Hurricane volunteer Texas

Texans heed Habitat's call for hurricane recovery

In the southern tip of Texas, people had planned for a direct hit from Hurricane Harvey. When it missed, they took a deep breath — then got right to work helping others who weren’t so lucky.

“People thought, ‘We were spared the brunt of the hurricane, so we need to do our part,’” says Wayne Lowry, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of the Rio Grande Valley.

Lowry knew that people had stocked up on water and diapers and other necessities in advance of the storm, so Habitat Rio Grande Valley put out the word on Facebook that it was collecting supplies for hard-hit areas. “What happened next just blew us away,” Lowry says.

People donated. And donated. And then they donated some more. “We have a 26-foot box truck, and we thought we would fill that,” Lowry says. To date, the community has donated enough to fill four semi trucks.

“We expected to collect 15 pallets worth of supplies, but we have collected 10 times that amount,” Lowry says. People also have contributed more than $12,000.

“People thought, ‘We were spared the brunt of the hurricane, so we need to do our part.’”
— Wayne Lowry, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of the Rio Grande Valley

Several of those semis have made their way three hours north to Victoria. “Wayne called right after the hurricane and said, ‘Don’t worry, we are here for you,’” says Cynthia Staley, president of Golden Crescent Habitat. “They have been amazing.”

Most of the 104 homes that Golden Crescent Habitat has built were damaged in the hurricane, 10 of them badly. For days, the community was without power and drinking water. Habitat Rio Grande Valley couldn’t do much about getting the lights on, but it did deliver to the community tons and tons of bottled water. And toilet paper. And school supplies. And baby wipes and formula. And granola bars. And on and on.

People were exhausted and shell-shocked when the first truck of supplies arrived. “All of these people were in desperate need and helped us unload the entire truck,” Lowry says. “I’ll never forget that.”

Habitat Rio Grande Valley also has sent trucks jammed with supplies to Corpus Christi and the Beaumont area, both of which Harvey hit hard. The contributions keep coming in, Lowry says. In fact, he has been working with a donor to purchase tools for Houston Habitat to have for its rebuilding efforts. And to think, all of this started with a simple Facebook post.

Texas state senator Eddie Lucio Jr. isn’t surprised by the outpouring of compassion. His district encompasses Habitat Rio Grande Valley, and he has joined forces with them to collect supplies, as has the local school district, TV station and hospital. “I believe in the goodness of people,” Lucio says. “And there is something else about giving. Once people understand that they made a difference, they will do it again. It catches on.”

The work in communities hard-hit by Harvey has only begun. Habitat is committed to helping affected families repair and rebuild for the long term. Read additional updates and find out how you can support this important effort.