Rockport – Almost two years after Hurricane Harvey hit, areas within the Coastal Bend are still recovering from damages. Wanting to fully rebuild the communities affected by the Category 4 hurricane, the Rebuild Texas Fund is working alongside these communities up to three years after the storm.
Cristina Cornejo, program officer of the Rebuild Texas Fund, discussed what that group does and how it was created.
“We were created out of Hurricane Harvey,” Cornejo said. “And Michael and Susan Dell came together they saw what was happening, especially in his hometown of Houston. And they said, there’s something we have to do to help this effort.”
The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation collaborated with OneStar Foundation to raise $100 million for the Rebuild Texas Fund.
“We set that and raised that by the one-year anniversary last year,” said Cornejo. “And we have been making grants since October of 2017.”
As of June 12, Rebuild Texas Fund has awarded $86,255,967 to grantees. Region 5, which contains Kleberg, Nueces, San Patricio, Aransas and Bee counties, has been awarded $9,927,297.
Cornejo assesses the needs of 22 counties by visiting them and finding organizations that have projects to help affected areas.
“We go through and figure out what the problems are, and then figure out who the players are, in order to attain funding,” Cornejo said.
There are six focus areas Rebuild Texas Funds fund specifically such as community & economic development, housing, education & child care, health, workforce & transportation and small business.
Cornejo talked about the work Hands of Hope in Rockport and The Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group are doing for the area.
“[Hands of Hope] work in all sorts of spheres; they have done home demolitions is what we funded them for,” said Cornejo. “So, they work with an amazing demolition group here called Mockingbird. And so they do demolitions, home repairs, case management and helping people kind of assess what their problems are, where they need to find, you know, sources to assist them.”
The Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group has been funded twice for manufactured homes.
“So what we’ve done is for those that were completely destroyed, we’ve taken a new manufactured home to replace their old destroyed one,” Cornejo said.
According to Cyndi Powell, executive director of Hands of Hope, they are currently doing a project in San Patricio County.
“Right now we’re doing a demo for a lady who’s getting a new trailer and to coordinate that Rio, Texas funded the trailer, Catholic Charities, they’re the ones who vetted the person and got everything set for them,” Powell said. “We provided the demo. And then the volunteers to help her move all our stuff out, get her back in that kind of thing.”
Additionally, Hands of Hope is finishing another project in Sinton.
Powell says the volunteers play a huge role in the projects. All the demolition work done by Hands of Hope is through volunteers.
The Rebuild Texas Fund will be going through its last round of funding in July.
“We’re very thankful for all the partners that we have. And, you know, we look forward to seeing these grantees for the last year,” Cornejo said.
From August 2019 to August 2020, Rebuild Texas Fund will be focusing on grant management and seeing the projects come to fruition.
“We look forward to working with the communities for that, you know, our final year as a fund to make sure that you know, everything’s in play and that things are moving smoothly,” Cornejo said.