Today there was a continuation of the Volunteer Disaster Meeting that J-Vibe Online Magazine attended yesterday, and this meeting was filled with information that was just as important because crisis cleanup and portals were discussed. The organizations and the volunteers on the ground have done such a tremendous job, but the problem has been there wasn’t one singular place to keep track of all that was being done, what still needed to be done and which neighborhoods and homes were being hit or missed. There needed to be a better way to keep organized and that was when Aaron Titus from Vision Link stepped into the mix.
The Crisis Cleanup Portal
Aaron Titus has created the software that we are now using as the portal for our crisis cleanup. To begin with, it’s important to understand how this portal works.
- The portal is NOT for the public, but it is for the volunteer organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together and Nechama and the many others that are helping during this time of clean up.
- The portal JUST deals with clean up and property, NOT personal things or case management. There will be other organizations in place to take care of those issues.
- The portal is just one small piece of a very large puzzle
- The portal is the first tool being used and is only used for clean up and muck out.
How Crisis Cleanup Works
This is actually a very interesting piece of software. Each persons name and address are inputted into the portal, along with their needs, in terms of clean up. It is as detailed as the amount of water that was in the home, work that needs to be done, any hazards that might be found, the type of damage the home has sustained and the age of the home owner. The reason the age of the home owner is relevant is because the first to be serviced will be the elderly and the disabled.
After all this information is put into the portal, any volunteer agency can go in and “claim” that property and go out and send a team on the ground to get the work done. If the work gets completed, it is then marked off as completed. If there is more work that needs to be done, then that will then be filled in as well. The data sources that are being used to fill where the work needs to be done is coming from those organizations and volunteers that have already been in the fields and collecting spreadsheets, as well as those homeowners who have contacted 311, the main goal being that no one will be forgotten.
If You Want to Volunteer
Crucial information for those on the ground that want to volunteer, but are NOT involved with an affiliated organization!
- You must register through volunteerhouston.org
- You will be contacted by the affiliated organizations and told where you are needed most
- Please do not just go on your own without registering, as the cleanup process is going to be done in a very efficient way!
- The city wants you to volunteer and feels you are a very important piece to the recovery process, just please register through volunteerhouston.org
If You Need Assistance as a Homeowner
We know that this is a scary time and you might feel lost, frightened and ignored. No one likes the hurry up and wait game, but the truth is, between our amazing city and our amazing volunteers, the City of Houston has made tremendous progress in a week, even though it might not feel that way. And, although it might feel as though things are not organized, there is a method to the madness, and we must get through the clean up phase before we can begin the rebuild phase.
Here are some things to do if you need assistance as a homeowner:
- Call 211 for all social services needed. They are collecting reported needs and reporting them and keeping a database, which is helpful for case management. They also are continuously getting new programs that come available, so you never know what you will hear when you call. Unfortunately, they don’t know when they will hear about which programs or when those programs will hit, but please know that they are really doing their best to keep up with the demand and thus far have fielded over 1,300 calls.
- Call 311 for any City Government services that are non-emergency that you need taken care of. This could mean tree limbs or electrical wires. If you can’t get through using 311, you can always call 713-837-0311, which is the 10-digit phone number for 311.
- Call 832-394-6282 for temporary housing needs. This is the City of Houston’s Housing and Community Development Department and they have access to many ways to help you find housing. Most are for low to middle income, but call there first and they can point you in the right direction.
- If someone is in your backyard or in your house, that is trespassing, please call 911! Do not call the constable. That is beyond looting to actually breaking the law.
Mayor Parker and Town Hall Meetings
We know that you have many questions that you want answers to and the Mayor wants to give them to you. She has announced that now that FEMA has come on the scene she is having TWO TOWN HALL MEETINGS!!
On the agenda:
- Discuss the flood recovery resources now available
- Meet representatives from FEMA to answer questions relating to the process for applying for federal assistance, information on their various resource programs, FEMA’s relief deployment scope and timeline, and more
- Meet The City of Houston Office of Emergency Management, Office of Flood Management, Solid Waste Department, and many other recovery-related City departments and outside entities for Q & A
- Learn from the Public Works and Engineering Department how to determine whether your home is located in the floodplain (which impacts the requirements for repairs) by the Flood Repair Frequently Asked Questions document they have created
- Learn how to obtain the appropriate permitting for repairs
- Learn how to obtain a Substantial Damage Determination letter from the City of Houston (which is needed in some cases to apply for certain types of federal assistance), and more
Some things to know:
- Both meetings will be available online via HTV.
- Residents whose homes are located in the floodplain must contact the City of Houston Flood Management Office (FMO) prior to making repairs. The FMO can be reached at (832) 394-8854 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit the FMO in person at the Houston Permitting Center (Mon-Fri, 8:00AM – 5:00PM).
- Mayor Parker’s office has prepared some Tips for Cleaning and Sanitizing to prevent mold damage and food-related illnesses.
- Storm debris pickup is underway and all Solid Waste Department services (including trash, recycling, yard waste, and junk waste, unrelated to the storm events) have resumed their normal schedules.
Times of the Meetings:
Flood Recovery Resources Town Halls:
Wednesday, June 3, 2015
7:00PM – 8:30PM
Fondren Middle School
6333 S. Braeswood Blvd, 77096
Thursday, June 4, 2015
7:00PM – 8:30PM
Key Middle School
4000 Kelley St, 77026
We love our City and we love our Volunteers and we love our Residents. It is all of you working so hard to #rebuildhouston that are making this such an amazing #vibing city. Let’s show the world that THIS is how cities should work and continue to #worktogether!