Andrew Ortiz of Newton has business partners, and friends, in the Houston area — many of who are suffering the devastating effects of a hurricane and flooding after Hurricane Harvey.
"I called and checked on (a business partner) after the storm, and there was a lot of concern in his voice," Ortiz said. "I told them I would do what we could to get them up and running with (our displays). The open question was 'is there anything we can do to help.' He said he had managers and employees who were in a really bad way. He sounded overwhelmed like he felt responsible for helping them. There is still a crisis and he did not know what to do."
Hurricane Harvey swept through portions of Texas, dropping rain measured in feet leading to flooding. On Aug. 25, President Donald J. Trump signed a declaration that a major disaster exists in Texas, clearing the way for federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in six Houston-area counties affected by Hurricane Harvey.
The National Guard has been involved in rescue efforts.
But Ortiz felt the need to do something, and that is just what he and his company Axon Displays are doing. Ortiz's company has supplied several Freddy's Frozen Custard locations with electronic displays. Using those business connections, he has a place to distribute items donated for aid. Business connections have also helped procure the services of a semi-truck. He wants to fill the trailer with water, canned food and other supplies and drive down to Texas to meet his business partners on Thursday.
Those business partners will help distribute those supplies — whether given to employees or community members — to people who have lost everything in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
"We are doing water and canned goods, and we will get a list of other things today," Ortiz said. "We got a semi that we can load it on and take it down there for free, to a Freddy's location in Houston where it can be given out to their employees, their friends and cousins and as many people as we can."
Donations of water, canned goods and other necessities can be taken to Axon Displays at 513 N. Main. They can also be taken to The Newton Kansan office at 121 W. Sixth.
"Right now we have diapers, baby powder, canned goods and tons of water," Ortiz said. "You can never go wrong with water."
Ortiz said he does not know if there will be more than one shipment to Texas from Newton, but he wants to get donated items there quickly.
"We want to be distributing by Friday," Ortiz said. "I am going to play it by ear with our contact down there in that area. As long as he has families with needs, and we can provide that, we will. We are committed to providing until we don't have to. I think there are things mobilizing, we are just a little scratch in the beginning until those things can take over."