HOUSTON – In the year since Hurricane Harvey caused widespread flooding and damage along the Texas Gulf Coast and in and around Houston, nonprofits and charities have been busy filling the gaps in aid that government agencies may not have covered.
The largest groups raised a total of nearly $1 billion for Harvey relief, according to an Associated Press tally . Two-thirds of that money has been distributed or allotted for specific recovery efforts.
Although the groups have raised a lot of money, it is a fraction of what is needed. After coming ashore Aug. 25, 2017, as a Category 4 storm, Harvey lingered for days, killing 68 people, dumping more than 60 inches (1,524 millimeters) of rain in some parts of Texas and causing an estimated $125 billion in damage.
The American Red Cross raised $523 million in cash donations, goods and services, which was the most of any group. It has spent or allocated $397 million of that money. In addition to sheltering people who were displaced by the storm, the Red Cross gave grants of up to $2,000 to affected households.
The Greater Houston Community Foundation, which ran the fund sanctioned by the city of Houston and surrounding Harris County, has distributed nearly all the $114 million it raised.
LaMecia Butler, the foundation's coordinator for Harvey grants, said her organization has coordinated with many others to try to meet the various needs of those affected. The foundation spent nearly $47 million on temporary housing and home repair, which was its biggest expenditure.
"We all wanted to make sure there was as much coverage of the needs as possible," she said.
The Rebuild Texas Fund, started by the family foundation of computer magnate Michael Dell, raised $100 million and has distributed about half of that money to 156 different causes, including providing school supplies to coastal communities and "emotional healing and resiliency training" for a group of adults and youth.
Anna Babin, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Houston, said her agency raised $51 million after Hurricane Harvey and has spent about $24.5 million of it. The group spent $10 million on minor home repairs; $4 million on unmet needs for such things as home appliances and work uniforms; and $2.4 million on providing basics such as food, shelter and utilities.
In the Port Arthur area, more than $600,000 was raised by the United Way of Mid and South Jefferson County, said Janie Johnson, the group's executive director. The money has gone toward providing building supplies, appliances, furniture, and utility and rent assistance programs.
"There's so many other organizations that have stood up from being here before the storm as well as others that have come in. It's a collective work, but there's just so much work to be done," Johnson said.