] everybody has a different kind of need.”
At least 25 inches of rain has fallen in parts of Southeast Texas since Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Rockport on Friday evening, shattering several previous rainfall records.
Many highways and streets throughout the region are flooded, making normal travel impossible and forcing first responders to perform over 1,000 rescues over the weekend.
Immediately after the flooding, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) launched a new relief campaign to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey, urging US Muslims to assist their fellow Americans in this time of need and distress.
Islamic Relief also sent out a Hurricane Harvey appeal on Sunday.
Unlike Pastor Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, which closed its doors during catastrophic flooding, ISGH began organizing relief efforts early, before the storm descended on the state over the weekend.
Using its large social media networks and other outreach, it solicited supply donations and called for residents in surrounding areas to volunteer their homes and time.
Khan says that those seeking help have been “overwhelmed with love and care they’re receiving” from volunteers, some of whom have been displaced themselves.
He was deeply touched by the dedication of some volunteers who stepped in to offer help to their fellow Americans.
When he suggested that some volunteers take a break from relief efforts to sleep, they told him, “we can’t sleep until these people are in their homes,” Khan explains, breaking into tears.
“I’ve seen story after story where people are just putting out their hearts in these difficult days,” Khan says, his voice cracking.
“It’s amazing how much capacity human beings have to help and to love.”
In addition to the immediate relief, that the shelters are providing, Khan said aid in the form of money and supplies has been coming in from Islamic organizations all over the US
“We have truckloads of supplies coming,” Khan said. He added that the ISGH had put together a list of 50 doctors from the Muslim community who were willing to be on call and offered it to the city of Houston.
The effort of ISGH mosques was widely praised by Americans.
“If you went to @JoelOsteen’s church for shelter & found it closed, don’t worry, the Islamic Society of Greater Houston’s 21 mosques are open,” the @altNOAA account posted on Twitter.