If you lived it, you get it. But, for the rest of Texas and the world, it’s hard to wrap our heads around the devastation that Hurricane Harvey inflicted on children and families in Beaumont, Houston and along the Texas Gulf Coast.
As the Texas Center for Child and Family Studies’ Healing from Harvey Rebuild Texas Fund grant work continues, we want to put a human face on the people and places that overcame their own adversity and helped support Texas’ most at-risk children and families in their hour of need as the hurricane ravaged the area.
Devereux, who received a Healing from Harvey Rebuild Texas Fund grant from The Center’s phase one grant program, is one of those organizations.
Nestled among 450 wooded acres in the South Texas Gulf Coast region, Devereux’s Victoria campus offers services to children suffering from abuse, neglect and serious emotional disturbances. A second 49-acre campus in League City, between metropolitan Houston and northern Galveston County supports adolescents with a ride range of behavioral and emotional needs. These residential centers for children and adolescents found themselves dealing with Harvey in real time and know first-hand what work must still be done to recover.
Devereux’s Pamela Reed and Joni Robertson shared their memories of Harvey with us.
Last August, Devereux was preparing to open a new 22-bed unit on their League City campus, but it was devastated – perhaps more than any other building on their two campuses – by the Hurricane’s floods, winds and fury. Both League City and Victoria campuses – children and staff – had to be evacuated to Latham Springs Baptist Camp.
What they came back to is difficult to fully comprehend.
“Our League City campus buildings were inundated with 14-inches of water. Everything from the carpet to the walls and ceilings had to be replaced. The children and our staff lost clothing and beds. Devereux lost 26 vehicles, and many of our League City staff faced their own personal losses and damage to homes,” said Robertson.
In fact, the damage was so extensive at League City, that the kids who call Devereux home did not return until December 2017.
Initial phase one grant money supported rebuilding the campus but also intangible and no less important needs like trauma support and counseling. Devereux’s trauma treatment model is one focused on empowering the kids to help support themselves and, one day, to be able to provide the same support to others in need.
Clinicians and team members from all disciplines at Devereux work together to create individualized treatment plans for each child. Additional training that these clinicians will receive as a result of their Healing from Harvey Rebuild Texas Fund grant will go a long way toward employing applied techniques and best practices in their day-to-day work to support the short-term and long-term impact of trauma on a child’s mental and physical health.
“It was a powerful experience for these kids. They thrive on structure, crave stability and value predictability. The hurricane took all that away, but what it provided us is a chance to cultivate opportunities for personal and professional growth for both the children in our care and the staff who are there for them each and every day,” said Reed.
And, while there’s much work to be done under the initial phase of their grant and their work to mitigate trauma, the team at Devereux is looking ahead to address another critical need: capacity building, increasing their ability to care and serve more children in need.
We’re looking forward to tracking their progress and sharing more milestones and success stories from these Harvey Heroes at Devereux.