The Victoria County Long-Term Recovery Group continues to help residents one year after Hurricane Harvey, surpassing more than $1 million in assistance to families through its Unmet Needs Committee.

“We’ve hit a milestone,” said Chairman Tony Martinez, who is also the chief financial officer of the Diocese of Victoria.

Martinez updated the county’s long-term recovery group during a monthly meeting Friday at Gulf Bend Center.

Rick Villa, the group’s development coordinator, said he expects they collected another $7,000 in donations from the Victoria Strong concert Aug. 25, which drew about 2,000 to DeLeon Plaza.

While H-E-B and Outlaw Offroad of Texas were the biggest sponsors, he said many local businesses and the city of Victoria contributed in-kind donations that made the free anniversary event a success.

“It wasn’t really about the money,” said Communications Chairman Cody Shugart. “It was about getting our name out there and building community awareness about what we do.”

Villa also read a thank you note from a survivor that came with a $200 check. The Bloomington woman wanted to thank the group for repairing the ramp on her home and wrote that she tells everyone at church how the group helped her after Harvey.

Survivors get help through the Unmet Needs Committee, which formed as a way for organizations with disaster funding to hear individual cases and find direct ways to help them recover.

The $1 million allocated through the committee has funded disaster recovery expenses including repairs, reconstruction and replacement of furnishings but not the cost of volunteer labor.

The group meets every week and has funded 269 cases since the Category 4 storm struck Aug. 25, 2017.

Victoria County Long-Term Recovery Group

Victoria County Long-Term Recovery Group officers listen to updates from disaster recovery officials at a monthly meeting. The group formed one year ago in response to Hurricane Harvey and still works to help survivors recover from the storm.

Martinez said another $167,000 in funds within the past two months has been given to survivors in neighboring counties.

Local attorney Milton Chapman also attended the meeting to answer any questions about the group’s revised bylaws.

He is assisting the group with its internal operating paperwork as it applies for 501©(3) nonprofit status. He’s helped two other organizations in the community set up bylaws this year.

“This is wonderful, what you’re doing, and thanks for letting me be a little part of it,” he said.

The Victoria County United Way has been operating as the group’s fiscal agent since fall.

Dolly Stokes, the group’s treasurer and executive director of the United Way, reported that the group has about $240,000 left in funds to help survivors and is seeking additional grants.

There is a dire need for local volunteers who can commit to working a full day and building materials, she said.

The long-term recovery group is looking for someone to serve as secretary and plans to hire a volunteer recruiter/warehouse manager.

State Rep. Geanie Morrison also asked members to send her suggestions on any legislative changes that could reduce barriers during the next natural disaster.

Laura Garcia reports on health and nonprofits for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at lgarcia@vicad.com or 361-580-6585.

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Features Editor

Laura has covered health and nonprofits in the Crossroads since 2014. She's also mom to a toddler, loves journalism conferences and is a big fan of sci-fi and crime TV.

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