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Work continues in Houston, but Watt’s impact has been immense.
J.J. Watt started a movement in 2017 in the wake of Hurricane Harvey when a $200,000 crowdfunding effort started by the Texans’ All-Pro led over 200,000 people donating over $37 million to take his efforts up to $41.6 million in donations from around the world. Now, a year after the money was put to work Watt is showing what those donations did for the community.
Watt partnered with numerous organizations to work on the distribution of the funds, including Save the Children, Habitat for Humanity and Feeding America. The coordination helped significantly in assisting at a time people needed it the most.
Hurricane Harvey Relief:One Year Update pic.twitter.com/eSiOG4TT26
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) August 27, 2018
According to the figures provided by Watt this is what what $41.6 million has done:
Clean up and repair of 600 homes.
Rebuilding 420 childcare centers servicing over 16,000 children.
26,000,000 meals distributed to needy families and individuals.
Physical and mental health services for 6,500 people.
Medicine for 10,000 people.
If you donated your money, time — anything, then know that you directly helped the people of Houston. That said, it’s important not to lose sight of the bigger picture, in which Watt’s efforts helped immensely, but there is so much more to be done. We can still celebrate the work J.J. Watt and the organizations did, while not ignoring the people trying every day to reconstruct their lives in nearly-impossible circumstances.
The work is not done.
This weekend the Washington Post ran a story detailing the tens-of-thousands of people still dealing with the aftermath of the storm. Families who are forced to live in homes under dangerous conditions, doing their best to repair what they have a make their homes livable again.
These people can’t afford repairs. Few bought flood insurance, blindsiding the majority of those effected. Some have received assistance from FEMA, but in the case of Carolyn James, who was detailed in the story, her $30,000 of assistance from FEMA barely puts a dent in the $141,000 in estimated repairs that need to be done to make her home livable again.
These are the “Harvey Homeless,” people who might physically have a house in the literal sense, but in practicality they do not resemble homes. Susan and David Elliott only have a few rooms in their house that are safe to live in — and reconstructing what they had is a day-by-day effort, one year after the storm.
Meanwhile local government is feeling the pain as well, which the Houston Chronicle detailed this weekend. Officials are trying to decide how to fix its flood infrastructure to stop widespread damage again, but there are arguments over the height of proposed levees, and differing views of how to best flood-proof Houston. That’s before discussing issues with lawmakers deciding how to best spend the $2.5 billion earmarked for protecting from this kind of disaster again.
What can you do to help?
It’s natural for a tragedy like Harvey to be forgotten about after news crews leave and we aren’t reminded daily of what’s happening. For those removed from Houston it’s difficult to comprehend the work that still needs to be done.
CharityNavigator.org has a list of organizations continuing to do work in Houston related to Hurricane Harvey relief. These range from humanitarian aid, to organizations directly distributing funds to individuals to help get their lives back together.
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