Flooded streets were full of abandoned cars as the water rushed down like roaring river rapids. Rivers, creeks, lakes and bayous were out of their banks and their waters were inching ever closer toward homes located along them.
Main roads in and out and through communities were closed down because they were impassable due to flooding or because part of the road had simply washed away. Some are still impassable weeks later in rural communities.
I’m not talking about Hurricane Harvey. These are scenes from last month in south Texas.
According to the National Weather Service’s Weather Prediction Center, over the first two weeks of May, the upper Texas coast received “300-600% of normal rainfall in that time frame.”
This heavy rain— after days of heavy rain … after a spring full of heavy rain — has left Texans anxious and worried about what might be next.
What happens in these communities, many of which are still recovering from Hurricane Harvey 21 months later, when the skies darken and the torrential rain begins to fall … and fall … and fall … again? How do people respond?
I lived through Harvey myself. And I know how anxious I became when the recent weather reports continued to beat the drum about rain and more rain. My house wasn’t flooded during Harvey. I didn’t lose any of my family members or my car. I was lucky. But this May, I still was scared and worried about the individuals and the families and the amazing organizations that we’ve funded to support Hurricane Harvey recovery. I worried about these communities and the people who have been through so much.
A quick survey of a few of our CDP grantees has provided some relief. Though there have been homes flooded and cars lost, most of the people affected were not Harvey recovery clients. Though the damage is still there, and the hurt is still there and the need for recovery is still there, the amount of damage and the number of people affected is much smaller than before. And, it seems, many will be able to self-recover or find the resources and help to move forward quickly.
And there is some good news! Sasha Cox with Attack Poverty, one of our grantees working in areas of Texas that were most affected by this recent flooding (Fort Bend and Brazoria County), shared something interesting with me. She said that the CDP funding provided to Attack Poverty after Hurricane Harvey to support building their capacity to respond and to prepare them and their communities for disaster, made this response easier. They were ready. And they are working more quickly to support those who need them.
I also heard from Tommy Rosson at Houston Responds, another one of our grantees who received capacity funding to help them build church networks and mobilize volunteer resources throughout the greater Houston area and beyond. Tommy said he was working with a newly formed network in Kingwood, Texas, to ramp up their work and move forward more quickly toward coordinated formation. Several neighborhoods in and around Kingwood had significant flooding, both during Harvey and during these rain events. Houston Responds will work to support the efforts of these Kingwood faith-based groups to support their communities in clean up and recovery.
What have I learned from this terribly soggy May in Texas? I’ve learned that CDP is doing something right by funding areas of the disaster cycle that don’t often get the most attention. We now have proof that, by funding organizational and community capacity to respond to disaster, we make that next response and recovery better and faster. By funding an organization’s or a community’s disaster PREPAREDNESS, we help make them more resilient. And we make recovery easier and better than it was before.
And through the CDP Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund, we are still here. We’re still helping even, as we found out in May, when the next big storms roll in. To hear from our grantees that they were ready to respond when these storms hit, truly did my heart good. In my mind, they represent the varied voices of recovery. On our new video you can hear some of the voices too and see more about our commitment to long-term recovery. To me, it’s not simply about the projects we’ve funded, it’s about the people who courageously face the challenges of an ongoing recovery every day, as they have for almost two years. I am so very proud to do this work with them.
Thanks to all the organizations we’ve been able to fund – groups like Houston Responds and Attack Poverty and all the people working to support recovery in Texas, I know that we are now just a little bit Texas Strong-er.