Hurricane Harvey Hit Houston 5 Months Ago; 1000s Still Wait for Aid

Posted on February 1, 2018 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan Delivers Donations and Solidarity

Sitting on a tattered mattress wedged between plywood floors and punctured sheetrock walls, Joe Murphy welcomes Catholic Charities NY Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan into what remains of his Hurricane Harvey-torn home in the Kashmere Gardens neighborhood of Houston, Texas.

“I’m on disability and it’s taking a toll on my health,” Mr. Murphy says. “I prayed, Lord, please send me some help.”  

As thousands wait for aid to repair their homes five months after the hurricane tore through Texas, Msgr. Sullivan made a special visit there this week to offer his personal support to those still recovering and present in person a $35,000 check to our counterpart, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

“One of the reasons we wanted to come down now is that the cameras have gone away, but the need is still here,” Msgr. Sullivan said. “We wanted Houston to know that we stand with you.”                                         

Catholic Charities Disaster Recovery services help individuals and families dealing with the aftermath of natural disasters like hurricanes, floods and other catastrophes. The organization provides response coordination and short-term and long-term recovery services so people can get back on their feet as quickly as possible.

“We are just over five months past the storm, and it takes months and even years to fully recover from disaster,” says Cynthia N. Colbert, MSW, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston President and CEO.

“We know the long, slow recovery process is just beginning.

“We are very grateful for people and organizations like Msgr. Sullivan and Catholic Charities New York for their generosity and compassion. They are a tremendous blessing.”

During his visit, Msgr. Sullivan also met with Fr. Martin Eke of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church. The hurricane dumped four feet of water into the church and its school.

“We had the usual 5 p.m. mass and we didn’t know it was going to be bad,” Fr. Martin told Msgr. Sullivan. “At about 3 a.m. I got out of bed to look outside and by then water was everywhere, above knee level. I saw my neighbors trying to run for safety, overcome by water.”

“I was wondering what to do with our materials in the church so I waded through the water…got into the church and started taking things to altar, the highest place. Then lights went off.”

Fr. Martin spent three days in the rectory trapped by the flooding.

“I was afraid,” he continued. “I kept matches by my side and rosary in my hand throughout.”

When the flooding finally subsided, Fr. Martin returned to a church whose walls, floors and pews had been destroyed.  Within two weeks of the hurricane he initiated the type of recovery he knew best, a spiritual one.  He set up an altar and folding chairs outside the church that quickly filled with nearly 70 parishioners, the typical number that attend on more typical days.

Parishioners, volunteers and construction workers work morning, noon and night to rebuild the church.  But for now, while all masses have been restored, they are held in the church garage.

“We’re not very comfortable,” he tells Msgr. Sullivan, “but we’re happy.”

Just two of the hundreds of hurricane victims still helped by Catholic Charities, Fr. Martin and Mr. Murphy are slowly rebuilding their lives.

“Catholic Charities of Galveston-Houston has been a blessing, a God send,” Mr. Murphy says.  “They let me know there’s some hope and help to get me out of the situation I’m in.”

To help those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, visit Catholic Charities Galveston-Houston's website:


Catholic Charities is responding to the needs of our neighbors during the 
COVID-19 pandemic.

For Help Call 888-744-7900