When Hurricane Harvey roared through the city of Houston, Texas, it caused complete and utter devastation. It was the second most costly hurricane to hit the shores of the United States since 1900 and caused billions worth of damage across the city.
A year later, Houston is still reeling from the fierce storm and many organizations continue to work tirelessly on the ground, rebuilding the city into something that resembles its former self. One unlikely person heading up a vast swathe of the relief effort is Houston Texans star and Pewaukee native J.J. Watt.
Using his platform as a professional athlete, Watt has managed to raise over $40 million for rebuilding efforts, despite setting an initial goal of just $200,000. His stunning achievement sets a record for the most money ever raised via a crowdsourcing platform.
Hurricane Harvey Relief:
One Year Update pic.twitter.com/eSiOG4TT26
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) August 27, 2018
Alongside helping rebuild people’s homes, millions of dollars have also been spent on keeping local foodbanks well-stocked. A staggering 26 million meals are estimated to have been served in the wake of the natural disaster through the NFL player’s fundraising efforts. The funds have been distributed to a range of organizations, including All Hands and Hearts, Americares, Boys & Girls Clubs, Baker Ripley, Feeding America, Habitat for Humanity, Save the Children and SBP.
Watt went on to receive the Walter Payton Man of the Year award for his incredible commitment to rebuilding the stricken city.
“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 a statement, according to Bleacher Report. “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.”
“We go to some of the areas where we’ve rebuilt houses and we go and visit a house and I talked to one family, and I was looking at the houses around them that were still pretty beaten up,” Watt told ESPN. “They were like, ‘We haven’t seen those people since.’ A lot of people literally abandoned their house, whether they went somewhere else or—so, I think that while if you look at everyday life for most people, you may say, ‘Yeah, they’re in working, regular order,’ but I think there’s still a lot of people going through a lot of stuff.”
But Watt is not done just yet. With the city still in need of a helping hand, he plans to spend the next 12 months committing his time and resources to help Houston get back on its feet.
“While a great deal has been accomplished in the past 12 months, there is still much work to be done,” he explained. “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.”
According to World Vision, the enormous storm drenched Texas in more than 27 trillion gallons of rain, making Harvey the wettest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded.
Do continue to pray for the ongoing relief efforts – that they would be fruitful and long-lasting!