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United Way of Hays County distributes first of 2015 Memorial Day Flood donations to Hays & Caldwell relief organizations

Short-term basic needs and long-term recovery operations for Hays and Caldwell Counties were funded this week by the United Way of Hays County’s Flood Relief Fund, created after the devastating 2015 Memorial Day floods that left hundreds of homes damaged, caused millions of dollars in damage, and took at least a dozen lives.

Thirty thousand dollars, raised in the two weeks since the flood, were distributed to relief organizations in Martindale, San Marcos and Wimberley-based organizations providing direct relief to flood survivors. Recipients included Southside Community Center,  San Marcos; Serve San Marcos, San Marcos; Ministerial Alliance, Martindale/Caldwell County; and The Barnabas Connection and My Neighbor’s Keeper, Wimberley.

“This is first distribution of hundreds of thousands of dollars that have been raised since United Way of Hays County created the fund May 25,” said Michelle Harper, President and CEO of the 32-year old non-profit that funds about two dozen programs annually that improve outcomes for Hays County residents in the area of Education, Health and Income, mainly through workplace giving campaigns and funds raised from its signature event “Taste of Hays County.”

“The board established the fund to provide a transparent, efficient, simple process to direct flood relief donations directly to relieve organizations in the current priority needs of housing and support of elderly, children and disabled survivors and single household families,” said Harper. “Our role is to help coordinate efforts, mobilize our vast network of volunteers, and reach out to our donors for support to be distributed to local organizations providing direct services.”

A benefit concert held Sunday at The Marc featured San Marcos native sons Blue October, who performed along with Ray Wiley Hubbard at a sold-out show that raised about $200,000 from ticket sales, sponsorships, donations during the event and donated tips from The Marc staff, Harper said. The #BandTogetherTX concert, presented by San Marcos Toyota and Woods Comfort Systems, featured performances from Midnight River Choir and Aaron Behrens of Ghostland Observatory.

“The outpouring of support for our neighbors who were affected by the flood is overwhelming,” Harper said. “From volunteers, to folks donating supplies, to those donating needed items, to local businesses and organizations holding fundraisers, Hays County and San Marcos have responded to local needs,” she said.

United Way of Hays County has played an important role in the weeks immediately following the flood, said Kim Porterfield, chairperson of the all-volunteer board of directors.

“United Way has been there, alongside other local and regional organizations, to help with immediate relief and long-term recovery. Two ‘Day of Caring’ events attracted hundreds of volunteers to the Blanco Gardens neighborhood in San Marcos and Martindale and surrounding areas, to help residents salvage what they could and pull out what was destroyed,” she said.

The United Way of Hays County volunteer board of directors established the 2015 Flood Relief Fund on May 25 to benefit partners, agencies and other organizations that are providing direct assistance to flood victims throughout Hays and Caldwell Counties in the wake of the devastating Memorial Day Weekend Flood.

Priorities for immediate disbursal of funds are to fund agencies and organizations who are assisting flood survivors who have immediate housing needs, focusing on survivors with no flood insurance, and initiatives that support the elderly, children, disabled and single household families.
Working with city, county, state, national, and local long-term recovery efforts, future funds from the United Way of Hays County 2015 Flood Relief Fund will be promptly dispersed and a long-term recovery allocation plan is being developed in collaboration with all stakeholders, Porterfield said.

For more than three decades, volunteer board members, local partner agencies, and donors of the United Way of Hays County have invested and developed programs that address some of Hays County’s critical needs. “We continue to help children graduate, guide families toward financial stability, and create opportunities for people to live healthy, vibrant lives while reducing the demand for social services borne by cities and the county,” Porterfield said.

UWHC board members include Kim Porterfield- Director of Community Relations, Texas State University; Joel Williams, Butler Manufacturing Co.; Scott Gregson, Gregson Investments; John Navarrette, CenturyLink; Billy Stokes, Community Volunteer; Grace Davis, Hays Caldwell Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse; Wayne Becak- Community Volunteer; Brian Bondy, San Marcos Chamber of Commerce; Rose Brooks, Community Volunteer; Diane Dupont- Community Volunteer; Danny Gonzales, Martin Marietta; Michelle Hamilton, Texas State University; Bryan Magnuson, HEB Dripping Springs and Kenneth R. Williams, Buda City Manager; Rosina Valle, Community Volunteer and Jenny Leidecker, San Marcos Daily Record.

Residents needing flood assistance are advised to call the FEMA hotline to register for benefits at 1-800-621-3362, call the City of San Marcos’ flood hotline at (512) 753-2320 and visit the City of San Marcos’ Flood Resources webpage at www.sanmarcostx.gov/smtxflood