Vol. 4, 2016-2017
When Hurricane Harvey surprised much of Texas by switching directions and blazing a path right to Houston, Larry Pellerito was there waiting, ready to spring into action.
Because his house in The Woodlands was high and dry, he was able to transform his home office into mission control. “We didn’t lose power, and we didn’t lose the Internet,” he said.
A couple of years earlier, Pellerito accepted the position of diocesan emergency management and relief coordinator for the Knights of Columbus in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. The volunteer position would turn into a full-time job after Harvey.
Luckily, Pellerito had been creating spreadsheets in preparation for a disaster. “I’m an engineer, so I’m very detail-oriented,” he said with a laugh.
He had a program in place before Harvey struck that established emergency contacts with each of the 120 Knights of Columbus councils in the archdiocese. After the storm hit, his first order of business was identifying which of the 23,000 Knights needed help.
Then, Pellerito directed help their way. He coordinated the grant relief program, offering gift cards, financial grants and manpower to Knights in need.
The next order was equipping the local Knights of Columbus to go out into the community. The volunteers worked in 10-man “muck and chuck” teams, going house-to-house.
Knights of Columbus halls were opened as points of refuge in the community. “After working on your house, you could come in and get a meal and relax a bit,” Pellerito said.
“We fed a ton of people; 58,000 meals were served in the Gulf Coast, mostly in our archdiocese.”
Pellerito was behind the scenes coordinating the relief effort, working 18 hours a day for the first month after the storm. He took time off from his day job so he could concentrate on cleaning up Harvey’s mess.
Pellerito worked with John Hinojosa to turn Knights of Columbus halls into distribution centers for donated food and supplies.
Bob Anderson, a member of Knight of Columbus Council 12327 at Saint Anthony of Padua Church, said Pellerito deserves recognition for his dedication.
“His efforts on Hurricane Harvey far exceeded any reasonable demands,” Anderson said. “I don’t know how he does it. I can’t keep up with him. He’s a real hero. He played a valuable role in helping not only Knights of Columbus members but the entire Houston community.”
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