GRACE is currently serving Hurricane Laura refugees still sheltered in local hotels.

“Our mission guides us to ‘demonstrate compassion for those less fortunate by providing assistance to individuals and families in crisis’,” said GRACE Chief Program Officer Stacy Pacholick. “And while we often identify ‘those less fortunate’ as being unable to afford proper food, shelter, clothing, or medical care, in this instance, there is no denying these folks are facing one of the most devastating crises in their lives.”

Refugees from Hurricane Laura began arriving in Grapevine ahead of the storm’s anticipated landfall last Wednesday, August 26. By Monday of this week, nearly 400 rooms at the Gaylord Texan were dedicated to those who fled the destruction of the Category 4 storm.

While Laura was still in the Gulf of Mexico swirling towards the Texas-Louisiana border, local and state officials, fearing COVID-19 exposure, had made the decision to house evacuees in government-paid hotel rooms instead of large, over-crowded emergency shelters.

The Gaylord Texan, and other hotels throughout North Texas opened their doors. The Red Cross managed to settle these families and provide for their immediate needs, but Red Cross attention was soon diverted to the hundreds of thousands struggling to survive in the aftermath of Laura.

“Matt [Matt Feryan, Coordinator of the Grapevine Office of Emergency Management (OEM)] called us and asked for our help,” said Stacy. The OEM had worked with GRACE on many occasions in the past, including serving families displaced by large-scale apartment fires in the area.

“There are a few individuals, but most all drove here as a family, and many brought pets with them,” said Stacy. “Some have returned home to begin the clean-up, but many have heard there is nothing to return to.”

The people who came to the Gaylord—some 1,400 as estimated by hotel management—believed their stay would be brief, a few days at most.

“Most of these families only came with the clothes on their backs, and little else,” said Stacy. Clothing, especially children’s clothing, socks, and underwear were critical needs. Specialized needs, like infant-care supplies and dietary supplements, were required necessities as well.

“One family has a baby just 9 days old,” said Stacy. “Newborn diapers, formula, baby wipes, baby oil, shampoo—all of the essentials needed to care for a new baby—were needed.”

The GRACE Food Pantry and its offerings that include hygiene supplies, laundry products, pet food, disinfecting materials, and other goods have been a godsend.

“Another infant needed a specific formula mix, prescribed by a pediatrician,” said Stacy. “Fortunately, we just happened to have it in stock.”

A number of older and disabled evacuees also required specialized care, including special dietary supplements like Ensure. “We even got a request for a wheelchair,” said Stacy.

While we do not wish for this type of circumstance, when catastrophe strikes, GRACE is intensely honored to be considered a partner by the City of Grapevine and the American Red Cross. For more information about the GRACE response to Hurricane Laura, please contact Stacy Pacholick at 817-305-4636.