Man's gratitude to public for raising money for mum who lost everything in Texas floods
A Belfast man said he has been overwhelmed by the support he has received after setting up a fundraising appeal for his Texas-based mother and sister, who have been left with "nothing but the clothes on their back" following the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.
Tania Wishart and her daughter Stephanie have been living in the US state for six years since relocating in 2011 from the UK.
They lost their home, car and all their personal belongings following the chaos which has hit the state.
Tania's 31-year-old son Stephen Wishart and his fiancee Chloe McGreevy, who live in Belfast, had raised almost £1,000 by last night for the mother and daughter on an online appeal on the Just Giving website.
Their current target is £1,200, which Stephen says is not enough to replace all they have lost, but enough to help them initially.
Stephen said: "As most of you have seen and heard on the news, Dickinson, Texas is underwater due to flooding and Hurricane Harvey hitting the city. Unfortunately, my mum and sister have been victim to this storm and have lost everything they have, including their home, car and all their personal belongings. My mum woke up in the middle of the night with water in her bedroom and her ground floor apartment flooding.
"As she opened the door many of her belongings were drifting out onto the street with the water and she saw that her car was completely submerged."
He described how she and a neighbour managed to make it into a first floor apartment block while the water rose but had to wait for hours for a rescue boat.
"My mum had nothing more than the clothes on her back, her phone and $20 in her pocket. There was a lot of debris floating in the water and boats hitting cars and mum really feared for her life as she cannot swim. Eventually, she was taken to a rescue centre in Austin. However, she is now five hours' away from my sister, who was staying with friends that night. Although they are still separated they are alive, which we are so thankful for. As a family we are trying to support them in every way we can and hope they can be reunited soon.
"At the moment the priority is keeping them warm, dry and making sure they have food."
Stephen said they are considering coming home to the UK to start over.
He told the Belfast Telegraph last night that the response to his appeal has been brilliant.
"So many people are helping, I didn't expect all this help, am so grateful," he said. "We are close to the target I put up on Just Giving, but not close to the target that is actually going to cost me and my family, but every bit counts and we are so grateful for the help we have been given."
The appeal page can be found at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/stephen-wishart