“During times of disaster, sorrow brings people together in a spirit of friendship, and influences man to recognize the blessings of becoming his brother’s keeper.” – Napoleon Hill
Believe it or not, communities all along the Texas Gulf Coast and across the island of Puerto Rico continue to pick up the pieces of 2017’s Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria. The wind and rain are mere memories, but the scars of devastation remain in the land, the homes, the infrastructure, and the economy.
But there has been so much progress – life-changing progress. So, on this third anniversary of Hurricanes Harvey and Maria, we’re taking a step back to reflect on all the people we’ve been able to help through our Disaster Recovery programs. As our COO Chip Fulghum recently said, “From San Antonio to San Juan, we recognize the positive impact we have been able to make by engaging in our communities.”
Coastal Communities In Turmoil
In Texas, the Houston area and southern Gulf Coast region were hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. Wind speeds reached 156 mph, with a storm surge of 12 feet in some places. It’s estimated that Harvey was a $125 billion storm.
Devastation swept ashore in a matter of days, but the recovery has been years-long. Texans experienced property damage, homelessness, unemployment, debt, loss, and mental health illness. Homes and office buildings sustained severe wind and water damage. From Houston to Corpus Christi, towns along the coast felt crippling economic setbacks due to the storm. Tourist towns that rely on summer traffic sit half-empty during the peak season, leaving residents unemployed.
Still, resilience and hope have been guiding lights up and down the coast. And we have been honored to help those on their journey to recovery.
People Helping People
In those first weeks after the storm, our Emergency Services team was on the ground, partnering with FEMA and Texas Health and Human Services to help however we could. Here are just a few of the ways we made a difference for Texans:
- In Port Arthur, TX, our Emergency Services team established a shelter for those displaced by the hurricane, maintained the grounds, managed the fuel, and processed incoming donations. They even cared for pets that belonged to evacuees or had been separated from their owners in the storm.
- In Houston, Orange, and Beaumont, we set up temporary stations to help displaced Veterans and provide vital supplies like bottled water, hygiene products, and diapers, while offering our Disaster Case Management Services.
- You may or may not know that Endeavors works to help find displaced children a loving home by providing home study services for adoptive and foster families in five major Texas areas. In the wake of Harvey, we provided free training on Trauma-Informed Care, Developmental Stages, Normalcy, SIDs & Shaken Baby / Water Safety, and Discipline for Child Placement Agencies impacted by the hurricane.
- We also teamed up with other nonprofits and volunteers to rebuild dozens of homes for hurricane survivors like Ivia Webb living in temporary housing like motels or FEMA trailers.
- We hosted donation collections for evacuated families who were not in shelters but could not return to their homes. Our teams delivered hundreds of gift cards for groceries and gas, and boxes of feminine products, hygiene wipes, and diapers to families in urgent need of essential items.
- Our Emergency Services program teamed up with Endeavors Veterans Supportive Services to secure financial assistance for Veterans and military families who lost their homes, were at risk of losing their home, or were currently residing in a shelter due to the hurricane.
- Since Harvey first touched down in August of 2017, our Disaster Case Managers have resolved 2,923 cases- including this Texas man’s case. Additionally, our team responded to over 10,000 information and outreach cases, providing referrals, and connecting survivors with resources and benefits.
- Most recently, our Veteran Supportive Services program teamed up with the Bob Woodruff Foundation to provide emergency financial assistance to Veteran households along the Texas Gulf Coast still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.
Crossing Oceans To Serve
Texans aren’t the only ones still digging their way out of hurricane damage. Just a month after Harvey, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, wreaking havoc from coast to coast. Though estimates differ slightly, the damage sustained by the island hovers around $100 billion, not including the subsequent tourism money the economy lost as a result. Family, businesses, schools, government offices…no one was left untouched by the storm.
Endeavors worked ceaselessly to secure offices across the island, setting up headquarters in San Juan and getting down to the business of meeting survivors’ needs. Day after day, our teams responded to crises of every level.
- We networked with local nonprofits like Fundacion CHILD to secure donations and help children impacted by the hurricane.
- In Barrio Toro Negro, we rebuilt bridges and roads to restore village access to families in remote areas.
- When FEMA requests were denied to survivors, we wrote letters of appeals, helping Puerto Ricans like Angel Manuel Ruiz get the money and resources they needed to rebuild their heavily damaged homes. Disaster Case Manager Idia Sanchez fought tooth and nail to ensure Senor Ruiz’s home was safely restored.
- Across the island, we found new beds for families who saw theirs get washed away by the floods.
- When we met children who relied on respiratory therapy machines to live but still had no power to their homes, we found them portable battery-powered machines.
- In the town of Salinas, Disaster Case Managers assisted a community whose plumbing and running water remained disconnected months and months after the hurricane. Our DCMs asked the Coca Cola Company to donate water cisterns that would not only provide an immediate source of fresh running water but ensured that the remote community would always have a self-sufficient water system. Our DCMs then installed the cisterns for the families! (Read the full story in English and Spanish!)
- In San Juan alone, we repaired 18 homes with the help of a generous local church congregation.
- Another amazing number? 1,600. That’s how many volunteers stepped up to lend a hand, advocate or raise awareness for our Hurricane Maria survivors in Puerto Rico through Endeavors in 2019 alone.
- We were able to coordinate partnerships with national organizations and independent volunteers from across the United States…people who were willing to give their time to travel to Puerto Rico and deliver food and supplies, repair and rebuild homes, and reconnect neighborhoods to vital services like water and electricity. To every one of those organizations, donors, and volunteers, we give our heartfelt thanks.
And we could not be prouder of our DCMs who worked day after day to organize those volunteers for the “boots on the ground” recovery work, and who approached every case with a “can-do,” problem-solving attitude, treating our clients with the utmost respect and compassion.
Strangers helping strangers, people helping people.
You can help those still recovering from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria by donating to Endeavors. When you support Endeavors®, you have a direct impact on the lives of people. Donors are agents of hope that help restore and rebuild the broken lives of families and individuals served by Endeavors®. With the support of our donors, we are able to touch the lives of more than 18,000 people each year. One replaced roof, one refurbished home, and one water cistern at a time, Endeavors is continually working to provide long-term, sustainable recovery.
Endeavors is a longstanding national nonprofit that provides an array of programs and services in support of children, families, Veterans, and those struggling with mental illness and other disabilities. Endeavors serves vulnerable people in crisis through innovative personalized services. For more information, please visit www.endeavors.org.