Roy Gilpatrick, a retired military veteran from Victoria, attended the monthly Victoria County Long-Term Recovery Group meeting Friday to express his appreciation for the help he received from a Lutheran youth group from Round Rock.
Gilpatrick and his wife, who is bedridden, paid off their house before Hurricane Harvey hit. When their house was damaged by the storm, Gilpatrick did not have insurance, but he did have good credit. He qualified for SBA loans to make the repairs, but he was cautious and declined the entire loan amount offered. He ended up a tad short of money in the end, but the Round Rock group helped make up the difference. They painted the lower areas of the walls that Gilpatrick could not bend to reach with his bad knees. And they cleaned his yard and cut and hauled off trees.
“They were awesome – ‘yes sir, no sir’ ... they came in and finished it off,” Gilpatrick said. “Thank God and thank y’all.”
Daniel Harasim, volunteer coordinator for the Long-Term Recovery Group, said 121 volunteers signed up in July. He reported that 553 total volunteers have donated 3,918 total hours from January to July. The representative from the Golden Crescent Regional Planning Commission said the organization is looking for volunteers to provide input about planning and coordination for future disasters.
Two World Renew representatives attended the meeting and discussed the potential for future involvement in recovery efforts with the group’s leadership later in the day. The faith-based organization conducted assessments in the area earlier in the recovery process, which resulted in identifying hundreds of families in need and opening more than 100 new cases. The assessments helped not only with case management but also with obtaining grants.
The World Renew representatives expressed interest in sending volunteer teams to help with construction efforts in Victoria and Calhoun counties. Although Calhoun County has a recovery group of its own, the Victoria County Long-Term Recovery Group’s unmet needs committee has helped support the coastal community with funding, said Mark Longoria, the Long-Term Recovery Group president and deputy district director for Congressman Michael Cloud.
Travis Hawes, project manager for the Victoria County’s recovery group, reported the contractor has started laying sewer lines for Hope Meadows subdivision in Bloomington. And after a meeting with AEP, he learned that the electrical wiring also will be underground.
“No poles, no wires; it’s going to be real clean and neat,” Hawes said. “We want the area to be nice for the families coming in.”
Hope Meadows, a $4.6 million, 40-house subdivision being built for families still struggling to recover after Hurricane Harvey, received five new applications in July for a total of 10. Ashley Razor, disaster case manager for the Long-Term Recovery Group, said three of the applications were referrals after two neighborhood meetings in July – one in Victoria and the other in Bloomington. The referrals came from the three other disaster relief agencies, St. Vincent de Paul, Lutheran Social Services and Rio Texas UMCOR.
“That’s teamwork, and we know that whenever we work together, bigger things happen outside of ourselves,” Longoria said.
The Long-Term Recovery Group has brought many organizations together under one umbrella to coordinate efforts and make sure no one is left behind, Longoria said. And case management is key in all recovery efforts.
“You guys walk the survivors through from the very beginning to the very end,” he said. “Thank you so much for all you do, all the employees you oversee and all the training you provide.”