Rebuilding Houston, One Home at a Time

According to USA Today, Hurricane Harvey’s nearly $200 billion in damages is greater than that of Hurricane Katrina or Superstorm Sandy.

But the damage from the storm that blasted Houston, Texas, in 2017 in late August and late September may be better measured by the human face of the damage.

Nearly 70 people lost their lives due to the storm’s adverse affect, and the thousands who survived were left wondering how to continue on with life after the storm. Too many families lost their homes, possessions, pets, and sense of security and stability.

And for many families living in Houston, East Houston especially, they were left with no place to go but the homes that had been damaged in the storm. Even now in summer 2019, nearly two years after Harvey hit, families continue to live in damaged homes that constitute sub-par living situations.

Families who worked their entire lives to invest in a modest home do not have enough insurance money, time off work, or personal resources to undertake the major repairs, such as drywall, roofing, and foundational work, that is needed to bring their homes back up to a safe living standard.

These same families often have a sense of humble self-worth, personal dignity and good-natured pride that prevents them from revealing their need or asking for a helping hand.

That’s where Islamic Relief USA comes in: our goal is to pair families in need with the resources they deserve to help them get back to the quality of life they deserve.

Islamic Relief USA’s mission to provide humanitarian relief in a way that maintains the dignity of the recipients is part and parcel of the mission of it’s Disaster Response Team (DRT), which has taken on the long-term recovery task of rebuilding homes in Houston.

“Hurricane Harvey upended the lives of many residents in the greater Houston area,” said Anwar Khan, president of Islamic Relief USA. “Islamic Relief USA remains committed to the residents who have suffered and lost so much. Their resilience is admirable and we want to help them rebuild their lives, grow spiritually, and come together for the common good to make the area and their lives even better than it was before the devastating storm.”

Homes are rebuilt free of charge, by a team of trained and dedicated volunteers. IRUSA selects which homes will be rebuilt by identifying the most vulnerable members of the community, including those with disabilities, the elderly, and more.

In late 2018, Islamic Relief USA received a nearly $500,000 grant from the American Red Cross to support the infrastructure of the project, which occurs in partnership with SBP (originally St. Bernard Project). The funds are being used to provide a dormitory for volunteers to stay in as they rebuild.

“We are extremely pleased to receive this grant from such a respected organization and partner,” said Hani Hamwi, who manages the Disaster Response Team at Islamic Relief USA. “The American Red Cross has supported Islamic Relief USA every step of the way, and this grant is a clear sign that they value the work we do, and most importantly, our partnership.”

Islamic Relief USA has re-built many homes to date, and its next group of volunteers will be going for 7-Day Deployments beginning in July 2019. To join, check out the opportunities (along with other volunteer opportunities) here.

Article written by:

Kelly is part of the Communications & External Relations team at Islamic Relief USA.