Recovery group irons out process

Members of the Victoria County Long Term Recovery Group discuss programs to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

A nonprofit organization could be in Victoria in January to do a needs assessment of the community after Hurricane Harvey.

World Renew will not charge The Victoria County Long Term Recovery Group to obtain detailed information and will provide a detailed estimate of the total cost of recovery.

The information collected by World Renew will be used by the long-term recovery group to apply for grants, which will help the group qualify for recovery funds, said Mark Longoria, recovery group chairman.

World Renew is the disaster response agency of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. The organization has responded to disasters worldwide for the past 55 years.

"How big is this problem? We still don't really know," said Dolly Stokes, secretary/treasurer of the group and executive director of the Victoria County United Way.

But a glimpse at the impact could be seen in a report by Assistant City Manager John Kaminski at the group's meeting Friday.

He said in the three months since Harvey, the city issued 4,227 building permits. By comparison, the city processes about 3,700 permits in an average year.

More than 2,700 homes within the city limits are getting new roofs. Many homeowners are still waiting on contractors, Kaminski said.

"I know full well that there are a lot of people still waiting in line, so that's going to be a much bigger number," he said.

The city is still waiting to hear from the company that manages the city's landfill to see if they could donate the cost of disposal fees, Kaminski said.

In a separate issue, the City Council will consider Dec. 19 whether to temporarily waive the fees to pick up brush and bulky items at households that are referred through the long-term recovery group.

Stokes said a donor dropped off a $1,000 check Monday, which leaves the group's account with $7,995.17.

Councilwoman Josephine Solis said private donors had also contacted the city to donate, and those funds can be expected to be directed to the group soon. Solis, who serves as co-chair of the finance committee, said the committee has discussed whether it should form its own nonprofit.

Victoria County United Way serves as the group's fiscal agent.

Stokes said she had no objection to that but suggested they also look into starting a foundation as other cities have done.

In the meantime, the group continues to direct resources to assist residents with unmet needs.

Stokes said one of the biggest unknowns is the overall impact on residents.

Several organizations are working to bring in case managers and workers to work through the files of families who may be in need.

St. Vincent de Paul plans to help nine additional families in the county with its "House in a Box" program Saturday.

The group also discussed ways to bring in volunteers. Volunteer Management Chair Curtis Hauser is reaching out to universities and churches across the country.

Longoria said he will set up a phone line so Hauser can coordinate with volunteer groups.

Communications Chair Cody Shugart started a Facebook page for the group, set up an email account and will register for a post office box.

Longoria said he was pleased with the progress the group has made and stressed the need for more volunteers to serve on committees.

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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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