Community & Culture

Southeast Texas Must Recover Before We Rebuild

It’s been two weeks since Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast and dumped trillions of gallons of water on Southeast Texas. The heavy rains caused unprecedented flooding, and the entire region is still in the process of recovering from the effects of this deadly storm.

Like many of our neighbors and team members, floodwaters came into my home and caused damage. We consider ourselves very fortunate, however, as our home only saw 5-14” of water and my family and I were never in any physical danger – we watched the waters come in and recede from the safety of North Texas. Also, the house we were living in was a rental, and while renter’s insurance doesn’t cover floods, we’ve already been able to move into a new home and purchase new furniture. We’re so thankful to have been so lucky, but we know that this is not the case for everyone. My sister, for example, saw serious damage to her home and it will be a long time before she and her family will be able to move back in.

Thousands of others are in the same position – still in a period of recovery, rather than rebuilding. The more immediate needs are still physical – some of our neighbors still need basics like food, water, clothes and shelter. City officials and engineers are still working to push floodwaters out of the cities and into the Gulf. Once this difficult work is complete, we’ll be able to truly assess the damage that Harvey did and make plans for rebuilding our hometown.

Once recovery efforts are finished, people and organizations will be able to start making decisions about what to do next. For example, before my sister can shop for furniture, she’ll need to have a more permanent living situation. To determine when that will be, she’ll need to work with insurance companies and contractors to properly understand if they can continue to live in this home or if the damage is so great that they’ll need to find another permanent place to live. There are so many decisions to be made, and each choice affects the next.

The same is true for nonprofit organizations working to offer relief, like our partners the Houston Furniture Bank and Ecclesia Church. They have only just recently begun to distribute the mattresses that Mattress Firm and other generous groups have donated. Previously, they had to assess the most immediate needs of the community, put together a distribution plan, and organize their staff and volunteers to make sure they’re able to help families in the best, most efficient way possible. For many groups working to help, that is still the case.

To those who are in this difficult position of assessing the damage that Hurricane Harvey did to your home, we’re so sorry for your loss. As you sort through your things, take note of whether or not your mattress was submerged in water for any length of time. Mattresses and bedding are porous, and when they get wet they are extremely susceptible to mold and mildew. Even if your mattress wasn’t completely submerged, FEMA recommends to only attempt to clean it and dry it out if has been wet for less than 48 hours. The risk of illness from mold is too great – especially for something that you spend 8 hours on every night.

If you are in need of a mattress, pillow or sheets, we encourage you to work with one of the non-profits we’re working with to distribute our product donations. Visit our website for the most up-to-date information on our efforts to support our communities.

Even during these difficult times, I’ve been so inspired by watching our community in Houston and the surrounding region rise to meet these challenges. As we come together, we’re also closely watching reports on what is happening in the Southeast US, especially Florida. We don’t yet know what the impact of Hurricane Irma will be, but just as our neighbors, friends, employees and customers have selflessly dedicated themselves to helping each other recover from Harvey, we’ll be ready to help others as they work to rebuild their communities.

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