By Paul Thompson
Fourth-year Kansas City University (KCU) student Maaheen Ahmed has been at her home in Houston over the past week, offering her a first-hand look at the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey.
Though her own family’s home has been spared from the worst of the storm – Harvey has led to dozens of deaths, many thousands of displaced residents, and potentially billions of dollars in damages – Ahmed has family throughout the city who have been hit hard by flooding.
“My grandparents were put under a mandatory evacuation; we couldn’t help them at all,” Ahmed said.
Ahmed’s aunt was out of town when the storm hit, leaving a pet-sitter behind with her dogs. The pet-sitter and the dogs were rescued from rising water in the home, and Ahmed’s aunt is currently staying in a nearby hotel. In a Wednesday, August 30 call with the Northeast News, Ahmed described the scene in Houston as rescue teams grapple with the immense impact of Hurricane Harvey.
“The lines at the grocery stores are unreal…they are just wrapping around the building,” Ahmed said. “We’ve been watching it religiously every day; it’s been devastating. This is my home.”
Despite the harrowing conditions, Ahmed says that she and others in the area have been gratified to see the overwhelmingly response to the hurricane from people throughout the country.
“I’ve seen pictures on the news of I-10 with people coming in with trucks and their boats,” Ahmed said. “I’m thankful for those people, because those are the people who saved my aunt’s pet-sitter.”
As one of the lucky ones in Houston whose home wasn’t overcome by flooding, Ahmed has felt compelled to do what she can to help her neighbors. As she spoke to the Northeast News, Ahmed was on her way to volunteer at a nearby shelter. She said that more than anything, those who have been evacuated from their homes are in need of basic necessities that they didn’t have time to pack before leaving. If people from Kansas City want to help, Ahmed suggested sending items like shampoo, soap, razors, deodorant, feminine products, toothpaste, pet food and pet leashes.
Ahmed is well regarded among those at Kansas City University. Anatomy Professor Dr. Barth Wright spoke highly of Ahmed’s time at KCU, adding that he’s not shocked that she’s taking a role in relief efforts.
“Maaheen Ahmed exhibits a range of qualities that one would hope for in a physician. She is wonderfully capable, but also humble. She can lead, but does so compassionately. She is more concerned with the welfare of others than herself,” Wright said. “She also brings lightness and humor to stressful situations. Working with her is always informative and fun. Given these traits I am not at all surprised that she would seek to help the people of Houston during and in the aftermath of Harvey.”
For now, the work of rebuilding Houston looms on the periphery.
“We’re just thankful that we’re safe right now,” Ahmed said. “Some of my family members haven’t even been able to go back to their house. There’s no way to assess the damage.”
Despite the long road ahead, Ahmed is confident in Houston’s future.
“We do everything big in Texas,” Ahmed said. “So we’ll come back bigger and better.”