The devastation of Hurricane Harvey has been a heavily discussed topic over the last two weeks and rightfully so. With winds clocking around 111 mph and a constant downpour of rain totaling 15 trillion gallons, Texas faced one of the worst hurricanes in its history. Harvey left houses and business demolished, as well as scores of people dangerously stranded in (or on the roof) of their flooded homes, anxiously awaiting rescue.
Rolling out spoke with Deavra Daughtry, a proud Houstonian and owner of multiple businesses, to get a firsthand account of what transpired in Texas and the long road of rebuilding her state is currently facing. Having lost her administrative office and under the strain of still needing to provide livelihoods for her employees and vital care for her patients, we were grateful she took time out to candidly speak with us.
How bad was your business affected by Hurricane Harvey?
The administration office was flooded and we lost everything; furniture, our administrative files … everything.
How has it been coping with that?
As a business owner, I don’t have the luxury of only worrying about myself. I have over 1,000 employees that depend on my business for their livelihood. And being an in-home healthcare company, many of our patients are elderly, so doing welfare checks is hard when the roads are flooded.
Were you all given ample notification to evacuate due to the hurricane? There were accusations that the severity of the situation was downplayed.
I want to note that we technically didn’t get the hurricane, Corpus Christi did. What we received was the rain produced from it.There was no way of knowing how much rain we’d receive or the severity of the situation it would cause. If evacuation orders were put in place, we would have had more fatalities due to the flooding of the highways. Houston is the fourth most populated city in the United States. An evacuation order could have resulted in more deaths.
Was social media a help or hindrance throughout this ordeal? There was information overload through so many sources. Were you tuning into the hashtags to stay abreast of what was going on or going to the larger networks?
I was able to locate many of my employees to make sure they were safe through social media, so I’m thankful for that. But when looking for accurate information, it’s always best to go the larger networks.
Houston will have a long road to recovery after all of this; even after the world forgets what transpired. Do you think the media will continue to cover this after the sensationalism has dwindled?
There are three stages of the recovery process: First, the rescue.The rescue will always receive the most attention because people like to see dramatics. Seeing people being rescued in boats and hearing firsthand accounts of what’s going on is exciting.Then there’s the rebuilding stage when people go into their homes and businesses to assess the damage and rummage through what’s left.That part won’t be televised as much because from the outside it’s just people and their stuff. But to us, it’s not just stuff. It’s memories; it’s the first office chair you brought for your business.
After that is the emotional stage.What happened here was catastrophic. People really lost it all; everything they owned in some cases. After the adrenaline wears off they will have to deal with the emotional scars. When the second and third stages are happening, the media will be covering something else.
Speaking of rebuilding, there is speculation that the insurance companies are going to make it hard to file claims. Is there any truth to this?
We sit on the Buffalo Bayou, that’s why it’s called the Bayou city, but it never floods. This is why people didn’t have flood insurance in some of those areas. See this flood was a once in a 500 years type of flood; there was no way of anticipating this. With no flood insurance or good credit, there will be difficulty for many to start over but it’s possible. The Houston support has been outstanding.
The people of Houston have already set the tone for positive interactions with the insurance companies. We’re a strong city and have remained positive and supportive of each throughout all of this.
Celebrities and numerous organizations have begun raising funds for Houston. The Red Cross is being called out for misappropriating funds, therefore there is an urgency to get funds to organizations that will ensure 100 percent of the funds go directly to the people in need. Is the money being raised actually reaching the people?
When giving, you have to give to organizations that [have] been tested and approved. I also believe that the celebrities and organizations involved in the relief funding have done a great job of making sure the funds raised are getting to the people in need. My nonprofit organization, TWEF, has been giving 100 percent back to the community since its inception 15 years ago. We’ve given over $100K in scholarships. I personally used $800K of my own resources for a community center for families.
How can the general public make donations to Houston through TWEF?
We are accepting donations for the Harvey Relief Fund at http://twef.org/donation/. The donations will go directly to assisting families in need.
You can also support the TWEF Harvey Relief Celebration of Community and Families on Oct. 13, 14 in Houston. Details at http://twef.org/what-we-offer/ifls-connect/ or by calling 832.434.5325. Special guests will include: Mayor Sylvester Turner; David Loving, general manager of Univision; Willard Jackson, EBONY magazine; Michelle Thornton, BET Network; D’Artagnan Bebel, FOX TV; Grammy Award-winning [singer] Estelle; [and] John and Aventer Gray, Lakewood Church.
Many Houstonians have lost everything they’ve ever worked for. We must also keep in mind that in this current economy, some of them were already struggling to make ends meet before the total devastation of Hurricane Harvey. If you have it to bless others, the people of Houston need more than our prayers and social media hashtags. They need monetary donations, as well as donations of water, clothes, and hygiene necessities to name a few. Whether your donation is through TWEF, or any other organization with a track record of providing for those in need, please give because we’re all we’ve got.