It’s been two years since Hurricane Harvey pounded the Texas coast, and it feels both like a minute and an eternity. Difficult events can have that effect on us, making the days feel long but the years feel short. Hurricane Harvey certainly left an indelible mark on our great state. One that I, for one, will never forget.
Hurricane Harvey presented an unprecedented challenge for Texas, a challenge that Texans, along with donors and volunteers from across the country and around the world, have risen to overcome. From Port Aransas to Port Arthur, people have come together to tackle the tough and often trying work of rebuilding lives and communities. They have embraced volunteer groups from around the country and globe, found new ways to collaborate with government, nonprofit, and corporate partners, prioritized needs, and simply gotten things done.
When the Rebuild Texas Fund launched in August 2017, it was a way for generous donors to channel their contributions, and to jump-start the hard work in devastated communities. This included corporations that donated large dollar amounts to the effort, along with hardworking people who waited for their Friday paychecks to donate $5 or $10. Every penny that was donated to the Rebuild Texas Fund has been put to good use to help those in need.
What has happened since August 25, 2017 has demonstrated the power of people helping people, in so many ways. I had the honor of meeting some of those inspiring people during my visits to Houston and the Texas coast. A mom who put her children on a boat to safety while the waters were still rising around her home. Volunteers who came from as near as Oklahoma and as far away as Maine to rebuild homes. And the executive director of a community center who was a volunteer but took over to run the organization when they desperately needed a leader in the wake of the storm. Stories like these have played out countless times over the last two years.
Thanks to incredible volunteers and donors, so much has been achieved in such a short period of time. Countless homes have been rebuilt. Schools have reopened. And communities are coming back stronger and more resilient than before. And, yet, of course, there is still work to be done – the wreckage of a $125 billion disaster cannot be repaired in just two years.
As I think back over these two years and the many people the Rebuild Texas Fund has helped, I am awed by the resourcefulness, dedication, and compassion I’ve seen play out time and time again. Michael and I have been honored to partner with the 156 organizations supported by the Rebuild Texas Fund, and we look forward to our final year working alongside communities as Rebuild Texas Fund projects come to completion.
As a state, we have always referred to ourselves as Texas Strong. Two years later, we are now Texas Stronger. I have no doubt that our strength and resilience will continue to grow because, as we all know, everything really is bigger in Texas.
To read the Rebuild Texas Fund 2-year report, please go here.