Recovery group, Habitat for Humanity to partner on 13 more Harvey homes in Aransas County

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July 19, 2018 | Julie Garcia, Corpus Christi Caller-Times

After natural disasters, there are always people who fall through the cracks.

But the Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group and Aransas County Habitat for Humanity are making sure no one is forgotten — even 11 months after Hurricane Harvey.

In addition to 26 ongoing “critical repair” projects, there are 13 repair-and-rebuild projects in Aransas County starting soon through a partnership between the two local groups.

“We always have to carry on (working) even while we celebrate victories,” said Warren Phipps, executive director of the recovery group. “There are a large number of people that we’re not able to help yet, but we are working feverishly to get to them.”

The recovery group is a Coastal Bend-based nonprofit corporation that partners with faith-based organizations, government and other agencies after disasters designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The group provides funding and case management to individuals who may not have been completely served by state resources or FEMA.

The home-builds started with a $1.4 million donation from Citgo months ago, but the additional 13 homes are being funded by other donations and grants to the recovery group.

The group is funding the new 13-home project and providing case management. Habitat is providing the construction management with a majority of skilled workers, said Patty Butters, executive director.

“We build very sustainable housing; we are able to go in there with certain building standards, not only just (Texas Windstorm Insurance Association) like Fortified Standards,” she said. “Everything is a step above with keeping up windstorm code. We go beyond even TWIA’s codes to make sure the roofs are going to make it through the next storm.”

The Aransas County Habitat for Humanity partnered with the Habitat branches in Buda and Fort Worth to expand its capabilities following Harvey.

A typical home-build from the studs will take about 4-7 weeks, Butters said.

All the clients have been contacted and interviewed to meet eligibility of both organizations, Phipps said. All of them owned their homes in Aransas County.

“These are low-income vulnerable families, which means some have an elderly member or one of them is a single parent or one is disabled,” Phipps said. “They don’t have the assets to recover on their own.”

At the recovery group’s general meeting Wednesday, board president Beth Tatum went over donations, grants, disbursements and other financials.

Since Jan. 1, $271,000 has been donated to the group specially for Harvey recovery, and $1.6 million has been granted from private agencies.

More than $1 million is currently being held by the Coastal Bend Community Foundation for the group, and it has $562,000 in cash for its current projects.

With 97 construction projects ongoing in six Coastal Bend counties, the group expects to pay nearly $4 million total to finish them all. Twenty have been completed, and 77 are in different stages of completion.

“We have some more money coming in from Samaritan’s Purse ($1.17 million for 15 homes),” Phipps said.

About $454,000 will be donated by Rebuild Texas for 11 manufactured homes for ongoing projects, he said.

A homeowner in Refugio will receive keys to a house that was completely rebuilt through the group’s funding and coordination. The ceremony will likely be Aug. 10.