“I lost all of my baby pictures. Everything is gone.”
I tried to hold back tears as I talked on the phone with my aunt. It was not my turn to cry. I asked her the next question.
“Are your cars drivable?”
“Do you have flood insurance?”
“No, just homeowners.”
Homeowners insurance will not cover flooding.
The only thing I can do for my aunt and uncle at this point is help them complete their online application for disaster relief. My small town is a virtual island in a sea of flood water. We are cut off from family, friends, and supplies. With my father-in-law in Orange County and my brother in Mid County, both with water in their homes, we have felt helpless, unable to reach them to offer any assistance. This small thing made me feel useful.
Thousands of people in the Golden Triangle area—Beaumont, Port Arthur, Orange, and the surrounding counties—are in the same situation as my aunt and uncle, my father-in-law, and my brother. They have lost everything.
I am a life-long resident of Southeast Texas. I have never seen anything like the devastation left behind by Hurricane Harvey, and I lived through both Hurricanes Rita and Ike and Tropical Storm Alison. Homes were destroyed. Roads and bridges were washed away. The water still stands. A complete assessment of the destruction will take months and will quite possibly be the most costly natural disaster ever encountered by the United States.
I sit in my dry home weary and heavy-hearted at the thought of what it will take to rebuild—the man hours, money, building materials. It will be years before our community is rebuilt and we know it will never be the same. For Southeast Texans, there will always be a “before Harvey” and an “after Harvey.” Our lives and landscape are forever changed.
I worry about housing for the displaced, jobs for the unemployed because of the storm, when fuel, groceries, and other supplies will be delivered to our area… The worries and needs are endless. We are so thankful for the volunteers who have traveled from all over the United States to evacuate our residents, volunteer in shelters, and hand out food and water, but we know that this is not enough.
I am asked multiple times per day, “How can I help? What do you need?” Your donations to agencies that assist Golden Triangle residents are appreciated and can be made to:
- Southeast Texas Food Bank
- Family Services of Southeast Texas
- United Way of Beaumont and North Jefferson County
- Salvation Army USA
- The Humane Society of Southeast Texas
- All God’s Creatures
- Catholic Charities USA
- National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
- Legacy Community Health
Amid so much devastation, it is easy to overlook smaller communities. Donations to national agencies may be designated for specific areas (Jefferson County, Orange County, and Hardin County).