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How Hurricane Harvey helped prepare these volunteers for the coronavirus pandemic

A group of volunteers who started out rescuing people from floodwaters is now focused on providing food to people who can’t leave their homes.

HOUSTON — Lessons learned during Harvey are helping Houston through the coronavirus pandemic. A group of volunteers who started out rescuing people from floodwaters is now focused on providing food to people who can’t leave their homes.

“When this was first coming, it was, like, 'What are we going to do? We’re not doctors,'" said Matthew Marchetti, Co-founder of Crowdsource Rescue.

He knew how to respond to hurricanes.

“We have a bunch of boats and chainsaws, that’s not helpful against a virus," Marchetti said.

During Hurricane Harvey, he dispatched thousands of citizen first responders, but he knew the website he built could help during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Pretty simple, big red button if you need help, big green button if you can help,” he said.

At first, they partnered with the Houston Food Bank to deliver meals to people’s front doors who couldn’t leave home.

It kept growing.

“District C, like, the city of Houston has so many restaurants, so many residents employed in the service industry," said Abbie Kamin, Houston City Council Member District C.

As donations came in, Kamin and the Greater Houston Restaurant Association worked together to launch Fund and Feed.

“We’re actually taking that money and buying meals from restaurants to make sure they are also getting money so that they’re not shuttering," Kamin said.

So far, roughly 1,200 volunteers have fed 22,000 people. That’s 227,000 meals, but Marchetti said it’s more than just food.

“Us being able to say, 'Somebody does care about you, somebody cares about you a lot,'” he said.

To read more about Fund and Feed, click here.

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