At Al-Salam Mosque In Houston, All Are Welcome A day after the hurricane hit Houston, Al-Salam mosque in Houston welcomed people displaced by flooding. "I'm Catholic and my husband is Jewish, but it is beyond all that," says one volunteer.
NPR logo At Al-Salam Mosque In Houston, All Are Welcome

At Al-Salam Mosque In Houston, All Are Welcome

Al-Salam mosque in Houston opened its doors and offered shelter during Hurricane Harvey. The doors have paper signs taped to them directing people to the shelter area. Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

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Claire Harbage/NPR

Al-Salam mosque in Houston opened its doors and offered shelter during Hurricane Harvey. The doors have paper signs taped to them directing people to the shelter area.

Claire Harbage/NPR

Some people seeking safety from the flooding caused by Harvey were able to find refuge at Al-Salam mosque in northwest Houston.

"When I first got here I was looking for some of my people," says Mabel Rozier, a 78-year-old African-American woman sitting at a table, with a laugh.

(Left) Mabel Rozier, 78, has been in Houston for 2 1/2 years. The night the hurricane hit, she had planned to stay in her apartment. She was on the third floor and was eventually rescued by boat. (Right) Samina Kasin is from Pakistan and is vice principal of the mosque's weekend school. She has been volunteering by organizing donations, cooking and cleaning. Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

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Claire Harbage/NPR

(Left) Mabel Rozier, 78, has been in Houston for 2 1/2 years. The night the hurricane hit, she had planned to stay in her apartment. She was on the third floor and was eventually rescued by boat. (Right) Samina Kasin is from Pakistan and is vice principal of the mosque's weekend school. She has been volunteering by organizing donations, cooking and cleaning.

Claire Harbage/NPR

The storm made landfall in Texas as a hurricane on Aug. 25 and has now become a tropical depression as it moves inland. The mosque opened its door to evacuees on Aug. 26 and at 2 a.m., the next day, people began showing up. It welcomed 34 people who were brought in mostly from the local area. Seven evacuees remained Tuesday, but donations piled up as volunteers prepared for more people to come as the floods begin to affect different neighborhoods.

The long table where Rozier sits is in the middle of the gymnasium and holds rows of bedding, some of it neatly lined up and some of it covering half the floor. Other tables are ladened with piles of donations, including medical supplies, food and clothing.

Kasin helps sort through the many donations that the mosque received. Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

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Claire Harbage/NPR

Kasin helps sort through the many donations that the mosque received.

Claire Harbage/NPR

Rozier wanted to stay in her home, a few miles away in the Champions Forest neighborhood of Houston, but she was rescued by boat from her third-floor apartment.

"It was dark," she says. "The lights went out. The water went off. Everyone else was gone. Finally I gave in."

Haniff Moton, one of the founders of the mosque, cleans out a large pot from lunch. He served chicken stew and "no one complained about my cooking," he says. He had to leave the mosque before cleaning the pot to meet his wife at the hospital because she needed her dialysis. It was bothering him that the pot wasn't cleaned so he came back to take care of it. Ryan Kellman/NPR hide caption

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Ryan Kellman/NPR

Haniff Moton, one of the founders of the mosque, cleans out a large pot from lunch. He served chicken stew and "no one complained about my cooking," he says. He had to leave the mosque before cleaning the pot to meet his wife at the hospital because she needed her dialysis. It was bothering him that the pot wasn't cleaned so he came back to take care of it.

Ryan Kellman/NPR

After being pulled into a rescue boat, Rozier was brought to the nearby mosque. She had never been inside a mosque before and peppered Samina Kasin with questions about what she does. Kasin is vice principal of the mosque's weekend school, where kids learn about the Quran. She volunteered to cook and clean for the evacuees.

Ania Charna has lived nearby for three years but had never been to Al-Salam before. She heard from a neighbor that it had opened up as a shelter. Charna's home was fine, so on Monday she dropped off donations and asked if she could come back to help.

(Left) Jaime Botello is at the mosque with his wife and grandson. "I've never been to a mosque before but what is the difference? The doors are open so I came," Botello says. "We are all together." (Right) Adbelhamid Moursy is a telecom engineer and education director at the mosque. "We will take any family ... any person," Moursy says. Ryan Kellman/NPR hide caption

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Ryan Kellman/NPR

(Left) Jaime Botello is at the mosque with his wife and grandson. "I've never been to a mosque before but what is the difference? The doors are open so I came," Botello says. "We are all together." (Right) Adbelhamid Moursy is a telecom engineer and education director at the mosque. "We will take any family ... any person," Moursy says.

Ryan Kellman/NPR

"It's really beautiful to see everyone helping together. There was even a dog who was in bad condition and the owner couldn't walk. But the whole team was helping to calm the dog and de-stress her and dry her," Charna says. "I'm Catholic and my husband is Jewish, but it is beyond all that."

Charna plays with Eman Razwan, 6, who is there with her family. Her father sits off to the side thoughtfully filling out FEMA applications on his laptop. Eman and her 8-year-old brother, Zeyam, run around playing with balls and toys.

Eman Razwan (left), plays with volunteer Ania Charna. Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

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Claire Harbage/NPR

Eman Razwan (left), plays with volunteer Ania Charna.

Claire Harbage/NPR

"It's really good to see that it's not a matter of religion, race, color; it's a matter of something bigger than that," says Kasin.

Areez Hameed, 16 (from left), Isaiah Botello, 7, and Aziz Hatamleh, 17. Both Hameed and Hatamleh regularly worship at this mosque, so it felt natural to them to volunteer there when they found out the center would be a shelter. Ryan Kellman/NPR hide caption

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Ryan Kellman/NPR