Ezra Zimmerman and Pete Rossini’s three-day Texas trip to help victims of Hurricane Harvey was a success by every measurement.
The Ridgefield duo almost doubled their initial fund-raising GoFundMe request of $10,000, navigated a box truck through a difficult, flood-ravaged terrain, and delivered a dozen pallets of food and water to Greater Jerusalem Baptist Church in Houston.
Like with any mission of this magnitude, there were obstacles.
“Fifth Ward Multi-Service Center, where we had arranged to drop off the food and water earlier in the week, stopped taking people,” Zimmerman said Tuesday, Sept. 5. “We were redirected to the church, which is a drop-off site for supplies. They’re taking care of distribution to different shelters in the area.”
And there was a hiccup with the food supplier that Zimmerman spoke to before he left Ridgefield last Friday.
“We went there, and he was sold out. We had to go a Sam’s Club in Dallas, where we flew in, and brought the rest of what they had.”
What did the grocery list include?
Three pallets of water, three pallets of Gatorade, two pallets of pineapple, two pallets of mac ‘n’ cheese, one pallet of tuna fish, and one pallet of ramen noodles.
Zimmerman said that he was just happy to find food.
“Dallas was far enough away where they still had supplies but close enough to make the delivery,” he said of three-and-a-half hour trek through Texas.
The journey came with lessons, too.
“It really hit home when we were driving back to Dallas and we were seeing hundreds and hundred of trucks on their way into the city,” Zimmerman said.
“Those guys are the real heroes. They went into the worst areas at the worst time, and they’re going back in again and again.”
Texas support knows no bound, according to the Ridgefield business owner.
“The amount of devastation down there is unbelievable,” Zimmerman said. “The amount of trucks heading into the city is incredible…
“I saw everything from a minivan with a few backs of water bottles to an entire landscape trailer with pallets of waters,” he added.
Zimmerman and Rossini walked away with a clear message to the generous resident who helped with the delivery: Thank you but there’s still work to be done in Texas.
“We got to speak to a lot of people in Dallas who have fled there,” Zimmerman said. “These people people lost everything and had to abandon their houses. The thing that took me back was that most — about 75% of folks — don’t have flood insurance. Their homes will never be the same.”
They returned to town Labor Day with one box left on their checklist: Where would they donate the leftover funds from their campaign?
“Fifth Ward Multi-Service Center,” Zimmerman said. “They might have stopped holding people there but we made a commitment to them, and they have a long road to recovery in front of them.”