Current News

More than three years after Hurricane Harvey, 13 families move into Texas “land of hope”

April 1, 2021

Thirteen families have moved into new homes built by volunteers from Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) and Disaster Aid Ohio in Woodsboro, Texas, a community devastated by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

The homes, dedicated on March 25, are the first phase of Tierra de Esperanza, which means “land of hope.”

The 3.6-acre neighborhood, located about 40 miles/64 kilometers north of Corpus Christi and valued at $2.3 million U.S./$2.8 million CDN, will comprise 23 homes by the time it’s completed in May.

MDS Executive Director Kevin King attended the dedication of the homes. During his meetings with homeowners, King said the hope created by the new community was felt not only by hurricane survivors, but also by the hundreds of volunteers from across the U.S. and Canada who helped build their homes.

King shared a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech: “With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.”

King said: “I think back to that as we move 13 people into this land of hope.”

As King stood with homeowners Barbara and BB Green on their new front porch, the joy and camaraderie was almost instant.

“We are porch people,” said the Greens. “We love our porch. You come back at 4 o’clock and we’ll be cookin’!”

For Tom Smucker, MDS Hurricane Harvey coordinator, the Tierra de Esperanza dedication is a great example of MDS working in a spirit of compassionate collaboration with its partner agencies.

“In this group, when things went wrong, the question that was raised is not who is to blame, but immediately to ask: how do we move past the problem and correct it? In Hurricane Harvey recovery, MDS has been blessed to have great partners—national and local,” he said.

Smucker said that, over the three years he’s been coordinating MDS Hurricane Harvey recovery in Texas, he has seen volunteers connect with homeowners—and they have all grown spiritually.

“MDS volunteers are helping to rebuild not only individual lives, but communities,” said Smucker. “The community building process is much more difficult, coordinating with more partner groups and working through the logistics of the local governments, but the rewards are a very long-term sense of hope—and homes.”

Donna Rosson, Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group board president, thanked the volunteers and welcomed the residents back into their community.

“It takes an army of willing souls and God’s many blessings to make a miracle like this happen,” she said. “So many of you call this place home and we are so happy to welcome you back.”

In addition to MDS, Disaster Aid Ohio, and the Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group, the project was also supported by Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi Inc., Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Rebuild Texas, Refugio County Community Development Foundation, and the Town of Woodsboro.

View more photos here.

Watch a video here.