Lopez moves into newly rebuilt home days before two year Harvey anniversary
Rosa Linda Lopez moved into her brand-new home thanks to partnering long-term recovery organizations working to bring families back home after Hurricane Harvey across the Coastal Bend. Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group (CBDRG), Christian Public Services (CPS), Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS), and the Coastal Bend Food Bank all contributed to making today’s dedication possible.
Lopez has lived in her home for over 30 years. During the hurricane, she evacuated with family members to Hondo, Texas. Upon returning home, fallen trees covered her yard, her fence was blown away and her home was left in an inhabitable condition. There were multiple holes in the roof and mold was already beginning to grow in several places throughout the house. She’s been living with her daughter since the storm and during construction. Lopez was able to choose the floors, external paint and door color, countertops, cabinets and appliance color in her new home.
Lopez was surrounded by her family as she received the keys to her new home. She asked her disaster case manager, Sheryl, to read a thank you letter for her because she was overwhelmed with emotion. The letter reads:
I would like to thank everyone who has been a part of making this happen. I never thought I would ever get a new home built for me. This means everything to me. There are no words to explain how I feel. I’m very thankful God has blessed me with each and every one of you to make this day possible.
Funding for the home came through a donation from the family of the late Howard E. Butt, Jr. CPS initially began construction on Lopez’ home and MDS was soon to follow. The completion of her home came through a number of different volunteer groups including Apple Valley Catholic Diocese – Boston, Gulf Coast Growth Ventures, Central Texas Conference Youth Mission and Eagle Scout Troop #855 – San Antonio. Additionally, the Coastal Bend Food Bank stocked the pantry and the refrigerator for the family.
“The coalition is still working to identify families unable to recover on their own,” shared Warren Phipps, executive director of CBDRG. “Two years after Hurricane Harvey, now more than ever we must stick by our three core focuses: help families return to safe, secure and habitable homes; keep the community together; and bring resiliency to the community.”
Over the last two years, CBDRG has worked along-side many other organizations to rebuild 37 homes, replace 40 manufactured homes and complete 92 repairs. They’ve been able to assist over 370 families with recovery efforts and have recorded over 116,000 hours in volunteer labor.
San Patricio County Commissioner and CBDRG Board Member, Howard Gillespie, shared the importance of long-term recovery organizations and why support for these group is still needed. “We’ve been assisting with recovery efforts for two years now. I’m the chairman of the disaster case management committee and we review cases every two weeks before they go to the unmet needs table. There are still people out there who need assistance. We review anywhere from 15 to 30 cases throughout the Coastal Bend area. As an organization and as part of a coalition, we want to be able to help as many families as we can until our community is fully recovered.”
“A few days after Hurricane Harvey rolled ashore, a big group of us met in Rockport and there were people advocating for CBDRG with knowing what we were doing in long-term recovery,” shared Rev. Beth Tatum, CBDRG Board President. “As I look back on the past two years, what I can say is we are South Texans. We are people who believe in community and working together. We worked hard and we continue to work hard. This would not be possible without all of the resources that come together and make it happen.”
CBDRG, in partnership with several other non-profits, has completed 168 major home reconstruction projects thus far and is continuing to work on another 48 on-going projects. All of this is possible, thanks to the generous donors and hardworking volunteers. CBDRG continues to seek volunteers who range from skilled laborers to general help. To learn more about the CBDRG and to fill open volunteer positions, visit www.coastalbenddrg.org/volunteer.