A Burbank resident delivered banners earlier this month representing the city of Burbank and Roosevelt Elementary School to the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas, to show those sheltered from Hurricane Harvey that the California city and school care for them.
Hurricane Harvey displaced thousands along the Texas Gulf Coast, and those forced to flee have relied on shelters such as stadiums, religious centers and even homes normally used as vacation rentals.
Lorena Mendez Quiroga spent the first weekend of September in the afflicted Texas city and brought two banners, each with handwritten messages written on them as a show of local support for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.
“They are just a symbol of solidarity, that we are with them like the country is with every single one of those Houstonians,” Quiroga said.
One banner represented Burbank and was covered with several hundred names, messages and prayers to the ailing evacuees, written outside of Porto’s Bakery in Burbank the day before Quiroga left for Texas on Sept. 1.
The 4-foot-by-12-foot white banner with the image of an American flag was provided for free by Yes Signs & Banners in Burbank.
The other banner was created on behalf of Roosevelt Elementary school. The bright, larger yellow banner was covered with names and messages from students, often enclosed by hearts drawn in marker.
“Within the convention center, there were these playgrounds and, as soon as we made our way there, [the evacuees] were so appreciative,” Quiroga said. “I told them that our kids and residents worked so hard to express their love, prayers and solidarity with you.”
Quiroga, a documentary filmmaker, dedicated a major part of her visit to focus on speaking with undocumented immigrants who feared going to the larger shelters and, instead, relied on small churches where they felt safe from possible deportation.
She met with a cameraman and two producers in Texas, relying on favors from friends living in the area to drive to some of the flooded regions as well as a small Catholic church that sheltered a number of undocumented Latino immigrants.
“To me, these families look like refugees and are hard working and just seem absolutely devastated to me,” Quiroga said.
In an Aug. 25 statement made ahead of Hurricane Harvey’s Texas approach, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said, “Routine noncriminal immigration enforcement operations will not be conducted at evacuation sites or assistance centers such as shelters or food banks.”