IGNITE to help Archdiocese be prepared for future disaster recovery

June 12, 2018

Last August, Hurricane Harvey impacted over 80 parishes, schools, communities and chancery locations in the Archdiocese. A $20 million fund for future disasters will be established through the upcoming IGNITE: “Our Faith, Our Mission” Capital Campaign. File Photo by James Ramos/Herald.

HOUSTON — With the hurricane season officially starting this month, the Texas Gulf Coast cautiously — and anxiously — prepares for the storm season as recovery from Hurricane Harvey continues.

“What we know on a larger scale here in Houston is that hurricanes happen,” Father Pat Garrett, pastor at Sts. Simon and Jude in The Woodlands, said. “The city has been through a number of hurricanes and a number of close calls.”

In the fall of 2008 Hurricane Ike impacted more than 100 parish campuses and caused $29.2 million worth of damage within the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. To better prepare the Archdiocese for future catastrophic events, a tax was placed on all parishes for four years to create a $10 million Future Disaster Recovery Fund.

Last August, Hurricane Harvey impacted more than 80 parishes, schools, communities and chancery locations in the Archdiocese. As of March 2018, the total losses are in excess of $27 million. This figure may continue to rise as the rebuilding process unfolds.

As a result, the Future Disaster Recovery Fund built following Hurricane Ike will be used in its entirety to assist parishes in their recovery from Hurricane Harvey.

Prudent planning for the future must once again be undertaken. To reflect the present-day realities as well as the lessons learned, a $20 million fund for future disasters will be established to replenish and grow this fund.

The $150 million IGNITE: “Our Faith, Our Mission” Capital Campaign is set to relaunch this fall after being postponed due to Hurricane Harvey. Daniel Cardinal DiNardo and the Priests Advisory Council (PAC) approved the reallocation of $20 million of the original overall goal to incorporate this element into the IGNITE Campaign. 

“With each hurricane, we need to learn our lesson from that hurricane and learn what we need to do to be prepared for the next one,” Father Garrett said. “We hope it’s years away, but we know it’s going to come. We need to just always be prepared for that next one.”

Sts. Simon and Jude served as an official Red Cross shelter in the weeks after Hurricane Harvey made landfall.

“Our growth from Hurricane Harvey doesn’t end with Hurricane Harvey,” Father Garrett said. “It is about preparing for the next issue, whether it’d be a huge hurricane or even just localized flooding.”

Last fall, Father Luke Millette, the judicial vicar for the Metropolitan Tribunal, served as a chaplain and outreach liaison for the Archdiocese following Harvey, regularly visiting families and individuals displaced by the storm and finding shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center and NRG Park.

“When a major storm comes in, there will be flooding, there will be people who will lose their homes and people who will need to be in shelters,” Father Millette said. “Those flooded areas might include homes of Houstonians, homes of our parishioners — they might be our parishes themselves. We need be prepared for that.”