Family Tree DNA Steps Up to the Plate in the Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

The good news is that Family Tree DNA is back up and running following the devastation wrought by hurricane Harvey.

The office has reopened. The power has been restored. The building was not flooded, but had a few leaks. The lab and DNA is fine.

However, all is not sunshine and happiness just yet. Most employees are what I would term damp and inconvenienced, and considering themselves lucky, but not everyone is so fortunate.

Some have been flooded out of their homes or have significant damage. Some people’s homes weren’t entirely destroyed, but they can’t stay because you can’t live in 2 feet of water, without power, for a month waiting for evaporation to occur.

This is a photo from one of the homes of a Family Tree DNA employee whose residence was flooded.

Of those who can get to the office, some employees are reporting hours-long efforts in trying to get back and forth to work. And I mean 4, 5 and 6 hours one way for what should be a half-hour drive.

Flooding in low-lying areas has not subsided and may not for weeks to come, causing hellatious traffic jams.

People for the most part aren’t complaining. In fact, I’ve heard incredible gratitude, such as “I’m just glad I have a car to drive.” Many don’t, as cars didn’t fare very well in the floods either.

Max and Bennett Step Up

As most of you know, Max Blankfeld and Bennett Greenspan are the founders and owners of Family Tree DNA. Both men are very low key, seldom if ever stepping into the spotlight, but both are extraordinary human beings. I’ve seen this over and over again in my 17 years in this field.

Having said this, I’m posting this from Max Blankfeld’s Facebook feed from yesterday evening, with minor edits:

Deisi and I as well as our friends and partners Robin and Bennett Greenspan are very fortunate to have been unscathed through Hurricane Harvey. While on the personal level we are involved in a few initiatives to bring some relief to those affected by this terrible devastation, additionally, we are doing two things:

• As a few of our company employees had their homes flooded, our company started a fundraiser and we will be matching dollar for dollar any contribution coming from their colleagues that went unaffected. We are also reaching out to our suppliers and business partners to contribute.
• We will donate part of the proceeds from our September revenues to the Houston relief efforts. Starting next week, a banner at our home page will display the cumulative amount raised.

Jewish law commands that we respond wherever there is need, and all the better if we can do so in the company of others.

From the Ethics of our Sages: “do not separate yourself from the community”.

Given the many requests from friends and customers to share the donation page, here it is:

MarketInsider published an interview about the Family Tree DNA giving program today, as well.

Sure enough, today, the banner at the top of the Family Tree DNA webpage today reads:

So, if you need more DNA kits (who doesn’t) or you got distracted and didn’t get a kit ordered that you will use during the upcoming holidays, now is a great time to order when part of the proceeds for the month of September will be used to help others. You can also upgrade a kit which also counts towards sales revenue.

Donating to disaster relief in this way won’t cost you any more that your purchase. What a great way to be benevolent.

In summary, there are two ways you can participate:

• If you can give and are inclined, you can donate to the YouCaring page for Family Tree DNA employees who have endured flood damage or been flooded out of their homes. Donations will be matched dollar for dollar by Family Tree DNA.
• Purchase a kit, upgrade results, yours or a family member’s. Buy something. Part of all Family Tree DNA proceeds for the month of September will be donated for disaster relief in the Houston area. Click here to make a purchase.

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7 thoughts on “Family Tree DNA Steps Up to the Plate in the Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

  1. Roberta, thanks for sharing this! As an FTDNA member, my heart goes out to these families. I will share this with my genealogy groups. Please let these folks know that our thoughts and prayers are with them. I have lived through a flood that did not affect my home, but it flooded my school and church building and put many friends and family out of their homes for weeks. Bridges all over northeast Arkansas were destroyed during that same flood the first week of December, 1982. By working together, and with lots of help from volunteers, we were able to recover. I hope this helps give hope, strength and courage to those suffering from the destruction of Hurricane Harvey.

    • Ditto. Your sharing the news surely relieves some pressure on FTDNA personnel. I was able to pass on the news to my DNA group yesterday. They remember only too well our own floods in Brisbane in 2011 and really feel for the people of Houston.

  2. I lived in Houston from 1987 to 1998 and it is sad to see photos of flood waters where my old neighborhoods were. My son works in the financial data center of a large bank here in Tulsa that was recently hit by a tornado. The storm damaged their backup power sources and they had to scramble to get them back up.

    They keep a mirror site elsewhere which keeps things operating but more slowly.

    Several years ago, he was working for a company involved with high-speed fiber transmission of data. An ancient water main broke in downtown Tulsa flooding their basement and knocking their system out. So he has prior experience with disasters such as these.

  3. Purchased a kit for a friend just before the end of August to get the discount – then realized that the acknowledgment email was delayed because of the flood! Couple of days later it came through. Customer Service emails priior to that showed the organization was still functioning. Hooray for FTDNA, and – keep getting kits for friends!

  4. Roberta, I am one of the displaced persons, but I am lucky enough to have friends to help and the means to get started with reconstruction. I had about 30 inches water in my housse. That means I have to discard everything below that level and do something with every other belonging while the rebuild takes place.
    I need a home for a friendship quilt I found in my attic when I bought my house. As I recall, it looked like a couple was leaving the area (Iowa I thimk). Some squares were dated and most we were signed with full names. I typed it all out back in 2000, but think that document ( like many more) was not backed up. Yes, I know that was stupid. In 200 or 2001, I posted on genforum sites looking for a good home.with no luck.

    Bottom line: can you find a home for it or use it to benefit my Dickinson TX neighbors?

    I don’t have time or energy to look at it again for clues but maybe I csn photograph it sometime in next few days.

    Please contact me via email if you can help.

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