By Barbara Tetreault
BERLIN — A 38-foot trailer filled with donations from the Androscoggin Valley is headed to the victims of the devastating flooding in Houston.
The trailer is carrying water, clothing, nonperishable food, household goods and other necessities — all donated by local residents and businesses.
The effort has been spearheaded by Berlin resident Eric Catman, who said he was moved to act by the stories and pictures he saw of the devastation. He also had a local connection to Houston through Kendall and Lane Strahan. The couple purchased the former David Lee Mountain store in downtown Berlin and are converting it into a restaurant with another partner. Catman, who is in the trucking business, has moved items from Houston for the Strahans.
So, Catman decided to try and collect a load of food and clothing for the Hurricane Harvey victims.
Kendall Strahan offered to join Catman in driving the trailer to Houston and assist in the effort.
Using social media, Catman announced that he was parking the trailer at the Circle K store on the Berlin-Gorham Road and would accept donations starting at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“I was worried about filling it,” he admitted.
But when he arrived Sunday, there was already a line of people waiting with donations. Some had come the day before and left items with Circle K.
“It’s awesome,” Catman said Sunday afternoon, as he carried donations into the trailer. He said people came from all over the county to give to those left homeless by the flood. Two young girls donated money they had saved.
A group of volunteers, including Kendall Strahan and retired U.S. Coast Guard veteran Christopher Dowell, assisted Catman. In fact, because of the rain, the group returned Monday and spent the holiday organizing the load for the trip. Catman said people continued to stop by Monday with donations.
Catman said most of the donations will go to the Strahans’ former church in Houston, Powerhouse Church of God in Christ, to be distributed to those in need. Some will also go to the Salvation Army in Houston — an organization Catman serves on the local board of directors.
The two men left Wednesday on their trip to Houston.
Catman said he will update their progress on Facebook.