One million lives and counting

Published 4:19 pm Sunday, March 17, 2019

From staff reports


Since starting work in August 2017, the Rebuild Texas Fund has awarded $70.3 million across 193 community projects to impact 1,185,000 individuals in communities across all major program areas: housing, education, workforce, small business, health and community/economic development.

Specifically, the Rebuild Texas Fund has made a large commitment to the region, including Chambers, Hardin, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Newton, Orange, Polk, Sabine, San Jacinto, Tyler, Walker counties, with over $9.5 million awarded to date.

In a report issued titled, ‘One Million Lives and Counting’, the non-profit showed the progress it has made in the last 18 months.

Hurricane Harvey severely damaged Henderson Middle School leaving the building unsuitable for students and causing the school district to shuttle 525 students and 45 staff to other campuses. With Rebuild Texas Fund’s help and matching dollars from FEMA, the school district received $3,135,006 to help support temporary learning spaces and rebuild the middle school.

Hurricanes and other natural disasters can have long and harmful effects on the mental health of children and youth. With Rebuild Texas Fund’s help—to address the significantly higher rates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental illnesses that are now being seen in children and youth post-Hurricane Harvey—Texas Children’s Hospital is supporting three mental health programs in the Golden Triangle region that will directly support an estimated 4,300 students over two years.

Eighteen months after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, the report updated on progress made and priorities looking forward. With support from more than 33,000 donors, the fund raised $100 million to help Texas neighbors get on the path back to normalcy. One hundred percent of these donated resources are being put to work supporting the rebuilding priorities of local communities across the 41-county impact area. To date, Rebuild Texas Fund projects have directly impacted the lives of more than 1.1 million people through the 156 partner organizations.

The fund has been investing more than $130,000 a day, seven days a week, in Harvey-impacted communities and, at this rate, is on track to fully spend down the remaining funds by July 2019. As Texas Rebuild Fund finalizes its last rounds of funding, it will focus on projects that impacted communities have identified as most important: housing, community preparedness, and matching dollars for community infrastructure and education facilities.

Local supported organizations with completed projects are Vidor ISD with $40,800 serving 1,270 students, as well as Samaritan’s Purse with $150,000 serving 526 individuals and 175 homes repaired or rebuilt.

Hurricane Harvey impacted over 300 miles of the Gulf coastline, affecting 41 counties and over 8 million residents across the state. The storm cost in excess of $125 billion in total damages to the state.

Rebuild Texas Fund is a collaborative project of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and the OneStar Foundation. Established in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the fund has been supporting community rebuilding efforts since starting work in September 2017. The Rebuild Texas Fund continues to work hand-in-hand with local community leaders to identify priorities and needs and to provide financial support, expertise, and resources across six critical focus areas: Community & Economic Development, Education & Child Care, Health, Housing, Small Business, and Workforce & Transportation.

For Community and Economic Development projects for Orange County, the organization supported the Greater Orange Area Chamber of Commerce – Orange Bassmasters Event with $25,000. The event brought in 33,230 visitors.