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Hurricane Harvey six years on: How SBP helped Houston rebuild

What’s the situation in Houston in 2023?

Homeowners with means have rebuilt, recovered, and moved on with their lives. However, a stark reality remains: six years later, thousands of Houstonians are still waiting for assistance – and have still not been able to return home.

A four-day onslaught of 130-mile-per-hour winds and torrential rains started on August 26, 2017, flooding over 150,000 Houston homes in a foot and a half of water. Worse yet, 75% of the flooded homes sat outside a FEMA-designated flood zone – meaning homeowners had been told they didn’t need flood insurance. Some were able to secure modest FEMA awards post-disaster, but without insurance, 16,000 homeowners would still need significant rebuilding assistance, making Hurricane Harvey one of the costliest natural disasters in United States history, second only to Hurricane Katrina.

That’s when SBP stepped in to help restore people to safe, secure homes. Houston had been there for New Orleans when Katrina devastated our community, so the question was, “How fast can we get there?” Our work continues to this day, and we’ll stay until we’re no longer needed.

How is SBP helping in Houston?

SBP knows that a successful recovery response is swift, predictable, and equitable. We are proud to be part of the collective effort in Houston to shrink the time between disaster and recovery and get people home. Since 2017, SBP has responded in the following ways:

  • Rebuilt 426 homes for survivors of Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda in low-income, hard-hit communities.

  • Granted over $6.2M to 16 rebuilding partners across Texas via our SHARE program, which supports local partner NGOs with funding, its proven systems, and Americorps members.

  • Developed Connective, formerly Harvey Home Connect, in partnership with the Greater Houston Community Foundation, a case management tool to help nonprofits coordinate and maximize recovery efforts.

  • Completed 294 emergency plumbing repairs for families impacted by Winter Storm Uri in 2021.

  • Deployed ongoing preparedness campaigns that aim to protect thousands of Houstonians from future extreme weather events.

Currently expanding access to affordable, energy-efficient, and resilient housing options through our Opportunity Housing program.

Harvey 2
Harvey 1 copy
Thomas Corley, Chief Recovery Officer, SBP

How SBP impacts lives: “This world we live in is good”

When SBP’s Americorps members knocked on John Rogers’ door in 2022, they had no idea how profound an impact they would make on his life.

Hurricane Harvey came at a moment when Mr. Rogers was already struggling. He became unemployed following an eye injury that required multiple surgeries and had left him partially blind. Then the storm hit – exposing the interior of his home to the relentless rain and Category 4 winds – which destroyed his belongings and caused severe damage to everything from floors to drywall. Without the money to make repairs, Mr. Rogers remained for four and a half years in unsafe living conditions – and was slipping further into hopelessness when he heard a knock.

Mr. Rogers opened the door. Upon hearing his story, SBP’s team knew he was close to reaching his breaking point. So they took immediate action.

Team members recommended SBP’s Owner-Occupied Rebuild Program, which utilizes volunteers, charitable donations, and grants to return survivors to their homes and communities following a disaster. Fast forward a few weeks to the day SBP called to tell Mr. Rogers his application had been approved. “They gave me a boost in my spirit…they really let me know that this world we live in is good,” he said. The day after SBP arrived at his door, in fact, Mr. Rogers began walking the track near his house, kickstarting a renewal of his physical, mental, and emotional health. As repairs got underway, he rejoiced daily at the presence of volunteers – especially, in his words, so many young people full of energy – working with purpose on his behalf.

The welcome home party was a proud moment for everyone – not least of all for Mr. Rogers, who said he felt like “a new John.” He credits SBP with giving him the key to a mindset that placed him on a healing path. “To the workers, keep doing this – keep doing this, because you’re bringing a lot to somebody’s life.”

Mr Rogers 2
Homemade chocolate cake Welcome Home
Joe Ruiz, Vice President of Social Impact, The UPS Foundation

What success looks like

SBP will be alongside Houstonians until our assistance is no longer needed: in other words, for the long haul. Our work – very much a joint effort – would not be possible without the crucial support of our funding partners, donors, and volunteers, whom we cannot thank enough for their tireless support. Their commitment to all disaster survivors ripples past the walls of newly rebuilt homes and into the communities they serve, restoring hope and rebuilding social and family networks – all vital to community well-being.

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– Barry Glass, Volunteer

We’d like to extend our immense gratitude to the following donors and partner organizations, in particular to the JJ Watt Foundation for its enormous support:

With the drive and commitment of the incredible SBP team and the generosity of our heroic partners and donors, SBP will get the job done. We will get Houston home.


1. Texas Housers, August 3, 2023

2. NOAA, 2023