On September 14, I received a call from Habitat for Humanity International CEO, Jonathan Reckford, asking if I would consider a 4 week temporary assignment to help Habitat plan its response to the devastation caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in Texas and Florida. I gave it some quick thought and checked in with my family and our Habitat Wake board and leadership team and accepted the assignment.
Since I arrived in Atlanta on September 20, another major hurricane was added to the list as Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These storms have caused an unprecedented level of damage to existing Habitat for Humanity homes from Houston to Beaumont in Texas and from the Florida Keys to along the southwest coast of Florida and, of course, Puerto Rico. 176 Habitat homes in Houston were flooded and over 800 Habitat homes in Collier County, Florida were damaged by the hurricane winds.
Habitat for Humanity’s work lies in the long-term recovery phase of a disaster response. Damage assessments have been made and responses are being planned while the needed funds are being raised. We were finally able to deploy a staff member to Puerto Rico this week and he is making progress connecting with the local Habitat affiliate there and planning for the distribution of 2,000 emergency shelter kits.
I’ve been impressed at the hard work and dedication of Habitat staff and volunteers at the local and national levels. The urgency and complexity of such a response is daunting and requires a high level of stepping out in faith—a task for which we should be well prepared.
I’m looking forward to returning to my work at Habitat Wake full-time on October 26 and continue to offer my prayers to those impacted so severely by these three major hurricanes.