In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey—which flooded homes and businesses in Cy-Fair over late August and early September—people throughout the Cy-Fair community joined together in recovery efforts to try to bring the area back to normal.
Now a team of community leaders, led by local nonprofit Cy-Hope, are forming a network of organizations to help Harvey victims in the long term. The Cy-Hope Disaster Recovery Network will be the first of its kind in the Cy-Fair area, said Godfrey Hubert, who serves on the Cy-Hope board of directors and has been a key player in getting the network up and running.
Hubert, who also serves as senior pastor for Foundry United Methodist Church on Jones Road, said Harvey was the fifth 500-year flood to hit Cy-Fair in the 33 years he has been with Foundry.
“We’ve just come to realize that, for recovery to be complete, it needs to be local,” Hubert said. “The face of it has to be local.”
In the three weeks since the network was launched, 14 local churches have joined as well as the Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce and Cy-Fair ISD said Steve Saunders, the network’s executive director. In the past, Saunders has worked with a number of Cy-Fair area nonprofits, including Cypress Assistance Ministries and Cy-Fair Helping Hands.
“The Cy-Fair community needs an organization like this because we don’t have the municipal government or other region specific organization to lead the way during disaster recovery,” Saunders said. “The Cy-Fair region’s population is nearly that of Austin, which is the 11th largest city in the U.S. The goal of the network is to provide the community with a unified effort to rebuild from Harvey and be ready to respond to the next disaster.”
The network is modeled after similar disaster recovery networks in Texas and Louisiana, Hubert said. Efforts will focus mainly on case management and restoring homes. Hubert said the network will target people for whom FEMA grants are not sufficient and are not able to fund repairs themselves, as opposed to people with flood insurance or people who have the means to pay for their own repairs.
Hubert said true recovery also goes beyond restoring houses and involves providing families with emotional and spiritual support.
Many member organizations are already bringing in visiting work teams from outside of Houston to help as a part of their own efforts. Foundry Church is planning to host 300 volunteers this week, Hubert said.
Saunders said he is currently building the training and leadership programs for the member organizations who will be working with families.
“Next month we hope to be on the ground continuing the work of helping families plan for their recovery and cleaning and drying homes, preparing [them]for rebuild and repair,” Saunders said. “The bulk of our work will be in full swing in 2018 as we are helping families rebuild and return to wholeness. This process of returning the region to wholeness will take several years, and we will build the network to be here for the long haul.”
The Cy-Hope network has also joined the Harris County Long-Term Recovery Committee and has been participating in meetings on what shape recovery efforts should take moving forward, Hubert said. He said he is hopeful to receive grant money from the county to help fund recovery efforts in Cy-Fair.
“We are poised and ready to move forward with case management and reconstruction,” Hubert said. “It’s just a matter of receiving marching orders that we’re good to go.”
In the meantime, Saunders said the network is in need of monetary donations as it continues to build infrastructure to handle the recovery efforts of hundreds of families. Readers can find updates on Facebook, and organizations interested in becoming members can send inquiries online.