Devereux Texas campuses recover following Hurricane Harvey
It took a village … but our Devereux Texas campuses are kicking off the New Year in their facilities which, last August, were fully evacuated and significantly damaged by Hurricane Harvey.
The evacuations, for both the Victoria and League City campus near Houston, included relocating entire functions and facilities that serve the needs of more than 200 children, adolescents and adults with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences – along with the more than 125 staff who care for them every day. Just a few challenges our teams faced during this process:
Thanks to staff from several Devereux centers, supportive community partners, local building contractors and generous donors, our Victoria and League City individuals and staff returned “home” in September and late December, respectively.
Hurricane causes significant damage
Both the Victoria and League City campuses evacuated to the Latham Springs Camp and Retreat Center near Waco, Texas, in late August, as Hurricane Harvey made landfall. Unprecedented rain and wind brought down large trees and utility poles, and caused severe flooding.
While the Victoria campus was evacuated for several weeks, the damage at League City was more significant. The majority of League City’s 11 buildings, including five residential buildings, Dining Hall, Gym, Outpatient Clinic and the Devereux School, had between five inches or more than two feet of floodwater that would require a more complex recovery, addressing structural, electrical, plumbing, HVAC and fire safety issues, plus the rebuilding of built-in dorm furniture. As a result, the 85 individuals and 30 staff members from the League City campus remained at the Latham Springs Camp for several months.
Sending relief staff; creating a 24-hour hotline
The logistics of handling an evacuation of this size were significant, to say the least. Employees from Devereux Florida and Devereux Georgia quickly mobilized, driving to Waco with additional supplies, satellite phones and relief staff so our Texas employees could focus on providing care. And employees from around the country flew in to assist.
In addition, our corporate and national teams, in partnership with Devereux Texas, set up and staffed a 24-hour emergency hotline so that concerned families, agencies and other sources could reach Devereux for regular updates, and individuals could communicate with loved ones. In the first 24 hours, the hotline team fielded more than 200 calls. Bilingual resources also were available to communicate with concerned family members.
Donors support the rebuilding effort
While insurance will play a role in the recovery efforts, the Devereux community quickly rallied to form and support the “Devereux Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief Fund.”
“Our amazing community of generous supporters raised more than $500,000 to help us restore the facility, continue our programs and perhaps, most importantly, bring a sense of stability back to the individuals we serve,” said Devereux Texas Executive Director Pam Reed.
As part of the relief effort, Devereux also established an employee fundraising drive to help those personally impacted. “I am so very proud of our Texas employees who demonstrated their commitment to Devereux’s values – providing the best care possible to our individuals – while suffering their own loss of homes and belongings,” continued Reed. “In my eyes, they are heroes.”
Final repairs and special thanks
While there is still a lot of work to be done at both campuses, the most significant repairs have been completed. Remaining restoration projects in League City are expected to be finished by the end of February and Victoria’s repairs will be completed in 2018 (due to damage sustained at its maintenance building).
“We are so excited to have everyone back at both campuses – especially our League City clients and staff who were displaced for 116 days at both the Latham Springs Camp in Waco and on our campus in Victoria,” added Reed. “The Victoria community and staff worked hard to support and help care for all of League City’s clients and staff. I am very proud of the entire Devereux Texas Network. Devereux Texas is coming back stronger and better than ever!”
In addition to dedicated staff, we will be forever grateful to the following community partners that were critical during the immediate evacuation in League City:
We would also like to recognize and give our heartfelt thanks to the generous donors for helping to ensure we can restore our campuses and bring a sense of normalcy back to the individuals in our care: