Some Texans Are Still Working to Rebuild Two Years After Hurricane Harvey

Rockport homeowner Sharon Sanders surveys destruction of her trailer. File photo by Jane Rodgers/TEXAN

As U.S. and international aid agencies pour resources into the Bahama Islands and eastern United States in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, some southeast Texas homeowners still await relief from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey two years ago, according to Southern Baptists of Texas Convention pastors in the region.

SBTC field ministry strategists Dennis Parrish and Sonny Hathaway serve Southeast Texas communities where Harvey damaged or destroyed 738,000 homes and 25-30 SBC churches, and more than 30 pastors’ homes.

But despite recovery efforts by faith-based, private and government entities, some homeowners remain displaced or live in storm-damaged homes, the pastors said. And, according to an Aug. 23 Houston Chronicle report, residents await repairs despite the $2.5 billion U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recovery funds granted to Houston and Harris County.

Hope deferred?

“As I drive our community, I pass many homes still being rebuilt, RVs that are still temporary homes, and many mobile homes that have taken the place of lost or damaged houses,” said Hathaway, whose field ministry area covers a large swath of Southeast Texas, including Beaumont and Port Arthur. “I would say that recovery has come a long way but families and businesses in our area are still working to rebuild.”

About 80 percent of homeowners do not have flood insurance and must rely on Federal Emergency Management Administration grants to fund repairs — a resource that proves inadequate for some, Parrish said.

“The greatest hindrance has been, is, and will be governmental stagnation. The bureaucracy of any federal funding, in any program, is the hold up of distribution,” Parrish told the TEXAN. His field ministry area includes Harris, Montgomery, Fort Bend, Brazoria, Galveston and Liberty counties.

The government should not bear all the blame, Parrish said. After conferring with Southern Baptist associational mission strategists in his region, Parrish said some churches remain closed or are in disrepair due to litigation over insurance settlements and other church-specific reasons.

Some homeowners, Parrish noted, may have misused funds or taken advantage of free assistance while others take their insurance companies to court over compensation disputes. Others had their property condemned because it lies within a flood plain.

The empty lots remind residents of Harvey’s trespasses and mark boundaries future storms might cross.

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Source: Baptist Press