West Street Recovery

Disaster Response from the Winter Storm to Hurricane Season - April 2021 Newsletter

April 26, 2021

“We’re living in disaster all the time. We have learned how to exist in disaster."

With this most recent Earth Day we were reinvigorated and reinspired by the deep and expansive roots of West Street’s struggle for water, for housing, and for community. Mni Wiconi, water is life – the cry for justice of indigenous water protectors at Standing Rock – reminds us that we are inseparable from our ecology. So too ecology is inseparable from human systems of oppression, racism and colonization. As WSR works to make sure people have the food, water, and housing they need to survive perpetual and repeated disasters, we are always also working towards community power-building needed for large-scale shifts towards justice.

Doris Brown, WSR staffer and NAC organizer, puts it well: “We’re living in disaster all the time. We have learned how to exist in disaster. We never really recover. It’s gonna take a lot for us to ever “recover,” to have a more equitable community. We need to solve those underlying problems.”

Read our full blog post here. We talk about what a just recovery means, and how we can push for a world in which it is possible. The article is part of a much longer report evaluating the response to Hurricane Harvey, to be released later this year.

Since the winter storm WSR has re-established full water access to 59 homes, fully repiped 24 homes, and replaced sewer systems on 5 homes. Though there is great need across Houston, we have only been doing repairs for homes in the Northeast. We have been collaborating with Greater Houston Community Fund for funding and case referrals, as well as pushing them for more accessible eligibility requirements for the cases they accept.

As our response to the deep freeze continues, this year’s hurricane season is approaching fast. With the unfortunate expectation of more storms to come, our disaster prep team is ramping up several initiatives:

  1. “Go” bags with life-saving supplies for the first 24-48 hours post disaster
  2. A community roster for check-ins during and immediately after a disaster
  3. Community emergency response team trainings to train residents to help each other

Fundamentally disaster prep is about building resilience and investing ahead of time for the next disaster. To get our “go bags” off the ground, we’re asking for donations – $80 will fund a prep bag for a family of four. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation, and put “disaster bags” in the description.

To hear more about our recent work, please join our All-Hands Meeting this Sunday May 2, from 4-6 pm. We will give in depth report-backs on Deep Freeze response, disaster prep, organizing with NAC and Caucus, and community research. We will also have a collective conversation about our plans to purchase a property in the coming year, to serve as a community space for residents and our broader community.

Our All-Hands meetings are spaces where all of West Street’s community comes together, from past staff to residents to family and allies. We hope to get input and learn from you all to shape our future together. Register here.

With love,
West Street Recovery