A Year Later: How We’re Rebuilding Communities After the Historic Hurricanes of 2017 - Good360

A Year Later: How We’re Rebuilding Communities After the Historic Hurricanes of 2017

2017 will be remembered as the Year of the Hurricanes. During one of the most destructive hurricane seasons in American history, a series of Category 4 storms ripped their way across the southeastern U.S., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Despite a huge outpouring of public and private support in the hundreds of millions of dollars, the worst-hit communities are still going through the recovery phase. Nearly 10 percent of Texans displaced by Harvey still haven’t gone home, and 15 percent of homes damaged or destroyed by the storm are unlivable, the Texas Tribune reported. And some experts believe Puerto Rico may never fully recover from the massive damage inflicted by Hurricane Maria.

Good360 has been and continues to be devoted to the long-term recovery of these impacted communities. We know the rebuilding process will take many years and are committed to leveraging collaborative partnerships to help in the most effective way possible.

Our disaster response in 2017 would not have possible without the generous support of corporate partners such as American Eagle Outfitters, Rooms To Go, One Hope Wines, RH (Restoration Hardware), Crate & Barrel, Dollar Days, CVS Health, Hasbro, J. Jill, and GAF, among many others.

Here’s a look at the aftermath of each major disaster and how we’ve been able to respond:

Hurricane Harvey
Losses:

  • 107 lives lost
  • $125 billion in damage

Our work:

  • $16 million+ worth of product distributed through Good360
  • 50 nonprofit organizations partnered with us

In a major partnership with the Rebuild Texas Fund, we received $1.25 million from the organization to help with post-Harvey recovery efforts. You can see some of the many nonprofits we have supported through this grant here.

We were also thrilled to receive a $250,000 grant from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy to support our long-term recovery work in southeast Texas. By supporting distribution methods and warehousing, the grant will help us get products to where they are needed, and store and organize them in a way that is easily accessible to our many nonprofit partners throughout the state.

In August, we partnered with Crate & Barrel to spend a week distributing furniture to families in Dickinson, TX. The hurricane hit this small town particularly hard, inundating 90 percent of it, flooding 7,000 homes, and displacing 20,000 residents.

We also worked with Owens Corning to donate several truckloads of shingles to help families rebuild their homes in the predominantly immigrant community of Rosharon, a small municipality located 50 miles south of Houston.

In Texas, we are active members of the Long Term Recovery Groups of Harris, Brazoria, Fort Bend and Wharton Counties. We also coordinate with the Coastal Bend, Victoria, West Harris County and Galveston County Recovery Groups whenever it makes sense to be involved.

For more stories related to our Harvey efforts, click here.

Hurricane Maria
Losses:

  • 2,975 lives lost
  • $91.6 billion in damage

Our work:

  • $3 million+ of product distributed through Good360
  • 23 nonprofit organizations partnered with us

Hurricane Maria was the worst storm to ever hit Puerto Rico. Responding to this disaster was a logistical nightmare, given its location away from the U.S. mainland, and an infrastructure and electrical grid that had been in disarray well before the hurricane.

Despite the monumental challenges, we have been able to activate our corporate and non-profit network to get critically needed goods to the island. We coordinated with Good Samaritan Shipping Ministries to send more than 300 new mattresses from Serta Simmons Bedding to Puerto Rico families.

From member companies of the Solar Energy Industries Association, or SEIA, we also procured and shipped two pallets of solar lights, 200 solar-powered lanterns, 460 water filters, and solar-powered generators and water heaters. With an electrical grid that remains very vulnerable to blackouts, providing solar power is one of the best ways to help Puerto Ricans in their rebuilding efforts.

For more stories about our work in Puerto Rico, click here.

Hurricane Irma
Losses:

  • 134 lives lost
  • $64.8 billion in damage

Our work:

  • $3.4 million + worth of product distributed through Good360
  • 38 nonprofit organizations partnered with us

With some of the highest sustained winds ever observed in the Atlantic, Hurricane Irma left a trail of catastrophic destruction in its path, particularly in the Carribeans and the Florida Keys. Nearly a year later, there are still countless families who are in desperate need of basic items such as bedding and furniture.

Throughout the Florida Keys, one in 10 homes was either completely destroyed or extensively damaged. Good360 partnered with nonprofit outfit Keys Strong and Rooms To Go to allow 48 families to furnish their rebuilt homes. Many of these families had been sleeping on the floor for months.

We also facilitated furniture donations in partnership with United Way of Lee County and Homelegance. The donation included a mixture of beds, nightstands, dressers, mirrors, dining tables, sofas, and coffee tables.

For more stories about our Irma-related efforts, click here.

Looking Ahead

More than ever, the horrific string of hurricanes in 2017 highlighted the need for a more thoughtful and more effective approach to disaster response. For years, humanitarian professionals have known that the disaster giving cycle is woefully misaligned with actual needs on the ground over time.

Only about 5 percent of funds raised after a disaster goes toward long-term recovery efforts, while the vast majority of donations occur in the immediate aftermath. This misalignment of resources means communities are often left to fend for themselves after the media coverage ends and the long slog of recovery is just beginning.

To promote more thoughtful disaster giving, Good360 has partnered with All Hands and Hearts – Smart Response and Global Citizen to launch the Resilient Response campaign. The cornerstone of the campaign is a six-point pledge that we’ve developed to encourage corporations to think more strategically about how and when they give in the aftermath of disasters.

The pledge reflects these key pillars of thoughtful giving:

  • Proactive: We will have plans in place before disaster strikes so we can respond effectively.
  • Needs-based: We will find out what a community needs as the key driver of our support, collaborating and learning from others who are also responding.
  • Immediate & Long-term: We will address immediate and long-term needs, staying in communities well after the cameras leave.
  • Resilience-focused: We will leave communities stronger than before disaster struck, helping them to better withstand future disasters.
  • Transparent: We will be transparent about our actions and hold ourselves accountable to deliver on promises.
  • Educational: We will educate our associates, colleagues, consumers and the public on how they can better respond to disasters.

“We’re doing a lot of work with corporate donors to get them to think about the cadence of giving, and how they can give in a way that’s really aligned with need, and doesn’t contribute to waste,” Good360 CEO Howard Sherman said in an interview with Fast Company about the campaign and pledge. “It’s not just enough to send goods–you have to think about how those goods are going to be distributed responsibly on the ground.”

To sign the pledge or donate to the campaign, please visit: https://good360.org/resilient-response.

Shari Rudolph
Shari Rudolph
shari@good360.org

Shari Rudolph is Chief Marketing Officer of Good360 and is an accomplished retail, digital commerce and media executive with a strong track record of building audience, revenue and brands. Shari’s previous experience includes management consulting as well as various executive and leadership roles at both start-ups and large media and retail e-commerce companies in Southern California, New York and Silicon Valley. She is also an adjunct professor teaching classes in marketing, advertising and entrepreneurial studies and she earned her MBA from The Anderson Graduate School of Management at UCLA.