Recovery ongoing in southeast Texas following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma
By: Philip Burn
The Salvation Army continues to provide long-term recovery services to residents whose lives were forever changed after Hurricane Harvey.
Though the flood water has long receded and much of the debris is gone, the recovery for many is going to take a long time,” said Lt. Colonel Ronnie Raymer, Texas divisional commander.
Thanks to the generous support of the American public, corporate donors and philanthropic organizations, The Salvation Army raised more than $30 million for Hurricane Harvey response and recovery efforts. About $12 million went toward the immediate emergency; the balance, $18 million, is now going toward the long-term recovery of storm survivors.
Making landfall as a Category 4 Hurricane in late August 2017, Harvey devastated much of the Texas coastline. The storm initially hit the Coastal Bend area, causing widespread damage and flooding in Corpus Christi, Rockport, Port Aransas and the surrounding communities. The following days saw similar impact along more than 300 miles of coastline before Harvey stalled over Houston, causing widespread flooding in the city and in the Beaumont area.
Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services (EDS) immediately responded on Aug. 25, providing food, hydration and emotional and spiritual care to survivors and first responders. In addition to local units in the path of the hurricane, trained disaster teams from throughout Texas and beyond staged in San Antonio and deployed in the aftermath of the storm.
At the peak of service, 103 Salvation Army mobile feeding units were working in affected areas delivering almost 1 million meals, 33,000 food boxes, 92,000 comfort kits and 15,000 cleanup kits.
“The immediate response of our emergency disaster teams was swift and effective,” Lt. Colonel Raymer said. “We were able to provide practical assistance in the form of a hot meal, a drink, perhaps a cleanup kit, and an encouraging word and prayer to many thousands of people who overnight found themselves in crisis. It was such a blessing to be told, ‘Thank you, I knew The Salvation Army would come’ by those in affected communities.”
As the disaster response has transitioned from immediate response to long-term recovery services, The Salvation Army continues to support families affected by Harvey and to help rebuild communities.
Caseworkers are meeting with those in affected areas providing financial assistance and referrals to partner agencies and non governmental organizations. Eight warehouses, serving as points of distribution across the affected region, have been opened; these facilities are receiving, sorting and distributing a wide range of items, such as furniture and appliances, donated to help survivors. The Army also is providing building materials to assist homeowners in repairing damage to their homes
Special efforts have been made by The Salvation Army to reach underserved areas of Texas affected by Harvey, working closely with local community advocates and agencies. Four regional recovery program managers have been hired to oversee these efforts and to network with partner agencies to provide Salvation Army support and assistance.
“The Salvation Army, motivated by the love of God and with a mission to meet human need, provides service in every zip code in Texas and is committed to stand by its brand promise, ‘Doing the Most Good,’ as individuals and families continue to put life back together,” said Lt. Colonel Raymer. “We were there long before the hurricane hit, and we’ll be there long after the recovery process is over.”
To support the ongoing work of The Salvation Army Hurricane Harvey recovery or for more information go to www.salvationarmytexas.org/harvey/
Philip Burn is communications director for the Texas Division of The Salvation Army.