Hurricanes and Housing
There is no shortage of natural disasters that occur on planet earth, and in the past year alone Houston, south Florida, and the island of Puerto Rico have all been severely impacted by hurricanes. On a recent work camp trip to the Houston area, I was struck by the different ways that people are affected by disasters, and also by their ability to respond and recover from them. Hurricanes do not favor one socioeconomic group over another, they strike equally the well-to-do and those with very little.
As we drove through neighborhoods in Houston, it was obvious that the flooding from Hurricane Harvey had been worse in certain areas, and within those harder hit areas it was very noticeable that some homes seemed fine, and others, not so much. We quickly learned that those who had the resources to rebuild had already done so, while those without resources simply endured substandard conditions and waited for help, or became homeless because there was no help from which they could benefit.
Our group of fourteen volunteers were eager to get to work through the non-profit agency called the Fuller Center for Housing that evolved out of the vision of Millard Fuller, cofounder of Habitat for Humanity. We met a man named Eddy, whose three children had slept on stacks of drywall for weeks until there was volunteer labor to help him install the drywall and begin to make his shell of a house a home again. We met a Korean War veteran and his wheelchair bound wife, who had been trapped in their home by flood waters until neighbors rescued them. We worked on the home of a single mother of five, a nurse who was displaced along with her children and was living in a church building while her home was rebuilt from devastating mold. It was their eighth month without a home. As we drove back to Lancaster County, I felt fortunate to have a home to return to, I counted my many blessings, and gave thanks for that home.