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Hurricane Harvey – Commemorating What We Lost and How We Are Recovering

By Denise Bash, Director of Special Projects

Hurricane Harvey began as a barely concerning tropical depression on August 17th, 2017. By August 23rd it was a Category 1 hurricane with 80MPH winds that overnight into the 24th had developed into a treacherous Category 4 hurricane with sustained raging winds of 130-mph! On the 25th it made landfall in Texas unleashing massive devastation. The storm made its third and last landfall in Texas and Louisiana on August 29th with flooding rains in Arkansas as well. Harvey’s historic destruction caused $125 billion worth of damage, making it the second costliest hurricane in US history according to the National Hurricane Center. Harvey claimed the lives of 88 people in Texas alone, 106 total with all affected states combined. Winds, storm surge, flash floods, river flooding and a year’s worth of rain in one week (Think 27 trillion gallons of rain in six days) led to at least 60,000 displaced people and thousands of rescue missions for people and pets as well as other animals.

Carl, an Air Force veteran living in Beaumont, TX received aid from funded partner Team Rubicon volunteers after his home was devastated by 6 feet of flooding. Photo Credit Team Rubicon.

Our team at GreaterGood.org was furiously working on the response and continues to provide recovery funding to partners who are helping families rebuild. Our Rescue Bank team in Houston became displaced from their own homes (one permanently lost her’s). Rescue Bank had limited ability to enter our warehouses due to flooding. Our team sent in reinforcements to assist the warehouse crew, and while limping, we still managed to stay activated for disaster response. We were also able to provide critical funds to support boots on the ground teams providing life-saving services and recovery funding for rebuilding homes for at-risk populations. Our animal teams worked tirelessly to fund and work on logistics for the emergency flight transport of adoptable pets and cover emergency veterinary care for shelter and rescue pets that came in before the storm or were not claimed months after.

Percey was one of the thousands of pets for which GreaterGood.org funded veterinary care, enrichment toy supplies and transport. The Houston Humane Society rescued Percey. Photo Credit Houston Humane Society.

Little did we know when it began that it was the beginning of a historic hurricane season. With Irma and then Maria developing and devastating soon after Harvey, our staff  stayed on active disaster response activities until January, including extensively repairing two pet shelters that took on damage in Florida with our RescueRebuild team. Still, to this day we continue to fund recovery for all the storms for people and animals.

A natural disaster can impact any of us at any time. Its violent, furious nature immediately rallies us together to support all living things around us, to feed them, to shelter them, to comfort them. Please stand by GreaterGood.org and support the recovery. It takes many many months, often years to re-establish communities entirely after such devastation.  I cry writing this remembering the tears of those we assisted, the loss and despair. Together we can let them know that they are not forgotten. They are our neighbors, friends and countrymen and we must carry them to the finish line.

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