Domestic Disaster Response & Preparedness
Photo: Craig Thompson, Disciple Design
Hurricanes Sally and Zeta, Alabama
West Coast Fires (2020)
Hurricanes Laura and Delta, Louisiana*
Tropical Storm Imelda, Texas
Tornadoes, Ohio* Hurricane Michael, Florida
Hurricane Florence, North Carolina*
Carr Fire and Camp Fire, California
Hurricanes Irma & Maria, Puerto Rico
Hurricane Irma, Florida
Hurricane Harvey, Texas
*limited volunteer opportunities available, with COVID-19 precautions
On August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall near Rockport, TX. Over the next week, the storm stalled over southeast Texas, producing unprecedented rainfall and catastrophic flooding across 41 counties. Nearly 1 million households were directly affected. One year after the storm, 30% of people who were impacted by the storm reported their lives were still disrupted, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Episcopal Health Foundation, 15% of the homes damaged or destroyed by the storm were still unlivable as of the one year anniversary.
How Disciples are Involved:
Local Contacts: local Disciples of Christ congregations, local Long-Term Recovery Groups, West Street Recovery, Habitat for Humanity, ECHOS, Camp Noah, and Children’s Disaster Services
Early Response: Week of Compassion provided solidarity grants to almost 250 Disciples households and more than 20 Disciples congregations that sustained damage to their homes or church buildings. Through multiple local congregations as well as a CWS local partner, ECHOS, we supported the distribution of emergency supplies and clean-up kits. Additional support for ECHOS included case management assistance and small grants for displaced families. We also collaborated with National Benevolent Association and the Pension Fund to provide mental and emotional health supports to pastors in the affected areas. Our partners at Children’s Disaster Services provided trauma-informed child care in shelters following the storm.
Ongoing Engagement: After two years of operation, the Disciples Volunteering mission station at First Christian Church, Texas City, has closed. Volunteer teams are still needed to repair damaged homes through referrals to Habitat for Humanity of Jefferson County and other partners across the affected counties (see "Volunteer" below for details). We are also supporting home repairs through Long-Term Recovery Group grants and a partnership with the Wharton West End Initiative/Wharton County Recovers. A new partnership with West Street Recovery in Houston is supporting a multi-pronged approach to disaster recovery that includes home repair, skills training, community organizing and advocacy, and disaster preparedness. Through the Houston-based organization, ECHOS, we helped launch a disaster preparedness program to make some of the most vulnerable populations in the Houston area more resilient. First Christian Church, Aransas Pass is hosting a licensed pastoral counselor to provide low-cost and free services to those dealing with trauma from the storm. Since the storm, our partners at Camp Noah have provided several camps for children to help them process the experience of disaster.
How to Help:
Volunteer: Volunteer opportunities are currently limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For inquiries about future volunteer opportunities, contact Associate Director for Domestic Disaster Response, Caroline Hamilton-Arnold.
Give to Week of Compassion: Designate “US Storms--Harvey”
Pray: Continue to pray for the people of southeast Texas, our Week of Compassion partners, and the volunteer teams as they work to restore affected communities.
Advocate: Access to affordable housing is a major challenge in many disaster recoveries, and recovery from Harvey is no exception. Harris County (Greater Houston Area) had a significant shortage of affordable housing prior to the storm, and about 25% of that housing was damaged. Affordable housing shortages pose challenges in many of the more rural counties as well. Learn more about this issue with these resources from the non-profit organization Texas Housers: https://texashousers.net/category/harvey-recovery/
Watch our social media feed for photos, stories, and updates about this recovery.