Work together to recover, rebuild
By Jackie Rhone - Guest Column
Oct. 9, 2017 at 3:36 p.m.
Updated Oct. 10, 2017 at 6 a.m.
Young or old, rich or poor, homeowner or renter - Hurricane Harvey didn't discriminate. It wreaked havoc on anyone and everyone in its path. Like many, I had to evacuate from my home, and my parents were evacuated with help from neighbors, their home a total loss. Now that the floodwaters have receded, it is time to begin the long and difficult process of repair and recovery.
Many have stepped up in a tremendous way to support relief and recovery operations, including those who are specifically assisting people who have lost their homes. The Texas Apartment Association (TAA) and apartment associations across Texas have contributed more than $100,000 to relief and recovery efforts so far. Member companies have set up websites to help displaced Texans find available housing and together have donated more than $1 million to various relief organizations, such as the Greater Houston Community Foundation Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, American Red Cross, United Way of Greater Houston and Operation HOPE Disaster Relief Fund.
With so many in our coastal communities affected by Harvey, there have been questions about how Texas law and leases address flooding issues. That information can be found on the TAA website (taa.org) as well as additional resources for Texans who need assistance in these difficult times. The website will continue to be updated as the situation evolves and more information is available.
While it's a difficult time, Texans are working together to help those in need. Although many properties were damaged, Texas Apartment Association members are waiving late fees, working with their displaced residents to help them find new housing, and, when possible, making units available for others who've been displaced as well as those helping with relief efforts - all while assisting their employees who have been affected by Harvey. Keep in mind that they too were not spared from Harvey's destruction.
I've heard many stories of members going above and beyond, such as a leasing agent who clearly put the property's residents first during Hurricane Harvey. An anonymous resident posted the following: ". he walked in high water to help residents, pushed cars out of the water, cleaned out drains, went to check apartments, gave out personal food that he had, gave his personal (cell) number." The resident learned that the leasing agent's own apartment was flooded and he lost a family member during the storm.
Recovery will not happen overnight but by working together, recognizing our shared experiences and prioritizing the rebuilding of housing, we'll have a jump start on the process. The 11,000 members of the Texas Apartment Association stand ready to work with those impacted by Hurricane Harvey to repair and rebuild our area's housing.
It's going to be a long road. But we all have the same goal - to rebuild and recover. Let's get it done.
Jackie Rhone, CAPS, CPM, is president of the Texas Apartment Association. She may be contacted at 512-479-6252.