This week hundreds of local and national leaders gathered in Houston to discuss the lingering effects of Hurricane Harvey and the stories of renewal that resulted from the storm. The Renewal Summit: Houston, an event produced and hosted by The Atlantic and made possible by Allstate, both highlighted the resilience of Houstonians who have revived their communities, while shining a spotlight on the opportunities that remain when it comes to recovery.
In the days following Hurricane Harvey in 2017, insurers like Allstate joined ranks with local businesses, elected officials and local community groups to provide solutions to Houstonians impacted by the disaster.
From playground repairs for local elementary schools, to mobile resource centers equipped with information on housing assistance, insurance claims and rebuilding efforts, Allstate joined Houstonians and the local community in the immediate recovery efforts of Harvey.
In the year since Harvey, Allstate saw communities come together, and Allstate and its foundation deployed $1.5 million into local renewal efforts that ranged from direct aid, to agents volunteering their time, resources and even homes to those in need.
“Some people think the role of corporations is to generate a profit,” says Mary Jane Fortin, President for Allstate Financial. “But at Allstate, we have a different view. We have a responsibility to create prosperity for all of our stakeholders which includes our employees, the customers we serve and the communities where these people live and work. We take that responsibility seriously, and that means helping to rebuild when tragedy strikes.”
Beyond local recovery, Allstate is committed to furthering the discussion in the aftermath of Harvey around what worked for communities and residents and what didn’t.
In preparation for the national summit this past week, Allstate commissioned a survey that gathered feedback from local Houstonians around their personal journeys of recovery in the year since Harvey.
“We reached out to consumers in the community to gather their perspectives on where they turned when they sought to rebuild their lives in a post-Harvey world,” says Fortin. “What we found was that most people are still relying on friends and family, and that local community was front and center for recovery. What we’ve also found is that, while we’re making progress, life will continue to be uncertain, and we can do more to prepare for these events with education around flood insurance and the right recovery resources.”
One of several findings, Allstate’s survey revealed that fully 94 percent of people reported relying most on friends and family or neighbors and community in the aftermath of the storm. This compared to just 16 percent of people who reported relying on government-related support.
Of note, Houstonians did in fact report satisfaction with government resources. 81 percent of respondents reported they were satisfied with local government support after the hurricane, while 74 percent were satisfied with the federal government's support.
These results reinforce that, for Houstonians who were able to recover from Harvey, support at the community and neighborhood level had the greatest impact on their lives, and Allstate has witnessed that firsthand in its own recovery efforts on the ground in Houston. The hurricane actually helped bring communities closer together, and this survey presents an opportunity for all organizations who support communities during natural disasters to communicate at a local level.
This weeks The Renewal Summit:Houston brought local and national leaders together to share insights on what communities can do in the face of natural disaster. Leaders discussed the lessons learned and the lingering effects of Harvey while offering insights on how people across the country can prepare, recover and renew their lives.
• Speed matters. People need recovery underway before they can get back to their routines of life. In looking to the future all sectors can play a role in putting community tools in place to expedite recovery so that resources are easily accessible for anyone to access relief services.
• Expedite recovery. One of the most important things homeowners can do to expedite the recovery effort is to secure paperwork like insurance documents and home inventories online so you can access it at any time.
• Community collaboration. Collectively strengthen collaboration between community, government and business in advance of disaster. The need is enormous in the aftermath of a storm, and it can’t be handled by any single entity. People are looking to their neighbors and community to help rebuild, but corporations and government need to support that collaboration and provide the funding and infrastructure necessary to make it happen.
Ultimately, the survey and the Summit have reinforced a silver lining. Harvey brought communities together, and Houstonians have proven to be extraordinarily resilient in the face of tragedy. When looking to the future, there is more everyone can do to reinforce a community’s recovery infrastructure before a disaster strikes. From the federal government to local ensures like Allstate, there is a unique role each can and should play.
Caption: Mary Jane Fortin, President for Allstate Financial, shares the results of Allstate’s outreach to Houston consumers to understand where they turned for recovery in a post-Harvey world. Allstate found that local community efforts were the number one place people relied on for support.