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May 30, 2018

Harvey Recovery Efforts Is Priority for Holy Trinity Leaders

(From L to R): Vicki Westover, Kathleen Yanni, Kécia Mallette at Holy Trinity, Dickinson

Leaders at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Dickinson are in it for the long haul when it comes to Hurricane Harvey Recovery efforts. With more than 20-thousand homes affected following Harvey’s catastrophic rain, there is plenty of work to be done in the Galveston County coastal cities.

According to a study conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation/Episcopal Health Foundation, FEMA received more than 45-thousand assistance applications from Galveston County alone.“There is still a Harvey depression here,” said Kathleen Yanni, junior warden at Holy Trinity.

Yanni experienced flooding in the first floor of her home and has gone through the mental anguish and severe inconvenience in the post-Harvey aftermath. Despite that, she, along Senior Warden Vicki Westover, Director of Operations Kécia Mallette and members of Holy Trinity, have become members of Galveston County Long Term Recovery Group and are working alongside World Renew for recovery efforts.

World Renew is an international organization that works for “justice and mercy” assisting people in Harvey-affected coastal cities.

Earlier this month, Holy Trinity hosted a “recovery version” of their annual Strawberry Festival and helped raise thousands of dollars for their most vulnerable neighbors.

“People all over Galveston County still have needs,” Westover said. “They need things like measuring cups, appliances and help putting furniture together.”

According to Mallette, one out of three people in Galveston County were affected by Harvey. In Dickinson, that number increased to eight out of 10 people. One of the most vulnerable groups is the undocumented population.

“There are few folks who risked and registered with FEMA,” said Mallette. A lot of them did not register because of fear and/or limited English proficiency.

Using the tools from the Episcopal Health Foundation map, Mallette helped conduct background research to discern how many undocumented people did not seek FEMA help. They looked at the social vulnerability index and English proficiency in the Dickinson area and found it surprisingly high. Within this population, they found some with FEMA-verified damage of $17,000 or more.

“We overlaid the individualized data so we can see level of density and then we did another map with minority status—people who declared themselves as minority status—and we used those two dimensions as indicators of vulnerability and indicators of undocumented status and then we took a look at that with the degrees of impact,” Mallette said.

After analyzing the results, Mallette and Holy Trinity partnered with Hispanic churches and Hispanic community leaders to get the word out about help that was available through World Renew.

Mallette had a clear goal for this mission and that was to demonstrate that “World Renew is a safe partner they could trust and to try to get those stories and numbers to really make an impact on those communities,” she added.

But not all has been loss and tragedy for the leaders at Holy Trinity. One of the highlights of Harvey has been the partnership built with Faith Lutheran immediately following the storm. Aside from joining efforts to help the Dickinson community, Holy Trinity welcomed Faith Lutheran to worship with them every Sunday after their neighboring congregation suffered significant flooding to their property.

“What I really like is that now, you only have to say ‘Holy Trinity’ to someone and they say, ‘Oh, that’s the church that helps with the hurricane, or “That’s the church does this or does that,’” Westover beamed.