Harvey – a name that has become synonymous with record-breaking rainfall and devastating flooding – will be part of Gulf Coast residents’ consciousness for many years to come. According to the National Weather Service, Hurricane Harvey dumped 51.88 inches of rain on Cedar Bayou on the outskirts of Houston over a five-day period. Moody’s Analytics estimates the storm damage at $97 billion in destruction alone (not counting lost output). The Texas Division of Emergency Management estimated that Hurricane Harvey damaged or destroyed over 185,000 homes and the Kinder Institute for Urban Research estimated that the “Cypress North” neighborhood was the hardest hit with over 5,600 flood-damaged homes.
Like so many in our community, Cy-Hope (www.cy-hope.org), a local non-profit working to make life better for kids in Cy-Fair, sustained significant damage during Hurricane Harvey. Their Hope Chest Resale Market (located at 12015 Barker Cypress Rd in Cypress), which provides revenue to support their programs, took in three feet of water, wiping out most of the store’s inventory, causing a lot of structural damage, and closing the shop for nearly two months. Two of their buildings at their headquarters campus at Northwest Forest flooded as well. Due to flooding in their Backpack Barn, they lost 1000 new backpacks for their Backpack Program that sends a backpack of food home every Friday with food-insecure children to sustain them over the weekend.
Cy Hope has a heart for the Cy Fair community; it has been their mission field for the past six years as they have served as a catalyst to bring needs and solutions together. Despite their own flooding issues, they assisted in providing immediate relief to Hurricane Harvey survivors. As the focus shifted from the relief stage to recovery, they leveraged their experience to form the Cy Hope Disaster Recovery Network (Cy HopeDRN) to bring a solution to the long-term recovery process. The Cy Hope Disaster Recovery Network (www.chdrn.org) is a network of faith communities, businesses, and organizations dedicated to helping their under-resourced neighbors fully recover from disaster. The network’s motto is “Recovering Hope. Restoring Lives. Rebuilding Together.”
Cy HopeDRN has hit the ground running. In its first few weeks, it sent representatives to meet with and learn from the Austin Disaster Relief Network, hired Director Steve Saunders, was admitted to the Texas Gulf Coast Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD), joined the Harris County Long-Term Recovery Committee, and welcomed 16 members including 13 faith communities, Cy-Fair Houston Chamber of Commerce, Cy Fair ISD, and Caldwell Companies.
Cy HopeDRN’s efforts will focus on case management, restoring homes, and spiritual care. They will help coordinate the long-term recovery of the Cy Fair region by recruiting and training volunteers in all facets of disaster recovery, managing and resourcing work projects, and coordinating housing and work projects for visiting work teams. Many network members have already begun hosting visiting volunteer work teams.
While the job of rebuilding is starting, Saunders expects the work to be in full swing in 2018. According to Saunders, “The process of returning the region to wholeness will take several years, and we will build the network to be here for the long haul.”
While Cy¬ HopeDRN was formed to help long-term rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey, once rebuilding is completed, it intends to maintain its structure to be able to provide a timely and coordinated response to future area disasters.
In order to help provide recovery efforts for hundreds of C¬y Fair area Hurricane Harvey survivors, Cy HopeDRN is in need of financial support. More information about the network is available on their website, www.chdrn.org, as well as on their Facebook page (@CyHopeDRN). Organizations interested in becoming members can email Steve Saunders (steve.saunders@cy hope.org).