Hurricane Harvey Update and Helping Houston

I had another DNA article ready for my normal mid-week technical DNA publication, but given the suffering taking place in Texas right now, I just can’t.

The rains continue. The hurricane is now partially out to sea in the Gulf and may make landfall again. God help these people.

If Harvey isn’t yet, it may well be the most devastating natural disaster to ever strike in the continental US. Harvey has already dumped 9 trillion gallons of water on southeast Texas, and Harvey isn’t done yet. Yes, 9 TRILLION.

A Washington Post article says if Houston hits the 60 inches of rain mark, and they are close now, it will be a once in a million year event.

Sixty inches is 5 feet of rain, within a few days time. There just isn’t anyplace for the water to go. Two levies were breached today and a dam overflowed. And it’s still raining.

Estimates are that more than one fourth of the land in Harris County is flooded right now, with many of the 6.6 million residents needing to be rescued by boat. For details, this article provides bullet points.

Helping Houston

Personally, I simply can’t sit by and NOT help, but I’m not there. Thankfully, I think.

However, those of us who live at a distance can still help… and the need is great.

Many of you know that I’m a quilter. I quilt with two close friends, sisters of heart, and we make quilt tops that are then quilted by a fourth friend. We call ourselves the Quilt Sisters and the quilts we make are often donated to those in need. We call them “Care Quilts.”

One of the items sorely needed in Houston now is blankets according to CNN News and other sources.

Tomorrow morning I will be sending 5 items, 4 quilts (1 child, 3 adult) and one baby sized crocheted afghan to Austin, Texas for the people there who have been evacuated from Houston and southeast Texas in the wake of hurricane Harvey. I will put a note of encouragement with each one as well.

I am not posting photos of the quilts because I don’t want the quilts to overshadow the story or distract from the need.

I am contributing the quilts through The Linus Project. While the Linus Project normally provides quilts for children in need, they are providing what they can for everyone of any age at this time. Austin has thousands of people in shelters who have been evacuated from the Houston area and more evacuees are still flooding in. These people have lost everything and arrive, wet and cold, with literally nothing except their lives.

Anyone who has an extra quilt or a blanket, please send it to:

The Linus Connection
P.O Box 29491
Austin, Texas 78755

The Linus Project can receive boxes at their PO box, so long as they are shipped by the post office.

For more info contact

Not a quilter? You can still help.

Here’s an article in the New York Times about how to donate to help flood victims to a variety of organizations and how to avoid hurricane Harvey related scams. Yes, there are already scams.

Note:  Please feel free to share any part of this article, in any fashion.  You can share on Facebook or Twitter by clicking those links at the bottom of the article, for your convenience.

Family Tree DNA Update

Now, for an update on Family Tree DNA, most employees are safe and at least marginally dry. Some have evacuated. Many don’t have power. Communications is dicey. Everyone is affected one way or another and they all need your thoughts and prayers, not to mention patience, right now.

The office was closed on Monday and today, Tuesday as well. Amazingly enough, even though they have turned off their e-mail servers, their website is still up and functional. They still have power and the building is not flooded. Houston learned a lot when hurricane Ike struck a few years ago. Little did they know Ike was just a practice drill.

Family Tree DNA posted the following information on their Facebook page.

We are extremely thankful for your patience and concern for our employees. The Family Tree DNA building has remained fairly unharmed by the floods but our first concern is for our employees. Therefore, we have closed the office until it is safe for them to commute. We expect the office to open up later this week and will keep you updated.

In the mean time, we want to address many of the questions we are getting from our extended family at Family Tree DNA.

  • Is my DNA safe?

Yes, your DNA is safe. Our building has remained fairly unharmed and the lab is located on one of the top floors of the building. We’ve had people monitoring everything and can tell you that your DNA is safe and protected. We were well prepared for this at the building.

  • If I’ve bought a test recently is it okay to ship back or should I wait?

Yes, it is okay to ship back. The post office will hold it until they are able to deliver.

  • Can I still order a test, add-on, or upgrade?

Yes, you can still place orders online. Some customer service members are working from home but they are stretched thin. Therefore, we ask that you place all orders online.

  • Order fulfillment and shipping:

NEW KIT ORDERS: As soon as it is safe for our employees to commute we will hit the ground running to get any new test kits shipped out. We hope to be back in the office by the middle or end of this week. Therefore, shipping may be delayed by a few days.

EXISTING KIT ORDERS: If you have ordered an add-on test or upgrade we do not expect your results to be delayed by more than one or two days from the average fulfillment time. This is due to the fact that we already have your DNA at the lab.

  • I ordered a kit but have not received a confirmation email:

Our servers are currently turned off in the building. If you did not receive a confirmation email, expect to have one in your inbox in the next day or so. We apologize.

Again, we appreciate your patience and will continue to update you.


Family Tree DNA



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16 thoughts on “Hurricane Harvey Update and Helping Houston

  1. I’m going to copy and paste some parts of this article to my Facebook page – only the parts on how to help Houston area residents. I hope this isn’t against the rules, or God forbid, some law. I think the information you’ve provided and how you present it is wonderful and bears repeating. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your normal genealogy activities to reach out and try to help those in need right now. If I’m doing something against your rules, I apologize. Just let me know and I’ll then remove the parts of your article from my FB page. Thanks again and God Bless!
    Kristy O.

  2. Bobbi, thanks so much for posting the article about Harvey! It’s an absolutely unimaginable disaster here … but still not quite as bad as your post sounds. It has been a tropical storm, not a hurricane, since late Friday/early Saturday. That means substantially lower winds. Houston’s population is about 2.3 million; 6 million + is the population of the metropolitan area, which includes several counties. “MOST” of those 6 million didn’t have to be evacuated; only a small proportion were under either mandatory or voluntary evacuation orders. The highest rainfall measurement so far is 51.9″ at Cedar Bayou, east of Houston … which is a world record for a tropical cyclone, but not anywhere near six feet, or 72″. Houstonians are pretty damn resilient, and everyone here has been through flooding more than once … there are literally thousands of private boats and kayaks and even jet skis out moving people from flooded houses to high ground, which is absolutely inspiring. The place we went this morning to donate clothing and water for a shelter was packed with people donating. The mayor has been fabulous. My Facebook feed is FULL of dozens of friends and family who are already starting to mop out their houses and rip out floors and ruined drywall. HOWEVER, TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE BADLY NEED HELP. Please encourage your readers to donate to the Red Cross (Harvey) or the Houston Food Bank (Harvey). Or something like the Presbyterian Disaster Relief Fund if they belong to a church.

    Thanks again for the article!
    Cousin Robin

  3. Thank you for the helpful information about where we may send help. The reports and images out of the area are horrific and the videos showing droves of cattle and horses being herded through the streets and rivers, on their way to higher ground, are like nothing I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. Whole ways of life are under water out there. God bless and spare all in Harvey’s path.

  4. Thank you, Roberta! All my in-laws live in Houston — my husband is a native — and we have been highly anxious these past few days. Fortunately, our family is fine (for now!) but everyone is stuck where they are. Nor can they come up here to Dallas, due to the major routes being impassable — and of course we can’t go down. 250 miles has never seemed a greater distance! My prayers to all those in the greater Houston metro… #HoustonStrong

  5. You can also make online donations to Samaritan’s Purse and the Humane Society of the United States. Both organizations already have people working in the affected areas.

  6. 60 inches of rain… And since it’s water and not snow, it doesn’t stay there, it flows and accumulate in some spots. And if your house happen to be in said spot, even a house can be flooded over. This is mind blowing, really.

  7. Thank You Roberta for all the updates, and ideas on how and where we can contribute. Your article will be shared with my project members.
    God’s Blessings to All –
    Ally in Cali

  8. Thanks for keeping us updated, and let’s hope everyone in Houston is safe and can begin the recovery process soon.

  9. Awesome! Thanks for the quilt idea. Can you use the hunks of uncut fabric? I have a few I can mail!

    Sent from my iPhone


  10. Pingback: Saturday Finds 2 Sept 2017 – Copper Leaf Genealogy

  11. Hi Roberta,

    This is your very distant Jewish Estis cousin, Debbie Estis. I met you in Houston last year.

    Thank you so much for the update on Houston, and FTDNA. I definitely have a few blankets looking for a home.

    When you get a chance, i could use some help with an 88 year old adopted woman who matches my dad’s first cousins.

    She was born in Brooklyn in 1930, and has been in search of her birth family for 30 years.

    We are so close now and so frustrated. We have figured out that her grandmother and my dads grandmother were sisters.

    She has recently tested at ancestry. Her closest matches of between 400- 800 cM do not reply.

    I am trying to use DNAGedmatch tools.


    Debbie Estis

    On Tue, Aug 29, 2017 at 5:09 PM, DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy wrote:

    > Roberta Estes posted: “I had another DNA article ready for my normal > mid-week technical DNA publication, but given the suffering taking place in > Texas right now, I just can’t. The rains continue. The hurricane is now > partially out to sea in the Gulf and may make landfall aga” >

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