Cierra Duckworth: The Role of the Faith Community After Harvey

Hurricane Harvey was a devastatingly intense hurricane which made landfall on August 24, 2017, destroying homes, families, and cities as it tore through southern Texas. The hurricane was the first major storm to make landfall after a 12-year streak, leaving over 40 inches of rain in its path. Thousands of civilians were forced out of their homes due to flooding, disastrous property damage, and fallen infrastructure; they were sent to local community centers and churches, which were operating as shelters during the time of the storm. Across the city, as major stadiums and convention centers reached capacity, various churches were opening their doors to provide shelter, food, and other vital resources to their communities. When many victims of Harvey could not access support from national organizations, government assistance, nor local community funding, they turned to faith communities. These communities were able to muck out houses, rebuild apartment complexes, and create vast networks of resource distribution centers to serve thousands of people across Houston. Victims believe the church was the “safest” place to seek relief and refuge during the storm and played an integral role in relief efforts across the city. My project considered the role and particular responses of faith communities during disaster. Through a series of interviews, I found a common goal expressed and exemplified by various faith communities, of providing physical, spiritual, and mental healing to Houstonians regardless of their religious backgrounds. Each interview was conducted with a leader of the faith community, on site.

Cierra's interactive map, with the audio interviews, can be viewed/listened to online using a web browser; it is also on display at the Institute for Spirituality and Health lobby on a touchscreen kiosk.