Some people seeking safety from the flooding caused by Harvey were able to find refuge at Al-Salam mosque in northwest Houston.
“When I first got here I was looking for some of my people,” says Mabel Rozier, a 78-year-old African-American woman sitting at a table, with a laugh.
The storm made landfall in Texas as a hurricane on Aug. 25 and has now become a tropical depression as it moves inland. The mosque opened its door to evacuees on Aug. 26 and at 2 a.m., the next day, people began showing up. It welcomed 34 people who were brought in mostly from the local area. Seven evacuees remained Tuesday,but donations piled up as volunteers prepared for more people to come as the floods begin to affect different neighborhoods.
The long table where Rozier sits is in the middle of the gymnasium and holds rows of bedding, some of it neatly lined up and some of it covering half the floor. Other tables are ladened with piles of donations, including medical supplies, food and clothing.
Every Sunday since Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico, Ada Reyes and her four children have walked half an hour to church. Down a winding road, dodging fallen trees and debris, they walk past cement houses still bearing flood marks, and finally cross the Vivi — a small river in Utuado, a city in the central mountain region.
The Iglesia Cristiana Monte Olivar church is small: one room, with a few rows of chairs all facing two podiums up front. There are about 30 people, all standing when we arrive. Two associate pastors offer a prayer and members pray over each other, some in tears and embracing each other as they pray.
It’s been a hard few weeks in Utuado. Many roads nearby are still too dangerous to drive because of heavy flooding and strewn debris. Schools remain closed. Businesses that are open, including a Walgreen’s and an AutoZone, are powered by generators and have long lines and full parking lots seeding traffic jams.
People here are about to start their third week without electricity or water. Nearly 90 percent of the island is still without power.
As home to 250 million people speaking hundreds of languages and spanning some 17,000 islands in an area as wide as the continental U.S., Indonesia is one of the most populous and diverse countries in the world.
The country is about 88 percent Muslim, and it is also home to Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and Confucians. It’s a place that prides itself on diversity and sees it as a source of strength. “We cannot afford not to have this diversity,” says Budi Bowoleksono, Indonesia’s ambassador to the United States.
The country’s founding philosophy, “Pancasila,” includes the notions of unity and social justice for all. Religion, politics and culture hold the country together — but there are growing concerns that the country is becoming less tolerant than it used to be.