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Community rallies for hurricane victims

Locals donate time, clothes, money to those affected by Harvey


Far beyond the eye of the storm, people across the Palouse are finding time to funnel their resources and talents south to aid the people of Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Employees at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories in Pullman are churning out disaster relief power restoration products in a tenth of typical production time and getting them out the door to Texas in 48 hours or less, said Tony O'Neill, board and components factory manager at SEL.

That takes extra time and man power from assemblers, and last weekend, they showed up in triple digits.

Cierra Morris, senior assembler at SEL, told the Daily News she switched up her schedule last weekend to work voluntary overtime alongside more than 100 of her fellow employees.

"On Saturday that's all we did and we got quite a bit done, but I know that's just the beginning," Morris said.

The company has shipped approximately 90 units, mostly protective relays that are used for substation applications, to Texas since Thursday, according to SEL's senior manufacturing director, Leith Sorenson.

Orders are expected to continue incoming in the following weeks, both for those affected by Harvey and victims of the latest Hurricane Irma, which is expected to hit southern Florida in the coming days.

"We're preparing and having discussions with employees about continuing to be ready to help customers," Sorenson said.

SEL will sell the products at a discounted price and expedite production and shipping.

On Wednesday, University of Idaho students and faculty also worked for hurricane victims, packing up last-minute donations of clothes, toiletries and household items to ship to the Houston area. They had just shipped another large donation the day before.

Danae Agle, assistant director of campus visits, said the university collected between 700 and 1,000 pounds of items in eight boxes.

Agle said the university began its quest for donations last week after receiving a call for help from the University of Houston.

"You want to make it better for them and so I think that really was just our call," Agle said.

In addition to donations from students, the university donated its own Vandal gear at the request of UH. Other boxes will be shipped to community centers in Houston seeking clothing and toiletries.

Across state lines, the Washington State University Athletic Training Club was also hard at work last weekend. Now, the focus has turned to collecting clothing, toiletries and pet supplies.

"It was just obvious to us that we could use this community and use our ability to help out some people in need," Finch said.

The club will be shipping its donations to Houston Pets Alive!, Little Lobbyists and the Houston Independent School District.

"As far as clothing donations, we know that they can be problematic in post-disaster areas, so we are working to find suitable charities and causes in need of clothing at this time," Finch said.

Those interested in donating can contact Finch at or visit the club's Facebook page at Athletic Training Club at Washington State University. Team members will pick up donations through Sunday.

Taylor Nadauld can be reached at (208) 883-4630, by email to and on Twitter @tnadauldarg.