Like so many others in and around Baytown, John and Betty Stevens’ Anahuac house was flooded when Hurricane Harvey spun its way across the Texas Gulf Coast last August. They had over three feet of water in their home of more than forty years. For these septuagenarians, facing the repair was overwhelming. They received some FEMA money, but it wasn’t nearly enough to cover everything that was needed to make their home livable again.

John and Betty Stevens at the home blessing sponsored by the Mennonite Disaster Service. Credit: Traci Dillard, Baytown Area & Chambers County Disaster Recovery.
John and Betty Stevens at the home blessing sponsored by the Mennonite Disaster Service. Credit: Traci Dillard, Baytown Area & Chambers County Disaster Recovery.

The Stevens were lucky, though. They received help from the Baytown Area and Chambers County Disaster Recovery group and a group of volunteers from Mennonite Disaster Services. They’re now happily back where they belong. But there are hundreds of other individuals and families who need similar help.

A quick tour through La Grange, TX, along the Colorado River—even six months after Hurricane Harvey dumped buckets of rain on this inland community—shows there’s still much to do to get residents living in safe, mold-free conditions. Some people are still living in homes that have not even been cleaned out from flooding. Others are waiting for help to repair or rebuild or even relocate their homes. Though there are volunteers stepping up to help repair and rebuild, this community needs a plan that encompasses everyone who was impacted and provides much needed assistance to those who are most vulnerable.

Who will help them? How will they help?

There’s good news for both Baytown/Chambers County and the La Grange areas! Amazing community leaders are stepping in to support local long-term recovery. Volunteers, nonprofit organizations, corporate leaders, and citizens are all ready to work to rebuild homes and rebuild lives in each of these Harvey-impacted areas. And because more than 300,000 donors responded to Hurricane Harvey by giving to strategic, long-term recovery, CDP has the resources to support this difficult but vital work.

CDP continues to leverage the Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund to drive locally-led recovery. I am honored to announce that the Board of CDP, with guidance from the Hurricane Harvey grant committee, has approved funding to support building the capacity of these communities to recover more completely and quickly.

The two long-term recovery groups (LTRGs) working in Baytown and La Grange join the six other LTRGs funded just last month through the Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund.

The Baytown Area and Chambers County Recovery group has received $166,500 from CDP’s Harvey Fund. They’ll use this grant to hire a case worker and a project manager to expand their reach to rebuild and repair more homes in their area. They will focus their efforts in support of elderly and disabled residents first and foremost in order to address the needs of those who have the greatest needs and the least resources for recovery.

The La Grange Area Long Term Recovery Team will use their $100,000 grant to hire a case management supervisor, volunteer coordinator, and construction manager to oversee the process for rebuilding, repairing or relocating homes in flooded neighborhoods along the river in flood zones. They will focus on helping those residents who did not qualify for FEMA assistance and are some of the most vulnerable living in their community.

Congratulations to these two amazing additional community disaster recovery groups. We look forward to seeing the good work they do at rebuilding more resilient communities in the face of future disasters.