by Brenda Scott and Trisha Seguin
We just returned from a four day UMCOR trip to Victoria TX to aid survivors of Hurricane Harvey. We had a team of 12: six from First Church-Round Rock, two from Cross Plains, and four from Mansfield. It was 40 degrees and drizzling when we started out. Brrr!
At our first house, we installed a wheel chair ramp for an older gentleman who had to be lifted out of his house to go anywhere. He can now get to his car for medical visits and basically just be able to get out!
The team also put a tarp on leaking gable.
At the second house, we tarped the entire roof.
Next, the team was able to remove damaged drywall in ceiling and walls. We replaced drywall and applied the tape and mud. Every time the client walked through, she cried tears of joy. She called her daughter to tell her that she would not recognize the house, then called us “Old School” because we came out and helped them. Being called Old School did not bother me one bit!
Our third house involved a four member family in a trailer house. Where the exterior walls met the floor there were gaps you could get your hand through. Needless to say the kids’ hands and feet could get stuck, so we installed baseboard to keep critters and cold out. We also reinstalled a toilet that had been donated to them, but was missing some crucial parts for it to be able to run. The kids were super happy to have their own toilet. Think about that – their Christmas is a running toilet! Last item on the agenda for that property was to replace drywall that had been water damaged.
We were also sent to assess other homes and this is when my heart ached. We arrived at what was left of a house belonging to a 61 year old grandmother, living with her four grandchildren. All that remained of her possessions after Harvey passed was a chair, a space heater, a floor lamp, and a tv, which she kept tuned to Praise the Lord. Several chunks of roof were missing where you could see clear sky, and the remaining roof was not watertight. Half the windows were missing.
Every room positioned against an exterior wall was exposed in some way to the outside, the subfloor was soggy and soft, and mold marched up and down every wall. Much of the house is beyond repair. She and the kids sleep in the tool shed because she knows she doesn’t want to expose the children to the mold and damp. The tool shed has no electricity. FEMA denied her any assistance.
So if you are still reading, this area still needs your help! Most have received what money they will get from FEMA and most do not have insurance. Yes, this will be an ongoing project for a couple of years – work still needs to be done and this problem is not fixed. Figure out how to support your UMCOR teams or others that can help in repairs. We need hands and feet on the ground. You can help in so many ways. For more information, contact Dave Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Trisha Seguin and J P Page