'Memories of hope': JJ Watt reflects on Hurricane Harvey

Texans star provides update on how donations were used

By Aaron Barker - Senior Digital Editor
Justin J. Watt Foundation/Texans

Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is seen in these photos of Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts released by the Justin J. Watt foundation on Aug. 27, 2018.

HOUSTON - A year after Hurricane Harvey left much of southeast Texas in shambles, Texans defensive end J.J. Watt released a statement Monday about his memories from the devastation and provided an update on how money he helped raise for recovery has been used.

“As I reflect on the events of Hurricane Harvey one year ago, the memories of destruction and devastation remain, but they are accompanied by memories of hope, selflessness and the beauty of the human spirit,” Watt said in the written statement. Scroll to the bottom of the story to read his full statement.

As the storm was ravaging the Texas coast, Watt began a fundraising effort with an initial goal of $200,000. That effort ended up raising $41.6 million. According to the Justin J. Watt Foundation, it was the largest crowd-sourced fundraiser in world history.

VIDEO: J.J. Watt talks about Harvey relief efforts one year after storm

As the recovery process began, Watt announced that the funds would be split among several nonprofit groups that concentrate on rebuilding homes, restoring child care centers and after-school programs, distributing food and providing medical services for storm victims.

Watt said Monday in his statement that all of the money has been disbursed to eight of those types or group. They are: All Hands and Hearts, Americares, Boys & Girls Clubs, Baker Ripley, Feeding America, Habitat for Humanity, Save the Children and SBP.

“In the past year, those funds have been used to repair and rebuild houses, allowing people to finally return and once again have a place to call ‘home’,” Watt said in the statement. “Those funds have restored and rebuilt childcare centers so that parents can once again have a place to take their children where they know they will be safe, so that they can return to work and resume a sense of normalcy. Those funds have provided millions and millions of meals to people who weren’t sure where their next meal might be coming from after being devastated by the storm. And those funds provided physical and mental health care to those who suffered from the events of that awful weekend one year ago.”

Watt said that despite all of the work that has been accomplished in the past year, there is still plenty of work left to be done.

What’s been done

Here is a breakdown provided by Watt’s foundation of the work that has been done using the money he raised after Hurricane Harvey.

  • The cleanup, repair and rebuilding of over 600 homes
  • The recovery and rebuilding of over 420 child care centers and after-school programs, serving over 16,000 children
  • The distribution of over 26,000,000 meals to those affected
  • Physical and mental health services to over 6,500 individuals
  • Distribution of medicine to over 10,000 patients

What’s left to be done

Here is a recap of the work that groups that received money from Watt’s fundraising efforts are still working to complete during the next year, according to Watt’s foundation.

  • Home restoration and disaster case management, including assistance with temporary housing, furniture, appliances, transportation and more with Baker Ripley.
  • Continued assistance with both physical and mental health services, including the distribution of medicine and implementation of mobile medical clinics with Americares.
  • Additional support to handle the massive increase in demand following Harvey, covering 48 counties through the Houston Food Bank, Coastal Bend Food Bank, Food Bank of the Golden Crescent and Southeast Texas Food Bank with Feeding America.
  • Rebuilding Harvey-damaged homes, while also focusing on providing resiliency for future storms in Rockport, Aransas County, Refugio County and San Patricio County with All Hands & Hearts.
  • Rebuilding and restoring damaged Boys & Girls Clubs centers in Harvey-affected areas, serving over 5,000 youth. 
  • Repairing and rebuilding Harvey-damaged homes with Habitat for Humanity.

 

 

The following is Watt’s full statement:

“As I reflect on the events of Hurricane Harvey one year ago, the memories of destruction and devastation remain, but they are accompanied by memories of hope, selflessness and the beauty of the human spirit. The actions of professional first responders and everyday citizens alike were an inspiration to the world and a shining example of the inherent good that lies within us all. Those actions locally were then supported by the actions of hundreds of thousands from around the world showing their support and donating their money in order to help out in any way they could. I was fortunate enough to witness that generosity first hand, as the fundraiser that I started with a simple goal of $200,000 turned into an unbelievable outpouring of support from people all around the globe. When it was all said and done, after the late donations and checks that came in after the deadline were counted, the total amount that was donated and is now hard at work in the community was $41.6 million. In the past year, those funds have been used to repair and rebuild houses, allowing people to finally return and once again have a place to call ‘home’. Those funds have restored and rebuilt childcare centers so that parents can once again have a place to take their children where they know they will be safe, so that they can return to work and resume a sense of normalcy. Those funds have provided millions and millions of meals to people who weren’t sure where their next meal might be coming from after being devastated by the storm. And those funds provided physical and mental health care to those who suffered from the events of that awful weekend one year ago. While a great deal has been accomplished in the past 12 months, there is still much work to be done. Moving forward, there will be more of the same, as we continue to work with our incredible nonprofit partners to provide as much help and support as we possibly can for those affected by Harvey. I cannot thank everyone enough for your support and generosity. You have truly provided an unbelievable example of what the human spirit is capable of accomplishing. Every time that I am fortunate enough to witness someone step back into their home for the first time or a child run around on the playground again, I am reminded of the generosity of strangers that helped make it all possible. Thank you and never stop spreading the positivity! #HoustonStrong”

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