By Trishna Buch
Now that Hurricane Harvey has made its appearance, left its mark and—FINALLY—made its way out of the area, we can focus on the clean-up and rebuilding efforts. A lot of the cities in Galveston County were hit particularly hard during the week that Hurricane Harvey threw over 50 inches of rain on our area. People had water coming into their homes, with many individuals being forced to their roofs; waiting for a helicopter rescue. Other people had to be evacuated from their homes by rescue boats, but the one thing that we learned with Harvey is that—when tragedies such as this storm take place—the people living in and around Houston are always ready to provide a helping hand. I was heart warmed to see the sheer amount of people who volunteered their time at shelters, donated items and/or sorted through these donations. Furthermore, not only were the first responders risking their lives to rescue people trapped in floodwaters—and I appreciate these individuals for keeping everybody safe in the most difficult week—but normal citizens, people with no first responder experience, were also doing everything they could to get people to safety.
This desire to help did not come to an end with the departure of Harvey. It is still going strong and—in fact—is especially needed right now. Jaree Fortin, public information officer of Galveston, told me that the city—fortunately—was not terribly affected by Harvey. She said that less than 400 properties were harmed by floodwaters and—from the properties and businesses in the downtown area that were affected—the majority of them have already re-opened for business. And Fortin told me that, since they did not hire outside contractors to do street clean-up, the local workers have already been able to do two sweeps of the city; cleaning off debris. We are now encouraging people to reach out to their Mainland neighbors and are sending our police and fire personnel to our neighboring communities.
Joe Dickson, Santa Fe city manager, told me that “a little over 2000 homes were affected by the storm.” The city’s contractor started work earlier in the week; picking up debris from around the Santa Fe streets. Dickson also commended the hard-work of volunteers, calling them “phenomenal.” He said that they have been very helpful in donating supplies, taking the time to credit the churches—such as Dayspring Church on 646—with playing a large role in the volunteer effort. “We have seen up to a 1000 vehicles coming to the churches with supplies.” He also credited Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization that has been going around Galveston County, assisting people in cleaning their homes. He said that, in terms of helping people get back on their feet, one of the things people need most right now is building supplies. “These supplies are necessary to help them rebuild their homes.”
Detective Sargent Tim Cromie of Dickinson told me that “we are on the up and—though it’s a slow process—we are rebuilding.” Dickinson’s contractor Crowder-Gulf, which is also contracted in Santa Fe, started its debris clean-up earlier in the week. He also mentioned that their Republic Waste services have started operations again, as have several businesses—including the Post Office. Unfortunately, there are still a few businesses that have not been able to open, such as Walgreens. “And this is unfortunate, because it means a lot of people are unable to get the medicines they need.” In a different vein, Cromie told me that the trucks who are going to pick up debris will run through the streets at least three times. But “we need the residents to help us out,” he said, by “removing any obstructions—such as cars—from in front of the debris and ensuring that all the debris is on the curb.”
And Cromie wanted to commend the public for their willingness to assist their fellow community members. Unfortunately, a lot of homes will be unable to be rebuilt, just based on the damage. A shelter has been set up at the Dickinson Community Gym for people who need it and donations have been pouring in. The City Of Dickinson website has also set up a Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, which you can access by going online to ci.dickinson.tx.us. And Cromie told me that a former resident of Dickinson, and his wife, donated $1 million to the fund. “There is going to be a committee formed who will decide where the funds will go, in order to make sure everyone has the assistance they need.”
By the time of publication, we had not heard back from League City, Hitchcock or Texas City. But this is to be understood because the cities are hard at work in their rebuilding efforts. And remember, we can all play a role in these efforts. Donate your items, donate your time, help out a neighbor, help out a friend and help out a stranger. Let’s continue to show the strength and solidarity we showed when Harvey was in our area. ?