(Photo: From left, Debi and Bill Hayden with Ginger Ford Northshore Fuller Center for Housing Executive Director Tamara Danel in April at the re-dedication of their Hammond, Louisiana home, where damage from the August 2016 flood was repaired by Fuller Center volunteers.)
The images coming out of Houston and east Texas are heart-wrenching. Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath of record rainfall have destroyed homes and washed away entire neighborhoods and communities.
The Fuller Center for Housing is not a disaster-relief organization. Now is the time for those groups to step forward, and they are doing all they can in conjunction with government agencies, volunteers and good-hearted folks from across the nation — neighbors and strangers.
Eventually, the spotlight will fade from this disaster, but the after-effects will be long-lasting. Many families will be helped by FEMA, while others will be able to rebuild with the help of insurance coverage or their savings. Thousands of families, however, will no doubt fall through the cracks of assistance and years from now will be feeling hopeless.
The Fuller Center has helped families who fell through the cracks after Katrina — some of them who spent years living in FEMA trailers and some who were even denied that help. We helped families in Atlantic City, N.J., after SuperStorm Sandy. We are busier than ever in Haiti, devastated by a 2010 earthquake and in Nepal, where a massive quake struck in 2015. We remain busy helping families affected by last year’s flooding in Louisiana. And we will be there for families impacted by Harvey. With the Associated Press reporting that only 2 of 10 Houston area homeowners possess flood insurance, your support of The Fuller Center’s Disaster Recovery Fund is desperately needed.
“While FEMA will help many, their funding typically covers only a portion of the recovery costs,” Fuller Center President David Snell said. “As is always the case in these events, the poor will be the least able to restore their homes. This is where The Fuller Center can be the most helpful. We will be reaching out to those families to help them rebuild.
“We focus our work on recovery, and there will be a great deal of work ahead of us in the wake of Hurricane Harvey,” he added. “Our generous donors’ gifts will be put to good use once the flood waters have receded and the vital work of getting houses restored begins.”
HARVEY TAKES AIM AT LOUISIANA
The Fuller Center Disaster ReBuilders currently have a base in Denham Springs, Louisiana, where they are busy helping families affected by two devastating floods in 2016. It was just in April that dozens of Fuller Center volunteers converged on Hammond, Louisiana, for the Higher Ground on the Bayou Flood Recovery Blitz. Those areas are now in line to get at least several inches of rain as Harvey moves inland once again, threatening to extend the current flood disaster into Louisiana.
“It is very gloomy and dreary and rainy, raining off and on today with lots of thunderstorms,” Ginger Ford Northshore Fuller Center Executive Director Tamara Danel said when reached Tuesday in Hammond, Louisiana. “And the forecast is not looking good.”
Ginger Ford Northshore has hosted hundreds of volunteers over the years helping families who suffered for years after Katrina and more recently families impacted by two historic floods in 2016. She knows how difficult it will be for those impacted by Harvey over the years to come.
“It’s going to take years and years for the folks in Texas to be taken care of one way or the other,” Danel said. “I’m just really shocked and devastated by the destruction and worried about the lack of available housing when all of this is said and done because so many houses are going to be in ruins.”
Danel’s team built a new home in Pearl River, Louisiana, last year for a family that had been living in a FEMA trailer for more than a decade after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina — a build that was sandwiched between the area’s two devastating 2016 floods. She has seen the looks of hopelessness on the faces of those who believe help will never come.
“There are still families here who have not begun work on their homes and are not living in safe, sanitary conditions, and it’s been over a year since the flood,” she said. “We had about 150,000 people affected by the floods last year, and so many are still without restored homes. When you multiply that by what we see in Texas, it’s going to be an astronomical challenge to help everybody and to find housing that is safe and sanitary for people to live in.”
The Fuller Center for Housing is monitoring the situation in Texas and Louisiana and already in talks with church and other groups about partnerships and other ways to help once the immediate disaster situation is under control. If you know of a church group interested in forming a Faith Builders partnership to help families recover or would like to become a covenant partner, please contact The Fuller Center at firstname.lastname@example.org.