Many Texas residents are still recovering one year after Hurricane Harvey ravaged the state, and that includes large numbers of people of color.
Those hit hardest in Houston were low-income residents or from communities of color. Yet 60 percent of African Americans reported that they received little post-Harvey aid, according to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Episcopal Health Foundation released Thursday. That percentage is larger than that of Latinx Texans (40 percent) and white Texans (33 percent).
Three in 10 Texas Gulf Coast residents are also still living in limbo, according to the study, which polled 1,651 adults ages 18 and older in the impacted state counties. Homes that stood solidly before the category 4 storm were never rebuilt or renovated — a pattern that has led to the most vulnerable Texans being forced into crisis. About 10 percent of those surveyed are still displaced from their residences, with 15 percent of homes struck by the storm uninhabitable.
“One year later, many of those with the fewest resources are still struggling to bounce back from Harvey’s punch,” Elena Marks, president and CEO of the Episcopal Health Foundation, said. “This kind of information is crucial to letting government and other recovery groups know what Texans still need for a long-term comeback.”
The storm has hurt people in other significant ways: 23 percent said their finances have been affected. Wealth disparities are often impacted in the aftermath of massive weather events such as hurricanes. Black, Latinx and Asian communities experience a loss of wealth between $10,000 and $29,000 in places with at least $10 billion in damages following natural disasters, according to a new Rice University and University of Pittsburgh study. White communities see a gain of $126,000.
However, all is not lost, with 70 percent of residents saying their lives have returned “largely or almost back to normal” since the storm.
Recent surveys have looked at how last year’s hurricane season — which included hurricanes Irma in Florida and the Caribbean, Maria in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic and Nate in the Gulf Coast — tested the nation’s ability to deal with natural disasters. A star-studded benefit was organized in the wake of Harvey to help residents. More work needs to be done, including efforts to start relief funds for residents of color and those living below than the poverty level.