Op-Ed: What If it Was Talbot County by Nancy Andrew

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As devastating images and stories continue to flow out of southeast Texas, I keep asking myself, “what if?” Surely I’m not alone in wondering how the people and places that I hold dear would weather such widespread destruction.

The long hard work of recovery is just beginning in Texas and Louisiana. As the storm clouds clear and the flood waters recede, Habitat for Humanity through its Disaster Response program is deploying mobile response units in partnership with other knowledgeable organizations to help bring back hope. Habitat has been doing disaster recovery work here in the United States for over 20 years as well as in over 50 countries around the world.

Within the storm’s footprint, there are 30 Habitat affiliates. Habitat for Humanity will work closely with its local affiliates to assess the damage, determine what is needed, and develop a response plan, and then to mobilize volunteers. Properly managing an influx of volunteers after a disaster can be challenging. Habitat is skilled in bringing people together for collective action. In turn, those volunteers can greatly increase Habitat’s overall ability to respond to and assist the affected individuals and families.

Day in and day out some 1,400 Habitat affiliates around the U.S. work to make it possible for hardworking low-income people to build or rehab a place they can call home. By providing, education, support and relationships, affiliates like Habitat Choptank empower individuals and families who can’t qualify for conventional financing to purchase a home with an affordable mortgage. A secure, affordable place to live can remove barriers to opportunity and health that may have been part of a family’s life for years, if not generations. Partnering with Habitat puts adults and children on a new path – one where stability and self-reliance are actually obtainable, not merely aspirational.

At its core, the Habitat mission is based on an understanding that safe, reliable shelter – a place to call home – is something we all need. Housing builds resiliency in people and in turn their communities but like good health, housing is one of those things that when we have it, we are most likely to take it for granted. When a disaster strikes, the loss of a home can leave people at their most vulnerable. Habitat for Humanity works to rebuild communities in these circumstances, moving them from ruin to recovery.

Right now, the most basic needs may be scarce and dire for thousands of people across southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana: health, water, shelter, sanitation, livelihoods, safety and education. Helping them get back into homes will provide the foundation from which these things can begin to reemerge during the relief and rebuilding process.

To learn more about how you can join with Habitat for Humanity for the recovery following Hurricane Harvey, please visit here

Nancy Andrew is the Executive Director of Habitat of Humanity Choptank.  To learn more about how you can join with Habitat for Humanity for the recovery following Hurricane Harvey, visit here

 

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