The National Veterans Foundation is sponsoring a supply run and fund raiser to bring emergency supplies to Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Dateline August 31: Five days after Hurricane Harvey struck, a team of Iraq Veterans led by NVF Representative Mikey Sorensen met at Ralph Foy Park in Burbank, CA. They loaded personal items like baby wipes, toothbrushes and toothpaste, bottled water, sheets, blankets, bleach, medical supplies for people and animals, collars and leashes into trucks and headed out to Houston. Under the best circumstances, that’s a 23-hour drive, over 1500 miles. Traveling with Mikey were his cousin, Army veteran Nestor Vinelli, Marine vet Clayton MacIsaac, former medic Jameson (“Jimmy”) Riordan and Houston native Stacia Pratt. Stranded in LA by the storm, Pratt met Sorensen through a mutual acquaintance. Sorensen offered to drive her home and volunteer with relief efforts. It took them 28 hours to reach Houston.
Dateline September 5: Having dropped off supplies at a Distribution Center in Montgomery County, the team stayed together to assist with local rescue and relief efforts. They aligned themselves with bestfriends.org to rescue pets left behind in the flooding. Sorensen depends on his service dog Bane, so the rescue of animals had special meaning for him and also for MacIsaac. Clay and Jimmy went around to isolated communities decimated by the storm; to local fire stations with donations of insulin, diabetic supplies and general household necessities; and to animal shelters delivering food and medical supplies. Houston native Stacia Pratt was familiar with the area, and introduced the team to local agencies who could provide support in the way of shelter and food as they worked.
Dateline September 6: Since the beginning Mikey Sorensen had been working with both veterans and civilians. He was now working with a team of 10 veterans. Their main mission was dropping off supplies and rescuing animals. To date they had obtained 3 kayaks, a john boat, 3 trucks, 4 trailers, a van, and a sedan to transport the relief supplies. Clay MacIssac arrived with a 23-foot trailer with additional supplies that included insulin and other medical supplies. The day ended with their meeting up with five more veterans.
Dateline September 7: The NVF relief team spent the day transporting animals to the Houston Astrodome, the designated collection point for all displaced animals. Sorensen’s Facebook posts brought two more California natives to help. Madison Strauss and his friend Vasiliy Shkunov gathered donated dog food, toys, and other supplies and set out for Houston. On the drive down they met Jen, the store manager at Desert Pet in Tucson, who donated food and additional supplies. In Houston at last, they found HART (Houston Animal Rescue Team) on Facebook. After the drop-off to HART they were directed to Montgomery County Fairgrounds. And that’s where they met Mikey and the NVF crew. After working and talking to Mikey, Nestor, Clay and Jimmy they realized they had a lot in common even though they were not from the military. Mikey and the NVF team invited them to join the crew.
Throughout this story, the need to be of service and the sharing of a common goal rise again and again. We’re proud to thank them for their selflessness. Thanks also to the many donors who made possible this mission of mercy and relief to fellow Americans.
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The worst part of war should not be coming home.