Do you remember August 25, 2005? How about August 25, 2017? These two dates are significant because they respectively represent Hurricanes Katrina and Harvey. These natural disasters, exactly twelve years apart, took the lives of people and destroyed property in the United States.
In May of 2005, I completed an undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago which prepared me for a case manager position with the non-profit organization Metropolitan Family Services. The Calumet location where I worked on the Southside of Chicago primarily offered educational, employment, and housing resources to families of color from lower income communities. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Metropolitan Family Services created an initiative called the Katrina Assistance Relief Effort (KARE), and I worked as part of a team responsible for identifying jobs, grants, and other resources for families and individuals attempting to transition from New Orleans to Chicago.
What’s the connection between Harvey and Katrina?
Houston was another location where families decided to relocate following Hurricane Katrina. Preliminary estimates indicate that the damage and impact of Hurricane Harvey could surpass any previous natural disaster. Hurricane Katrina caused an estimated USD 160 Billion in property damage. Many of my clients lost their homes in addition to some family and friends. It’s difficult to fathom how survivors of Hurricane Katrina who moved to Houston and other parts of Louisiana can cope during this difficult time.
People of color, specifically African-American or Black residents, were severely impacted by Hurricane Katrina whereas with Harvey early predictions indicate that multiple racial and ethnic groups have equally experienced losses. There were an estimated 1, 833 people who lost their lives as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Hurricane Harvey impacted 50,000 counties in Texas and is currently responsible for the deaths of 47 people. There appears to exist some differences in the populations affected by the Katrina and Harvey storms. However, the need for employment and other financial opportunities is universal.
How should businesses and individuals respond?
The corporate sector will need to create employment and support other resources for families looking to rebuild their lives following this latest national disaster. As mentioned above, I worked with a non-profit organization to assist families displaced by Hurricane Katrina. I witnessed too many families struggle to locate jobs, adequate housing, and other resources necessary to recover from the storm. There were a limited number of businesses that specifically created jobs and other critical opportunities for families impacted by Hurricane Katrina. It is important that companies learn from the failures of Katrina and adequately respond to families affected by Hurricane Harvey.
The economic impact of Hurricane Harvey will likely be felt for years in Texas, Louisiana, and other states as families relocate to other locations. As businesses decide how to allocate funds and other resources, individuals can donate and volunteer with local non-profit organizations and churches. Much can be accomplished when we combine our resources toward an endeavor aimed at servicing the needs of people who are in need. If you find a resource that is doing solid work to improve the conditions or residents in Texas or Louisiana, share it in the comments.