Hurricane Harvey has passed, and those of us living in South Texas have either been personally impacted or have witnessed the damage to our communities. Harvey, a Category 4 hurricane with a 280-mile diameter, brought record-breaking amounts of rainfall for a single storm in the U.S., dumping as much as 51 inches of rain in parts of Texas. Some cities on the Texas coast received 26 inches of rain in 24 hours.
In Houston and surrounding areas, this rainfall quickly turned to flooding that endangered many of our own team members. Numerous Cornerstone team members went without electricity and air-conditioning for days. Others saw torrents of dirty water flood their homes and their cars. Houses were damaged, belongings were lost, and many properties were destroyed completely.
Homeowners impacted by Harvey, you could receive 90-day grace on your mortgage. Find out more about our offer of forbearance.
‘However long the night, the dawn will break’
Marc Laird, our Chairman & CEO at Cornerstone, says, “I continue to be amazed by the generous actions of team members helping each other throughout the company, while doing everything possible to keep the business running with minimal interruption.”
Cornerstone Home Lending is now lending in 40 states, but our corporate office is located in Houston. Immediately after Hurricane Harvey hit, our Houston Corporate Office remained closed by the building owners due to high water levels. The office was later chained shut by the Fire Marshall because of unsafe conditions. Many of our other lending offices in the area were also inaccessible. As Hurricane Harvey left Texas and headed to Louisiana, its death count was numbered at 30. Up to 30 percent of Harris County was estimated to have flooded.
And yet, our loyal Houston team members continued working remotely and diligently to keep our company running. Major company-wide systems still functioned as loan officers worked to close loans on time, by telecommuting and from other office locations.
“I applaud our team members for their outstanding performances over the past two weeks, in the midst and aftermath of the worst natural disaster to ever hit Texas,” Laird says. “With no access or power to our corporate headquarters, our team members sprang into action. They took charge to make sure that systems, phones, administrative and accounting functions, all the loan production support functions, marketing, locking loans, processing, underwriting, closing, funding, post-closing, and compliance functions continued to work so loans would close on time.”
“I believe with all my heart in what we are doing together and am thankful that God has directed me here.” – Read more Cornerstone team member testimonials here.
Within our Cornerstone work-family, Laird says he was honored to see team members working together. Our team figured out what needed to be done to fulfill their responsibilities to keep our business running. In the midst of crisis, these team members took action. Many relocated on their own to other offices throughout the state. Others worked from homes, apartments, and even hotel rooms to get their jobs done. Many incredible team members even provided rescue assistance to victims of the storm.
#CornerstoneStrong: Team member stories of resilience, faith, and inspiration
Because of Harvey, more than 50 of our team members were forced to evacuate their homes. Dozens more reported that their homes had flooded. Several team members lost vacation homes in Port Aransas and along the Texas coast. Family members of team members also had their homes destroyed in Houston. But even during this time of crisis, we continue to hear story after story of team members within our company providing help to fellow team members, neighbors, and strangers in need. We’re amazed at the generosity and teamwork we’ve see from our team members and community in these dire circumstances.
Below are just a few examples of the incredible ways our team members have maintained their strength and given back in the face of disaster:
Team member rescues.
Yolanda Nichols, a Cornerstone QC auditor, was rescued by our Chief Compliance Officer Derek Bolls after her home flooded. (Pictured third from the right.) This photo was taken when Yolanda returned to clean up her home with fellow QC auditor Paula Metzler.
David Couch, a Cornerstone loan officer, made national news when he drove from San Antonio to Houston to perform rescues. David and his two brothers-in-law bought a 5-ton high-water truck to better rescue those trapped in the flooding, upon the suggestion of a Houston police officer.
“Thanks to everyone for their prayers and emails. I really appreciate it,” David says. Expenses still need to be finalized. But David estimates that his rescue group raised more than $4,000 from donations. This will go to the JJ Watt Foundation.
Team member volunteers.
Cornerstone team member Marilyn Anderson joined a team of helpers to clear over 10 properties damaged by the hurricane. (Pictured with red beanie.)
Alejandro Sanchez, Cornerstone Financial Reporting Manager in the League City area; Luis ZelayaI, a Cornerstone accounting team member in the Katy area; and Vaibhavee Tripathi, a Cornerstone Post Closing team member in the Houston Bellaire/West University area are some of the many team members who made themselves available to help after Harvey. Other team members volunteered at local churches and outreach centers to support their communities.
Do you need disaster assistance? Please contact your loan officer for help.
Our roots are here, in Texas. This is the great state that gave our company the support it needed almost 30 years ago when we set out to make dreams of homeownership come true. Since day one, our heart of service hasn’t changed, and we want to return the favor. We saw firsthand how this natural disaster devastated our city’s homeowners, starting with the team members in our company.
At this time, we’ve extended our internal Cornerstone CARE Fund to take care of every team member who has or will experience flooding or significant loss.
To our team members, we are amazed at the personal sacrifice, the commitment to our Core Convictions, the self-motivation, the passion for excellence, and the care for others that was on display throughout Cornerstone and our affiliate companies! Your efforts have been witnessed and are admired and sincerely appreciated.
Our prayers continue to flow for impacted team members and Houston-area families who experienced loss. We also continue to pray for the safety of our team members in Florida, North Carolina, and along the eastern coast who may have been affected by Hurricane Irma.
For educational purposes only. Please contact your qualified professional for specific guidance.
Sources are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.