Foundation Beyond Belief’s (FBB) Humanist Disaster Recovery raised funds to assist those most in need in the wake of hurricane damage from multiple hurricanes hitting the United States and the Caribbean in fall 2017.
One such storm, Hurricane Harvey, surpassed all rainfall predictions, and according to the University of Wisconsin - Madison CIMSS was a thousand year storm. South Texas has had three five-hundred-year flooding events in the last three years, including Harvey.
Harvey dropped about 27 trillion gallons of rainwater over Texas and Louisiana over the course of just six days. In South Texas, Harvey dumped 51 inches of rain, a record for landfalling tropical systems in the lower 48 states. To put that number in perspective, typically Houston gets an average of 49.77 inches of rainfall in a whole year.
According to CNN, about a million people have evacuated their homes, and approximately 72,000 people have been rescued. Rescue efforts are still underway, but the death toll as of Friday, 9/1, was 47 and is expected to rise.
FEMA estimates that 450,000 people will apply for assistance. About 80% of Texans do not have flood insurance. There are currently 33,800 people living in temporary shelters. Approximately 200,000 people are still without power as of 9/1.
While the Houston Mayor's claim of "open for business" might seem overly optimistic, or even naive, to some Houston residents, Houston does seem to be turning a corner. The waters are receding, and the city is coming together to utilize their great resources to begin the recovery process. Houston's neighboring towns could use more interventions, however. As of right now, 33 counties in Texas have declared federal disaster. In Beaumont, 135,000 people are without running water. The pump failures and subsequent water outage forced the closure of Beaumont's hospital, including emergency services. Patients are being evacuated by ambulance or helicopter to other hospitals. Authorities in Beaumont are unable to estimate when water services will return. In Port Arthur, people were unable to evacuate due to flooded roads, and those who fled flooded homes to a local shelter soon found themselves in thigh-deep water at the shelter. In nearby Crosby, a flooded chemical plant has already had one blast, and officials have warned more may come. The flooding cut power to their cooling systems, leaving certain chemical waste products vulnerable to combustion.
Harvey is estimated to be one of the costliest storm the U.S. has experienced, with eventual losses estimated between 75 and 125 billion. The toll of human suffering cannot be calculated. We have a few Beyond Belief Network teams in the area providing relief efforts, and we're grateful the Humanists of Houston and the South Texas Atheists for Reason are assisting their neighbors in need.
We are so pleased to announce that with your help, FBB will be disbursing initial grants totaling $60,000 to four organizations working on Hurricane Harvey Recovery, with additional grants pending final donation totals. The beneficiaries are All Hands Volunteers - $25,000, BakerRipley - $25,000, and The Montrose Center - $10,000.
FBB thanks the American Humanist Association for supporting this Humanist Disaster Recovery effort.