Earlier this month, we sent a disaster relief team to serve those impacted by the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. The team connected victims to local services, went door-to-door interviewing people about their needs, handed out supplies, and conducted thousands of client intakes. Here is what a few members of that team had to say about their experience:
“I’ve been involved in many disaster relief efforts, including time spent in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and in Indonesia after the 2004 tsunami. The destruction I saw in Houston and surrounding areas was on par with both of these major disasters. You never get used to it. It takes your breath away to see so much just gone. Pretty much everything was out in the streets. The sewer had backed up. We met many people who owned their home and now it’s just gone. A lot of renters unsure of what would happen to them. We went up and down the street enrolling people in recovery and long-term services. No one is ever prepared for this size of a disaster, but the gap in recovery is even larger for those in poverty. That’s what makes these long-term services so critical and I’m grateful to be a part of this effort.” – Jeff Demers
“On my second day on the Texas Coast, I had to get to downtown Houston to the Catholic Charities Galveston/Houston main office. Since I didn’t have my own transportation, I scheduled a Lyft. My Lyft driver noticed my disaster recovery shirt and began to share her story with me. She proudly told me that she is a cement truck driver and that her boss has assured her she will have a job, but he was to wait for insurance to re-open the business. She said as soon as she heard from him she signed up with Lyft because she has bills to pay. This was one week after the flood and hurricane. One week. Her work ethic was so inspiring to me. The care and compassion of the Catholic Charities Galveston-Houston team through long, hard hours was inspiring to me. This is a catastrophic disaster of historic proportions, but this showed me the people of Texas will help themselves and their neighbors recover. I am so inspired, exhausted, blessed, and awestruck at the devastation and the will to survive and rebuild!” – Francine Speer
“It was very gratifying being able to go down there and help these people out. It was almost like triage work assessing the damage. We went house-to-house and interviewed victims about their needs. We made sure everyone had registered with FEMA. We handed out supplies. We met two older ladies who didn’t have anyone to clean out their houses, so we were able to connect them with a company that was providing this service for hurricane victims. It was amazing to see how much people had done to work towards getting back to their normal life and how much the community was helping each other.” – Steve Landon
“This was my first time serving on a disaster team. I met so many people affected by the Hurricane in so many different ways. One woman had wet curtains, one family was sleeping in their flooded home with no other options, and one elderly man had four feet of water in his home and he had to swim out. One mother I met with took in her daughter and her family. She cried and asked me to pray for her. She said it was the first time she just got to cry because she didn’t want to cry in front of her daughter. So many people were affected in so many different ways and we were able to be there to step into the effect instead of standing by to watch it. I am truly grateful to serve with an organization like CCFW that steps into the flood and walks in the mess with people all the way through recovery.” – Jay Semple
“It was an amazingly awesome and humbling experience. I was able to grow personally as well as professionally during my time in Houston, I was given the opportunity to work with some extremely talented colleagues and meet some extremely inspiring individuals. The clients I was able to meet and work with were some of the most resilient individuals I have had the pleasure of working alongside. Even though many Houstonians I met, had experienced multiple natural disasters, their optimism and positive attitude shone through and inspired me to continue to count my blessings in life.” – Kate Gracie
For more information on our response to Hurricane Harvey and to see how you can help, click here.