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Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund

by GlobalGiving's Disaster Recovery Network
Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund
Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund
Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund
Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund
Photo courtesy of West Street Recovery
Photo courtesy of West Street Recovery

Harvey made landfall as a category four hurricane on August 25, 2017. 150 mph winds flattened homes and businesses along the once-booming tourist coastline, and heavy rains flooded south Texas an area the size of New Jersey.

This past April, I had the opportunity to meet with partners and community members that are still rebuilding their communities. I drove from Corpus Christi to Houston via Aransas, Rockport, Refugio and Victoria, learning about community-specific needs and how our partners are addressing them. 

Port Aransas and Rockport County were Hurricane Harvey’s ground zero. Around 40,000 structures were damaged or completely destroyed by Harvey’s winds and accompanying tornadoes, and businesses along once bustling streets remain boarded up as local neighbors work to repair or rebuild their own homes. Rockport Hands of Hope has addressed thousands of minor home repairs and remains one of the go-to sources for recovery needs. From plumbing and electrical work to wind resistant window coverings (up to category 4 strength), Rockport Hands of Hope is undaunted by the steady flow of requests for assistance. 

After leaving the coast I headed toward Victoria via Refugio County, a rural coastal community with a population of 7300. I visited with three families whose homes were severely damaged by Harvey, and remain so today -- caved ceilings, rampant mold growth, exposed electrical wires, a detached chimney. One family, the Castanedas, were featured in last year’s Victoria Advocate Hidden in Plain Sight series, which explores inequality – and how Harvey exposed the gap between the people who could afford to rebuild and everyone else

The Castaneda’s story isn’t unique to Refugio. In Houston I met with the Doucettes, a family whose home is being rebuilt by local West Street Recovery group. WSR was launched by a group of friends in the midst of Harvey during a spontaneous search and rescue (with an inflatable kayak) as the city streets turned to waterways. WSR works in areas with poverty levels above the national average and income levels below the Houston median. West Street Recovery is another partner that strives to “fill the gap” where insurance and federal recovery programs will not, and are prioritizing the unmet needs of low-income, socially vulnerable families. In addition to reconstruction, WSR provides workforce development training, community organizing and disaster preparedness programs for its community.

Before returning to DC, I met with partners approaching disaster recovery from a different angle. Attack Poverty has launched a pilot program that brings on a full-time mental health professional to assess the emotional well-being of survivors during case visits. Research demonstrates a major gap in providing mental health services to disaster victims, and Attack Poverty is incorporating it into their every-day programming to address this unspoken, yet critical need for dedicated support. 

Looking to the future, the Houston Arts Alliance has teamed up with an emergency response specialist to educate the arts and culture community of Houston on disaster response and preparedness. A $1.2 billion industry in Harris County alone, museums, theatres, and small-businesses were hit with more than $50 million in direct damages by Harvey. The artist community is self-proclaimed to have been unprepared, which is why HAA is building out programming and workshops that will inform resilience planning and meet the needs of a multicultural, multilingual community. 

By the end of my visit, I recognize a few common threads hold true: Harvey continues to disproportionately affect low-income, marginalized and otherwise vulnerable communities; there is a major gap in providing mental health support for survivors; and, Texans are [always] thinking about the next storm. We’re proud to have partners who are still going strong two years later, undeterred by the infinite tasks that lie ahead; and we’re grateful to have the means to provide support to those advocating for improved systems and infrastructure that will prepare communities for the next storm. 

Other organizations we support include: 

  • Harvey Home Connect 
  • Victoria County Long Term Recovery Group
  • Urban Harvest
  • Coalition for Environmental Equity and Resilience
  • Houston Advanced Research Center
  • Bayou City Waterkeepers

Looking to the year ahead, GlobalGiving will continue to support grassroots, locally-led groups that are leading long-term Harvey recovery efforts and incorporating themes of disaster preparedness and resilience into their work. From food security projects to workforce development, regional climate research and nature-based resilience programming, GlobalGiving will invest in organizations that invest in the people they serve.

Photo courtesy of West Street Recovery
Photo courtesy of West Street Recovery
Photo courtesy of West Street Recovery
Photo courtesy of West Street Recovery
Photo courtesy of Rockport Hands of Hope
Photo courtesy of Rockport Hands of Hope
Photo from BakerRipley
Photo from BakerRipley

It's now been 19 months since Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas Gulf Coast and caused historic levels of flooding in Houston and beyond, and we're proud to report that our nonprofit partners remain hard at work helping residents on the long road to a complete recovery. Here's a look at the work continuing to be funded by the 31,803 donors like you who've raised more than $5.2 million in support of community-led relief and recovery efforts.

Houston's S.H.A.P.E. Community Center has continued to fulfill requests for direct financial assistance from individuals and families affected by Hurricane Harvey. They worked with community partners to organize "Healing After Harvey Circle of Resiliency"—a community mental health awareness event to mark the one-year anniversary of the disaster.

Target Hunger will be opening a new food pantry in one of Houston's neighborhoods hardest-hit by flooding after Hurricane Harvey and has transitioned individuals and families who sought help during the storm to ongoing food assistance programs. They will be tracking their constituents' progress through 2019 to determine the long-term impact and outcomes related to disaster recovery for these community members.

The Coalition for the Homeless of Houston and Harris County, in coordination with local partner The Way Home, is working to remove barriers for hurricane-affected residents moving into permanent housing. They've established a fund that's provided more than 600 "welcome baskets" to their constituents full of home goods, furniture, and one-time financial assistance to pay for expenses like deposits that other funding sources may not cover.

As of January of this year, the team at BakerRipley are helping more than 1,700 households repair their flood-damaged homes.  Additionally, they've provided direct financial assistance to more than 5,600 individuals and families and have supplied essential household goods to more than 22,000 families in the Houston area.

We're also happy to share that two leaders from our partners working on Harvey recovery efforts, Shondra Muhammad of S.H.A.P.E. Community Center and Tiffany Stafford of Target Hunger, were selected as members of the Disaster Recovery Network at GlobalGiving’s first class of Disaster Feedback Fellows. They joined eight other fellows from community-based nonprofits to spend a week in Washington, D.C. this past October learning from each other, promoting their disaster recovery projects to peers and funders, and speaking at and attending the 2018 Feedback Summit.

Thanks again for your generous support of the continuing work of helping communities recover and rebuild after Hurricane Harvey. We're looking forward to sharing more stories of progress with you in the coming months.

 

With gratitude,
Will + the GlobalGiving Team

Photo from BakerRipley
Photo from BakerRipley

This Saturday, August 25th, will mark one year since Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, resulting in widespread flooding and powerful winds that damaged more than 300,000 buildings, displaced more than 30,000 residents, and claimed 106 lives.

In the immediate aftermath of the storm, our community-led nonprofit partners quickly responded, and they've remained hard at work over the past year to realize a complete recovery for the region with generous support from GlobalGivers like you. To date, 31,657 of you have raised an incredible $5.14 million to support 20 vetted nonprofits that have provided emergency relief in the days and weeks following Hurricane Harvey and have now transitioned into long-term recovery work.

To mark the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey and support vital ongoing recovery efforts, we're launching a new matching campaign that will provide a 100% match to donations to our vetted nonprofit partners continuing to help the people of the Texas Gulf Coast recover and rebuild.

Since our last report, your donation has provided vital support to a wide range of long-term recovery work, with a particular focus on rebuilding homes and ensuring food security to affected families.

  • BakerRipley's long-term recovery work in Houston continues on several fronts. Their restoration program is currently helping more than 700 families navigate the repair and rebuilding of their homes, and they've already completed work on 210 homes. Their Neighborhood Restoration Centers have assisted more than 15,000 individuals to develop tailored recovery plans and connected them with the services and resources they need to recover. And over the past year, they've supported more than 16,000 individuals and households with direct financial assistance to help meet basic needs.
  • Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County's Housing for Harvey program successfully transitioned more than 900 emergency shelter residents into housing either at New Hope Housing, Inc’s Residences on Emancipation program or in apartment units.
  • Food Bank Rio Grande Valley continues to help sister food banks in Houston, Victoria, Beaumont, and Corpus Christi feed families still coping with the effects of Hurricane Harvey. They've delivered more than 20 truckloads of relief supplies, including more than 2 million pounds of water and food to support tens of thousands of area residents.
  • All Hands and Hearts' teams in the Houston and Coastal Bend area are focusing on rebuilding area homes, and have completed 15 home rebuilds to date, with another six homes currently in progress. Their staff has also been hard at work rebuilding classrooms and wheelchair ramps at the Rhodes School in northeast Houston, a public charter school that serves 1,100 students from low-income areas across the city.
  • Over the last three months, S.H.A.P.E. Community Center in Houston has assisted more than a dozen families and individuals with temporary housing, home repair, building supplies, and direct financial assistance.
  • Food Bank of the Golden Crescent, serving Calhoun, Colorado, DeWitt, Goliad, Gonzales, Jackson, Lavaca, Matagorda, Refugio, Victoria, and Wharton counties in Texas, has provided 15,000 meals to families facing hunger due to the effects of Hurricane Harvey.
  • Trusted World Foundation is teaming up with local partners to perform mold inspections for homeowners without insurance and provide replacement appliances and bedding to families in need.
  • Target Hunger continues to provide disaster relief and recovery support to neighborhoods in northeast Houston, focusing on food assistance. Over the first five months of this year, they've served 3,600 individuals and anticipate that 2,500 residents will continue to need food assistance going forward.
  • So far in 2018, Texas Diaper Bank has distributed more than 1.5 million diapers, 2.6 million sanitary wipes, and 24,000 other baby items to Harvey-affected residents in the Coastal Bend area.
  • IsraAID's staff has been working in Houston and Harris County to identify vulnerable populations and higher-risk communities and households in order to support more efficient, cost-effective, and larger-scale recovery efforts, as well as determine gaps that need to be addressed in order to improve community resilience ahead of future natural disasters.
  • Direct Relief continues to provide medicines and supplies to healthcare facilities in Harvey-affected areas and recently launched a new Hurricane Community Health Fund to provide cash grants to free and charitable clinics in Texas to assist with ongoing relief activities and ensure financial stability.

Thank you again for your generous support of our Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, and for making the smart decision to donate cash to fund an effective, community-led approach to disaster recovery. We'll be back in your inbox in the coming months with more stories of progress toward a full recovery for the people of the Texas Gulf Coast.

Warmly,
Will Frechette + the GlobalGiving Team

Photo from Food Bank Rio Grande Valley
Photo from Food Bank Rio Grande Valley
Photo from Texas Diaper Bank
Photo from Texas Diaper Bank
Photo from All Hands and Hearts
Photo from All Hands and Hearts
Yum-Yum + Koko lounge in their new home in Houston
Yum-Yum + Koko lounge in their new home in Houston

The images flashed across the television screen and burned into Betsy Fleming’s mind. A drenched cat swimming through deep flood waters. Dogs chained up and abandoned in their backyards.

An animal lover, Betsy had to do something after Hurricane Harvey.

The Houston resident volunteered at a pop-up pet shelter and reunion center in Conroe, Texas, operated by Best Friends Animal Society.

“Thankfully, I was one of the lucky ones that was high and dry, but when I saw the devastation around me, and when I saw what else was going on in the city and how difficult it was, I wanted to be able to reach out and help somehow,” said Betsy.

Your donation made it possible for Betsy—and more than 1,300 Best Friends fellow volunteers—to act fast. They cared for more than 1,600 Harvey-affected animals from August to November. They cuddled scared cats, calmed distressed dogs, and cared for animals in harm’s way after the storm.

For Best Friends, reuniting lost animals with their families was the ultimate goal. But after a disaster of Harvey’s proportions, it’s difficult, Betsy explained.  

“People are out there looking for their animals. But at the same time, they’re coming back to nothing. They’re coming back to no house, no car, nothing,” she said. “I am sure there’s still a lot of heartbroken people out there because they lost a family member during Harvey.”

Thanks to Betsy, three homeless cats were able to put the horrors of Harvey behind them, for good. Betsy adopted two kittens, Koko and Yum-Yum, from the Best Friends shelter where she volunteered. Her mother, who lives in New Orleans, adopted a cat named Lola.

“I was immediately drawn to them, especially Koko, because every time I would walk by their cage, she would come to the front and just cry and cry and cry and cry. I’d reach in and pick her up, and she would just plaster herself to my body,” Betsy said.

The Houstonian couldn’t leave behind Lola, either. “She had the saddest eyes. She seemed very depressed at finding herself in this situation,” recalled Betsy.

All three cats are now happily settled into their new homes, Betsy said. Yum-Yum is a curious troublemaker, and Koko loves to cuddle. In New Orleans, Lola is treated like a queen—she sleeps in bed with Betsy’s mom and gets canned cat food and lots of toys.

“She is very thrilled with her life,” Betsy said.

With your help, Best Friends cared for nearly 800 animals at its Texas shelter in the days and weeks following Hurricane Harvey. Koko, Yum-Yum, and Lola are among 99 homeless pets who were adopted into loving new homes after the storm, according to Candi Maciel, who leads Best Friends’ partnership with GlobalGiving.

Some lucky pets were reunited with their families. This includes Boy, a caramel-colored pit bull terrier, whose family was forced from their apartment in Houston to Dallas after the hurricane. Best Friends’ reunited Boy with his family in November.

Best Friends had to send 500 Harvey-displaced animals to other shelters across the United States. The nonprofit is working hard to ensure their stories will end happily, too. Last month, it wound down its hurricane relief operations but plans to maintain a presence in Houston to help save as many animals as possible.

“The brightest light during this unprecedented series of storms was the constant reminder that together, we can make a difference,” said Kelly Morton of Best Friends. “Thanks to your swift and generous support, we were able to provide aid to affected animals exactly when it was needed the most.”

Thank you again for your generous support of vetted, high-impact nonprofits, like Best Friends Animal Society, that are helping people (and their pets!) affected by Harvey recover. We’ll be back in your inbox again in the coming months with more stories of progress.

Warmly,

Britt Lake + GlobalGiving Team

Best Friends helped Boy reunite with his family
Best Friends helped Boy reunite with his family
Renee, Coalition For The Homeless Of Houston/H.C.
Renee, Coalition For The Homeless Of Houston/H.C.

Tommy put aside his paperwork to help set up a mass shelter.

Sara convinced landlords across the city to open their apartments to people who had nowhere to go.

Renee partnered with a furniture company to ensure survivors had beds to sleep in and cabinets stocked with food.

When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, it meant double-duty for people like Tommy, a grants manager at BakerRipley, and Sara, a communications manager at the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/Harris County.

Thanks to you, these local heroes in Houston had the resources they needed to respond to the most pressing needs their communities in the wake of Harvey. With your support, our partners are restoring hurricane-ravaged homes, feeding displaced families, and caring for the most vulnerable survivors of the storm.

You can learn more about the heroic people you empowered in our new series, “After the Storm.”

With your support, our 29 Hurricane Harvey relief partners are now focused on meeting long-term disaster recovery needs in the hardest-hit Houston communities. That means ensuring vulnerable storm survivors, including immigrants, the elderly, children (and abandoned pets), have food and shelter.

While life looks like it’s back to normal in most parts of Houston, with electricity humming and doors open for business, the situation is still dire for thousands of people who our partners serve.

Two months after Harvey, our partners told us many people are still living in hotels, or even worse, their cars. Some are lucky enough to have families to lean on and stay with, but our partners said cramped living quarters and high-stress situations have strained relationships for some Harvey survivors. In some cases, people were living paycheck to paycheck or rooming with a friend in a now-damaged property. They’re struggling to find stability again with storm-related expenses that aren’t covered by insurance. Some survived domestic violence but were undocumented, and now need extra help to get back on their feet.

“Documents showing identity and evidence of abuse—needed for their legal cases—were lost with the rest of their belongings in the floods,” the Tahirih Justice Center reports.

Full recovery from Hurricane Harvey by all accounts will take years, and there are many challenges to still overcome. With you by our side, the GlobalGiving community will continue to be a strong source of support for Houston heroes—throughout the holiday season and for the long haul.

Warmly,
Britt Lake + the GlobalGiving Team

Tommy, BakerRipley
Tommy, BakerRipley
Sara, Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/H.C.
Sara, Coalition for the Homeless of Houston/H.C.
 

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