In 2017, Aug. 25 was a tragic day. Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, bringing destructive winds and floodwaters that claimed 88 lives and caused immeasurable damage.
In 2018, as that date approaches again, Texans mourn the loss of those who were taken too soon and reflect on the struggles hundreds of thousands have faced in Harvey’s aftermath.
Texans, however, also take pride in the triumphs of so many survivors who have overcome difficulties and destruction Harvey dumped into their lives.
“Hurricane Harvey was an unprecedented natural disaster that devastated lives, homes, infrastructure and natural habitats,” said Paul Morris, director of the FEMA Texas Recovery Office.
“The response, however, showed the true nature of our state and our neighbors, helping one another and refusing to give into the troubles thrown their way.”
Harvey dropped more rain than any storm in recorded continental U.S. history and caused nearly 780,000 Texans to evacuate their homes, including over 122,000 who were rescued by local, state or federal first responder's as well as private citizens from Texas and Louisiana.
Thousands of homeowners and businesses have since rebuilt, many with the help of federal grants, U.S. Small Business Administration low-interest disaster loans and flood insurance payments, which total in the billions. Many more have picked themselves up and started fresh in new apartments or houses.
FEMA had pre-positioned personnel and supplies as Harvey approached last year, and was ready to join the Texas Division of Emergency Management, local agencies, nonprofits and the private sector in responding to survivors’ immediate needs. Within days, the number of responder's from FEMA, other federal agencies and the Texas National Guard topped 31,000.
State agencies and local governments hit the ground running after Harvey and established innovative partnerships with FEMA that deliver resources effectively and efficiently. This enables the state to guide its own recovery, and allows communities to decide how they will rebuild.
Thousands of Harvey survivors, for instance, have lived in temporary housing units through a Direct Housing program that is funded by FEMA, administered by the Texas General Land Office and led by local governments.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Texans have received free, confidential crisis counseling and referral services through Texans Recovering Together, a program run by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and funded through grants from FEMA.
Volunteers from around the state and around the country also have flocked to the disaster area, contributing more than 3.5 million hours of their time and a massive amount of unsolicited donations in the past year.
As the state looks back on a year of recovery and remembrance, Texans find themselves in the midst of another hurricane season. There will never be a better time to plan for the unexpected and take action to protect one’s home, property and family. For information on how to prepare, visit www.ready.gov.
Texans know there is still much more work to be done. Recovering from Hurricane Harvey is a long-term process, which is led by the State of Texas with continuing support from FEMA and other federal agencies. But with the lessons learned and partnerships solidified during the past year, Texas will emerge smarter, safer and stronger than ever before.
The 2017 disaster season affected nearly 47 million people in the United States. While recovery continues, FEMA and its inter-agency partners remain focused and dedicated to the continued stabilization and resilience of impacted communities. As of July 25, 2018, FEMA and its federal partners obligated $22.9 billion dollars to support response and recovery from hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and the California wildfires. FEMA and its federal partners have been making long term investments in the affected communities and will continue to focus on the progression of recovery for years to come.
For additional information on Hurricane Harvey and Texas recovery, visit the Hurricane Harvey disaster web page at www.fema.gov/disaster/4332