Hurricane Harvey - Humanitarian Fund
Report given to the Rockport-Fulton Chamber Foundation
(Rockport-Fulton, TX) The Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group (CBDRG) has presented reports on the $1.4 million of committed expenditures raised through donations initially deposited by the Rockport-Fulton Chamber Foundation (RFCF).
Donors of the fund began giving to the GoFundMe account established by the RFCF the day after Harvey made landfall Aug. 25, 2017.
At the request of the Emergency Management Team, it soon became the Humanitarian Fund and the repository for all donations for Aransas County. This was declared under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) directed by the Aransas County Judge Burt Mills to the RFCF.
The donors were individuals, corporations, non-profit organizations, and other foundations. The RFCF served as the collection point for the fund. It was never intended to distribute the funds. The RFCF provided this as a free service and donation of support for the residents of Aransas County, collecting no administration fees and receiving no reimbursement for supplies, postage, etc.
Originally, as stated in the MOU, the Aransas County Ministerial Alliance would distribute the funds through our local churches. The Aransas County Ministerial Alliance declared it did not have the capacity to distribute such funds in a fair and equitable way. It was then determined the funds should be sent for distribution to the organization created for this purpose in 2015, the Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group (CBDRG.) That organization’s financial repository is the Coastal Bend Community Foundation (CBCF), a well-respected long-standing organization representing the Coastal Bend for more than 35 years. An agreement between the RFCF, CBDRG and the CBCF was made to ensure all Humanitarian Funds would be restricted to exclusively help Aransas County residents rebuild their homes. After all, agreements had been vetted and signed, the RFCF released the funds to the CBCF in December 2017, just 112 days after the storm.
CBDRG Executive Director Warren E. Phipps, Jr. presents updates to RFCF’s meetings periodically. The CBDRG was established in 2015 to handle the long-term recovery of residential homes during major disasters striking the Coastal Bend. The organization had just completed work for the Nueces River floods just prior to Hurricane Harvey. Throughout the process, the RFCF and CBDRG received advice and support from the coordinators of the long-term recovery of the Bastrop Fires and the Wimberley Blanco River Flood.
The post-Hurricane Harvey funds have all been committed to repair and rebuild homes in Aransas County. To date, the RFCF is the largest contributor to the CBDRG thanks to the many donors and the tremendous outpouring of support to Aransas County.
“We were able to use volunteer groups to help us maximize the dollars as much as we possibly could. We are pleased at what we have accomplished. Most disasters of this magnitude take much longer to accomplish what we have. It’s been hard work for a lot of people, but it has been very heartwarming to say the least,” explains Phipps.
Volunteer groups working with CBDRG include Mennonites Disaster Services (Mennonites DS), Christian Public Service, Habitat for Humanity of Aransas County, Samaritan’s Purse, UMCOR, and Rebuild Texas Fund.
It is noteworthy that the entire $1.4 million collected in the Humanitarian Fund has been spent efficiently, effectively and exclusively on helping Aransas County residents rebuild their homes in the year following Hurricane Harvey.
Many organizations have been and will continue to be involved in the repair of homes and supporting our community and area.
UMCOR has helped with more than 400 homes and clocked 23,000 volunteer hours. Habitat for Humanity will be helping with 25 homes with the assistance of Citgo. Texas Baptist Men have not only helped hundreds but have served 1,200 meals a day during peak volunteer days. Hands of Hope has repaired 80-100 homes. All Hands Organization has helped more than 130 homes with more to come. Reach Global has impacted 14 homes in Aransas County and an additional 12 homes in the region. These groups and many other organizations have graciously come to assist our community in our time of need.
The Volunteer Reception Center (VRC), located at the First Baptist Church, under the direction of Cyndi Powell. It remains available for those needing assistance.
“It was a great inspirational time to see what can happen within one year,” states Tiffanie Hoover, chairman of the board of the Rockport-Fulton Chamber Foundation. “Our residents have gone through so much. It is comforting to know the dollars of the humanitarian fund were used to help repair residential homes and to know the dollars were stretched as far as they could go due to the incredible volunteers helping our community. We are extremely grateful to all, I am humbled by the generosity of the support our community has received” said Hoover.
The mission of the Rockport-Fulton Chamber Foundation is to support, encourage, develop, and enable through charitable programs the social welfare and improvement of Aransas County through education; training; resident, business and governmental involvement; leadership development; infrastructure enhancement and assisting the community with recovery from community-wide natural disasters.
For information on the Rockport-Fulton Chamber Foundation visit www.rockport-fulton.org/ChamberFoundation.