Hurricane Harvey flood victims say friends, family more important than government aid, survey finds

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The vast majority of Houstonians relied on friends and family rather than government aid in the year following Hurricane Harvey, according to a new survey conducted in partnership with Allstate and Atlantic57.

The survey, which will be presented to participants at a post-Harvey summit Tuesday in Houston, also revealed that minorities felt a stronger sense of community than non-minorities in the wake of the historic flooding that engulfed the region in August 2017.

The findings are among an array of issues on the agenda at a three-hour conference Tuesday at Silver Street Studios at Sawyer Yards. The event features former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, the presidents of the University of Houston and Rice University, a local Federal Emergency Management Agency representative as well as artists and leaders in the business and nonprofit sectors.

The Renewal Summit bills itself as a robust discussion between community members and leaders about what did and didn’t work in terms of the city’s response to the disaster. Participants will also tackle how the city can do a better job getting the word out about existing resources and preparing for future emergencies.

The recent survey done in preparation for the event collected information from 708 people in the Houston metropolitan area Oct. 20-28. Of those, 94 percent who suffered losses in the storm said they turned to friends, family and neighbors for help after Harvey, while just 16 percent of the group reported also looking to federal, state and local government for help.

The majority, 84 percent, said they felt prepared for the next storm. A similar majority said the hurricane brought communities closer than they were before Harvey.

The survey also found that millennials experienced the most disruption to their lives as a result of the storm and were less prepared for another hurricane of Harvey’s magnitude.

One notable result was that most respondents were satisfied with the government’s response, according to Roberto DeLeon, Allstate spokesman for Texas.

Academic researchers have begun collecting data as well. A survey by a University of Houston team found the storm had a disparate impact based on people’s income. Economic losses did not correlate to property loss but to income, said Pablo M. Pinto, who has conducted a series of surveys for the Hobby School of Public Affairs as director of the Center for Public Policy.

Losses were higher for Hispanics, African-Americans, people under 40 and for low-wage workers—regardless of property loss—whose modes of transportation or places of work were impacted by the storm.

“One of the things we saw about Harvey is that for those who were not impacted it had a huge impact,” Pinto said. “That’s why you see everybody coalescing about infrastructure projects.”