Volunteers with Galveston County Recovers canvassed Hurricane Harvey-hit neighborhoods Saturday to assess lingering damage and survey what still needs to be done a year after the storm.
“Is that the waterline on your cabinets there?” asked Valery Phillips, pointing to a dark line in Barbara Murray’s kitchen.
Phillips and Lanette Leining, another Galveston County Recovers volunteer, had been dispatched to Murray’s home and others like it 10 a.m. Saturday to help determine what kind of help vulnerable populations still living in Harvey-ruined homes needed.
“There it is,” replied Murray, 63, who has lived in her Dickinson home since 2006. “My whole kitchen was underwater. The freezer was floating, it was in the center of the floor still full of food.”
Phillips and Leining nodded and noted Murray’s reply on an evaluation sheet that would be turned over to the Galveston County Recovers full-time assessor later. They were only two of nearly 100 volunteers who had shown up to help across the county that morning, but Danielle Cox, pastor at First Christian Church in Texas City and a member of the Galveston County Recovers communications committee, said the project wouldn’t be possible without the work of people like them.
“Being able to get this amount of assessments done in the amount of time we had today, volunteers are essential to that,” Cox said. “It would take him several, several weeks to do what we did in one morning today because of the volunteers,” she said of the assessor.
The group, a collaborative aid network made up of representatives from local nonprofit, faith-based and civic organizations, had 144 homeowners to contact Saturday. The volunteers’ assessments will allow Galveston County Recovers to focus on providing money and other resources to the people who need the most help first.
After the volunteers are finished with the evaluations, which assessed the state of roofs, ceilings, walls, floors and more in Harvey-damaged homes, the results would be turned over to Galveston County Recovers’ assessor, Cox explained. Then, the houses that the volunteers surveyed could be prioritized by need, approximate repair costs quoted and final evaluations sent on to the group’s committee that divvies up donated resources to help.
Beyond the value of the assessments, the event Saturday also allowed Galveston County Recovers to tap into a group of volunteers who might be willing to help out regularly, Cox said. Debbie Turner, who attended the event on Saturday with her husband, Wayne, said that considering what her own experience with Harvey had been, she was definitely interested in helping.
“I just want to be a part of the effort,” she said. “People think that everything is OK now but it’s not. We just want to help where we can.”
For people like Barbara Murray, whose house was flooded with 3 feet of water one year ago and are still dealing with the fallout, the help couldn’t come soon enough.
“When will I hear back?” Murray asked as Leining and Phillips left her yard to move on to the next home. “It’s been a whole year.”