Like most Americans, my attention this past week has been focused on the effects of Hurricane Harvey on Houston. As both a quilter and member of the quilting industry, the devastation Houston has experienced resonates because of the city’s important role as the home of Quilts, Inc., the parent company behind International Quilt Festival and International Quilt Market.
Every fall, Quilt Market (the trade show for industry professionals) is followed immediately by Quilt Festival (the quilt show for consumers) in the George R. Brown Convention Center, which even as I type is still serving as a shelter for Houstonians displaced by flooding in their communities. I was struck by a sense of immediacy when photos of people in the convention center first started hitting the news a few days ago, in a “hey, I’ve been there!” sort of way.
I know the convention center hosts many events over the course of the year, but Quilt Market and Festival are two of the biggest. We quilters feel a connection to that structure, to that city, and by extension, to the people who live there.
The good news for the quilt industry is that plans for this year’s Market and Festival are progressing as usual. Quilts, Inc., founder and CEO Karey Bresenhan posted the following on the Quilts, Inc., website:
We would like to thank all who have sent messages of support to us in response to the devastating flooding taking place in our home city of Houston. We are happy to report that all of our staff is safe, and that our office did not suffer any damages.
Many others have not been so lucky, and we ask that you keep Houston and all areas that have been devastated by Hurricane Harvey in your thoughts, and, if possible, consider making a contribution toward organizations involved in the ongoing relief efforts.
We have also heard from many people asking whether they should cancel their plans to attend this year’s International Quilt Market and/or International Quilt Festival in Houston. We want to assure you that there is no reason to cancel any travel plans, as both shows are still scheduled to go on.
The shows are still two months away, and we have full confidence that our city will bounce back quickly, as it has always done. Also, neither the George R. Brown Convention Center nor the Downtown Houston hotels were damaged in the flooding.
At this time, our office remains closed, and will until it is safe for our staff to return to work. We will post an announcement to our website and social media when the office reopens. In the meantime, we ask that you be patient in receiving a response to any calls or emails.
Founder and CEO
So that’s the good news. The bad news is that, with the flood waters receding, the people of Houston and the surrounding areas have an enormous, overwhelming job ahead of them.
This is the point during a disaster at which we quilters usually want to help by organizing quilt drives to donate to victims. Remember that in 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Quilts, Inc., sponsored the Quilters Comfort America campaign to get quilts into the hands of people who had lost everything. It’s no surprise that quilters responded in such force that within a couple of weeks, Quilts, Inc., said they couldn’t accept anymore quilts.
So far, Quilts, Inc. has not said anything about quilts for Hurricane Harvey victims. I assure you that if they do, we’ll help spread the word.
But for now, I’m sitting here in warm and dry Colorado, wanting to help out in some way. Everything I’ve heard about disaster relief emphasizes that the best aid comes in the form of cash donations to organizations that are experienced at responding in times of crisis. I know this, and I will respond by making a donation to an organization that provides long-term assistance, but I can’t help but feel I should do something more to help a city that has done so much for my hobby and my profession.
Considering that September is National Sewing Month, I may start working on a donation quilt — y’know, just in case.
Wishing you a good week,