All too often with natural disasters, the devastation continues long after the fires stop burning, winds subside, and waters recede. Rebuilding and recovery efforts test the patience and perseverance of every impacted community, but for those most vulnerable populations who were struggling prior to the disaster, the impact of the disaster can be even more profound. Support is necessary to provide assistance for basic needs, such as medical care, food, and clothing, and in alignment with our broader mission, the Foundation especially looks to help students return to school and families achieve normalcy.
2017 was a challenging year with a series of natural disasters – hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma, and the northern California wildfires – that affected over five million people on the mainland of the US, Puerto Rico, and in the US Virgin Islands. Then early in 2018, our world was shattered once again by an unspeakable act of violence when the deadliest mass school shooting to date took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 innocent students and injuring many more. Finally, near the end of the 2018 Atlantic basin hurricane season, flooding from Florence caused damage and destruction with urgent clean-up needed across the Carolinas and Virginia.
With relationships in place to mobilize quickly, the Foundation was able to provide support to meet basic needs for immediate relief efforts for each aforementioned natural disaster. The recovery process extends well beyond the first few weeks and so does the Foundation’s support. Though most of the cameras have left, there is still much work to be done in the communities hit by these 2017 events. Team Rubicon’s continued presence and new program is giving hope and helping communities rebuild. The Foundation’s grant to the Broward Education Foundation’s Parkland Victims Fund helped bridge the gap between short- and long-term aid, providing assistance to families of victims who were killed, physically injured, or experienced psychological trauma during the attack. While monetary payments cannot bring back loved ones, they help give the community an opportunity to come together and heal alongside the victims and survivors.
When faced with the news of another disaster, people who are still recovering and rebuilding from prior disasters might feel forgotten. Since Harvey hit in August 2017, there have been 13 hurricanes in the Atlantic. The recovery from the 2017 hurricane season will continue for years. Our ongoing investment in Team Rubicon has allowed the organization to expand its capabilities and recovery efforts to go beyond the early response phase all the way through the rebuild lifecycle. Team Rubicon’s integrated program helps shorten the rebuild window by improving efficiency and effectively training cohorts of military veterans in their Clay Hunt Fellows Program to help manage construction sites in communities affected by disasters. Our support has helped Team Rubicon rebuild 35 homes in Houston, 33 homes in Collier County, and 500 roofs in Puerto Rico.
“Even though morale was broken, kids’ lives disrupted, and chaos was evident, suddenly hope, promise, and some kind of normality was perceived due to the kind response to our school’s request.”
The Foundation’s grant of $250,000 to DonorsChoose.org helped many schools affected by Hurricane Irma: 46,348 students helped, 301 projects funded (92% projects from schools with majority of students from low-income households), 118 schools impacted, and 223 teachers with projects funded.
Charlotte Coker Gibson
Executive Director, Charitable Foundation, PwC US