It has been more than a year since Hurricane Harvey, the Category 4 storm that made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast with winds up to 130 miles per hour, led to the destruction of many houses and buildings in the Houston and Gulf Coast areas.
In late October, 15 students and two staff members representing Mays and the Office of Diversity & Inclusion traveled to Vidor, Texas, near Beaumont, to aid in the continued relief efforts. Most of the students were members of the Regents’ Ambassador Program for first-generation scholars. This is the group’s second service trip to Southeast Texas. Last fall, students and staff worked to “muck out” a home that had been completely submerged during the storm.
The students painted with primer two homes that were damaged by Hurricane Harvey. The project followed another group that had prepared the drywall. The next teams that work on the homes will continue to process by applying the paint finish, allowing the rebuilders to begin the floor restoration process. It will take continual, collective efforts to finish these homes.
At one home, the water was waist-deep when the resident’s neighbors rescued her in their boat. Both homes’ residents – older females – are still residing in FEMA trailers. One resident was out of town when the students worked, but her daughter hosted the group and worked alongside them, swapping stories about SEC schools and football. The other resident, challenged with mobility issues, was incredibly appreciative for the group’s efforts, as she is not able to work on the home herself.
The team partnered with non-profit group Nehemiah’s Vision, which still has about 140 homes in line to be repaired. The organization is calling on all able school, religious, and community groups to partner as they work to rebuild the area. Many residents still reside in FEMA trailers, and some have departed their homes without expectation of a return, due to the associated costs of rebuilding.