Outpouring of Love
A Strong & Resilient Community
Most residents of Tomball would agree that it’s a great place to live, and few were surprised by the generosity and resiliency of the community during and after Hurricane Harvey. City services, churches, schools, businesses and individuals worked together to make the best of a devastating situation.
“It was not surprising at all to see how everyone pulled together during Harvey, but the overwhelming desire of individuals to want to help, to contribute and to make a difference was so heartwarming and inspiring. It affirmed that Tomball is a wonderful community with strong values and a caring spirit,” said Dr. Lee Ann Nutt, president of Lone Star College-Tomball, summing up the feelings of many in the community.
“I didn’t learn anything about our community that we didn’t already know. We got to watch the things we knew were great about our community in action,” said Rob Hauck, city manager in describing Tomball’s response to the hurricane.
Randy Parr, fire chief and Emergency Management Coordinator for the city of Tomball added that, while Harvey was an extraordinary event, it had successfully managed three hurricanes in previous years. Having systems in place helped everyone across the community understand their role when Harvey struck.
The fact that Tomball had a comprehensive emergency plan in place, that even included citizens operating ham radios from within shelters, meant that there were significant life-saving efforts during the event.
“What I got from [the emergency response to Hurricane Harvey] was that what we do everyday made the difference when we really needed to work together,” said David Esquivel, assistant city manager.
Laurie Holleway is the disaster relief coordinator for an organization called Heart for Texas, which formed as a direct result of Hurricane Harvey. Salem Lutheran Church, in partnership with Trinity Klein Lutheran Church, agreed they needed to do something in response to the hurricane, and one problem facing the community was what to do with the donations that were pouring in from all over the country.
BJ Services donated warehouse space, and Holleway put her warehouse experience from an earlier job to use making sure the donations reached their intended recipients. The two churches in collaboration with BJ Services, developed a system and a structure that caught the attention of Orphan Grain Train, a Christian nonprofit organization that supplies humanitarian aid around the world. Orphan Grain Train agreed to donate supplies like drywall and screws.
Now, Heart of Texas continues to help families rebuild. Donations have funded the purchase of furniture, so in addition to rebuilding homes, volunteers are now putting new beds in them.
“By the one year anniversary of Harvey, we will have placed furniture in over 100 homes — all done in a loving way, all donated, at cost,” said Holleway.
“Here in Tomball we really do love and care for each other. Hurricane Harvey brought us challenges, but in the end you can look back and see how it’s brought everyone closer together as a community,” said Bruce Hillegeist, President of the Greater Tomball Area Chamber of Commerce.