Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Brynne Peña weathered Hurricane Harvey in Houston. The experience changed her life. Read how Event Pros are helping now.

The reunion in full swing on August 24th, before Harvey hit.

As Brynne boarded her long-booked flight to Houston to visit her best friends, Bethany Palmer Mayott and Kimi Musser, two California transplants and current Houston residents, the forecast warned of a tropical depression in Texas counties near the Mexican border. But as we know now Harvey changed rapidly into a category 3 hurricane, made landfall repeatedly and stalled over Houston, flooding large parts of the city with record breaking rain fall. 

A weekend with Kimi and her family turned into a week in Houston that changed Brynne's outlook on life.

"By Friday night the storm moved in very quickly. The rain was pounding so hard that it was impossible to sleep. I had never heard rain that loud. By Saturday morning we started to take precautions. We checked whether we had enough water and bread to last several days. Neighbors informed Kimi and Michael that this neighborhood had never flooded in 30 years. But you just don't know. It was this feeling of uncertainty and anxiety that prevailed all weekend.

By Saturday we got tornado warnings. This was also a first for me. The official warnings included the times that we had to stay sheltered. We all piled into the walk-in closet, the innermost part of the house.

As the water was rising in streets nearby, we took all the food out of the pantry and moved it upstairs. We also carried the most treasured furniture upstairs to the second floor to save it. We left one mattress downstairs to have something to sit on to watch TV.

The scariest thing was the uncertainty of what would happen overnight, wondering whether we would get flooded."

Brynne updated family and friends of her status through social media.

"Our neighborhood turned into an island. While we were spared the flooding and the power outages, we could not get anywhere. The flood situation changed block by block. We were okay but a few streets over it was a different story. We had to stay completely indoors for 4 days. We kept up with the news on our phones so that the children would not get too frightened. Once the boys were in bed we would turn on the TV to catch the latest news."

Always the hard worker, she spent her days waiting indoors working from her guest bedroom and playing with her godsons. 

Brynne: "What will remain with me is the feeling of total loss of control. We could not go anywhere. Traveling home was completely outside of my control. Finally on Thursday, four days after my originally scheduled flight, 40 flights made it out of Houston International and I was lucky to get on one of them.

What stands out to me the most was the way the people of Houston cared for each other. Just simple actions, like neighbors sharing food without being asked, offering use of generators...one friend offered to evacuate us in his elevated truck if need be! Houston Strong! The strength and kindness of Texans will stay with me forever.
Having seen both the heroism and devastation with my own eyes, I am personally compelled to help fund raise. I am thankful to be safe, and want to give to those who were not as fortunate.

Brynne's friend, graphic design artist and owner of the Houston based and internationally successful wedding and event invitations company 
Anticipate Invitations, Michael Musser is one of these #HoustonStrong locals who does what he can to help.

He designed these three gorgeous new note card sets, available online, to raise funds. 100% of the proceeds will benefit victims of Harvey directly.

Brynne: "Kimi and Michael are working with members of their church and families from my godsons' school directly to select recipients of these funds. 
We are dedicating the initial funds raised to purchasing urgently needed school supplies for a special needs classroom.
Kimi and Michael feel blessed to have been spared. We all feel the need to help friends and families who lost so much. We are grateful for all gestures of support

We are delighted to see that our event industry colleagues are jumping into action!

SEARCH FOUNDATION will support event industry professionals victimized by Hurricane Harvey. Please click the link to learn more.

Event Pros Take Action, in collaboration with SBPUSA.org, will bring their volunteers to Houston. Please contact Susie Perelman to join EPTA's effort to rebuild Houston! 

Thank you!

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