The year 2020 was for the record books in terms of hurricanes. The storms were made even more challenging because of COVID-19. Many of these hurricanes threatened or made landfall in my home state of Louisiana. Due to staff changes and workloads, I jumped at the chance to take on a temporary grantmaking role to support our Fund directors.
When assessing grants for hurricane recovery, I looked at several factors, including geography, impact, demographics, recovery needs and gaps, resources of the community and donor intent. I also consulted with local funders in and around the affected areas.
While planning for grantmaking, the Southern winter storms hit Texas and Southwest Louisiana, which had already been devastated by two hurricanes in 2020. At CDP, we constantly encourage funders to collaborate, and it’s advice that we also practice internally. As a result, three of the grants were made collaboratively with other CDP Fund directors.
And finally, the Atlantic Hurricane Season Recovery Fund is no longer tied to individual incidents or even years. As a result, I looked for recovery grants and efforts at prevention, mitigation and preparedness.
Here are the grants issued to date from the Atlantic Hurricane Season Recovery Fund:
- Acadiana Housing Alliance (through the Lafayette Habitat for Humanity) received a $150,000, six-month grant to complete outstanding repairs on the 12 remaining most urgent unmet needs cases from Hurricanes Laura and Delta in the Acadiana region.
- Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana (via the United Way of Southwest Louisiana) received a $150,000 grant over two years to fund an executive director to oversee the work of the Long-Term Recovery Committee. At least 12,000 homes for the uninsured or underinsured has been identified as needing repairs to improve the quality of life for these residents.
- Eastwick Unmet Needs Roundtable of the Southeast Pennsylvania Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (SEPA VOAD) received $50,000 through its fiscal sponsor, the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ. This grant will enable the Unmet Needs Roundtable to work with the community of Eastwick in the City of Philadelphia to rebuild homes that were damaged by Tropical Storm Isaias in August 2020 and help the community become more resilient. Eastwick is described in the application as “a predominantly African-American community located in the lower Southwest portion in the City of Philadelphia … [that] has also suffered environmental, economic and racial injustice for many years.”
- Houston Responds received a grant of $160,000 ($100,000 from the Atlantic Hurricane Season Recovery Fund) in response to Hurricanes Laura and Delta and the Winter Storms. Houston Responds will support the development of Southwest Louisiana Responds and Acadiana Responds groups to support church congregations as they develop their understanding and skills regarding case management and home rebuilding. Acadiana Responds is already proving to be instrumental after Hurricane Ida.
- GER3 (Global Emergency Relief, Recovery and Reconstruction) received a $50,000 grant in partnership with Google to provide critical recovery services to highly vulnerable and severely affected communities in the North Zone of Honduras following Hurricanes Eta and Iota, with potential transition into reconstruction efforts. With the aim of removing debris and cleaning 200+ structures across two communities, the community-led project approach will integrate local team members and cash-for-work opportunities while focusing on building back better, increasing sustainability and resiliency.
- Information Technology and Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC) received a $350,000 grant ($150,000 from Atlantic Hurricane Season Recovery Fund) funded by five different CDP Funds, including those associated with wildfires and COVID-19. ITDRC will monitor and support approximately 1,100 community recovery sites established during the current and previous years’ disaster responses, including 2020 hurricanes, wildfires and their nationwide COVID-19 response. It will provide technical assistance to the White Swan Community in South Dakota, which continues to struggle with recovery from repeated flooding exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. ITDRC will also continue building capacity for future wildfire and hurricane relief efforts. ITDRC is onsite in New Orleans and South Louisiana after Hurricane Ida while simultaneously responding to numerous fires on the west coast.
- Imagine Water Works received a $150,075 grant to expand its Mutual Aid Response Network as a physical and digital community hub for disaster preparedness and response during hurricane season and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This funding provides for additional community and organizational capacity. It allows existing staff and volunteers to provide education, training and support to disaster-related mutual aid efforts in New Orleans and Southwest Louisiana. In addition to supporting evacuees who were housed in NOLA following hurricanes Laura and Delta, IWW also responded to Hurricane Zeta that strongly affected the eastern part of New Orleans and caused power outages throughout the city. IWW has already been active in 2021 in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. It is providing emergency grants, running a distribution center, supporting mutual aid efforts and moving products to affected areas.
- Orange County Disaster Rebuild – In partnership with funding designated for the Texas Winter Storms, CDP provided a grant of $162,768 ($100,000 from Atlantic Hurricane Season Recovery Fund) to enable Orange County Disaster Rebuild to hire a volunteer coordinator, a case management supervisor and a construction manager to support the Orange, Texas’ recovery from the multiple storms. The county, which borders the most affected area of Southwest Louisiana, was hit by the winter storm and Hurricanes Delta, Laura and Sally.
- SBP received a $150,000 grant to support their SHARE program and serve at least nine vulnerable families in southwest Louisiana by rebuilding homes damaged or destroyed by Hurricanes Laura and Sally, thus shrinking the time between disaster and their recovery. SBP will leverage CDP’s support against other funding sources and community resources to serve families through its rebuilding program and SHARE grant program administered by SBP that distributes per-project gap funding to nonprofit rebuilding partners active in the area. The Fuller Center for Housing and All Hands and Hearts received $50,000 each from SBP via this grant to support their work. SBP will be implementing its SHARE program again in response to Hurricane Ida.
- Water Mission International received a 12-month grant of $108,410 to help Honduras’ communities build back better through resilient, long-term, community-managed, solar-powered, safe water projects that provide sustained access to a safe water supply for all people in the service area.