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Five Years Since Hurricane Harvey: Survivor's Home Restored

On August 26, 2017, 130 mph winds besieged Harris County for four consecutive days, inundating 70% of the land with over a foot and a half of flood water as Hurricane Harvey hovered over Houston (Amadeo, 2019). According to the Associated Press, over 150,000 Houston homes were flooded, leaving more than 16,000 homeowners needing rebuilding assistance, marking the second most costly natural disaster in United States history, second only to Hurricane Katrina (Lozano, 2020). It is estimated that nearly 75% of the flooded homes sat outside of a FEMA-designated flood zone, therefore homeowners were told they did not need flood insurance. Because homeowners did not have flood insurance, families were left with only modest FEMA awards to rebuild the substantial damage to their residences. But just as quickly as Harvey descended, NGOs like SBP responded, supported by corporate partners like Farmers Insurance, to help the most vulnerable families rebuild their homes and lives. Five Years later, SBP’s Rebuild Program continues to help Harvey survivors and has returned 830 families home to date. While we are proud of the impact of this program, there are still thousands of homeowners are still in need of assistance (Watkins, 2022).

Get Involved with SBP and bring light back into the life of someone like Mr. Rogers.

Houstonians with means were able to recover quickly, but for many vulnerable and underresourced families, their journey home has lacked predictability. Challenges presented during the Covid-19 health crisis and subsequent lockdowns exacerbated these delays. One such homeowner was Mr. John Rogers, who lives in his childhood home, next door to his sister. The roof of Mr. Roger’s family home was lifted by the Category 4 winds and exposed to the torrential downpour, causing sheetrock to fall from his ceiling indoors and mold to fester within the insulation and drywall. Most of his son’s belongings were destroyed, while his floors, electrical, insulation, sheetrock, drywall, doors, and HVAC system required major repairs. Mr. Rogers, however, could not afford the repairs due to his unemployment, caused by a severe eye injury that required several intensive surgeries that left him partially blind. “I was just trying to make ends meet when Harvey hit,” he shared. As he sat in the dark of his living room, losing hope that his health would ever recover and his family home would ever be repaired, a knock came at his door.

Mr. Roger's family photos from within his family home
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Mr Rogers Blog
His backyard where his two dogs play, where his father would bring wild game to bbq for the entire neighborhood. His blooming rosebush in his front yard where the door is always open.

SBP’s dedicated team of Americorps members had been going door-to-door, offering homeowners Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the Covid-19 Pandemic and surveying homeowners needing rebuilding assistance. When Mr. Rogers opened his door and shared his story, our team recommended SBP’s Owner-Occupied Rebuild Program, which utilizes volunteers, charitable donations, and grants to return homeowners to their homes and communities following a disaster. Seeing that Mr. Roger’s was on the brink of giving up hope for the recovery of his home and health, SBP’s Houston team feared that if life threw one more challenge his way, he was at risk of reaching his breaking point. Mr. Rogers had lost sight of a clear path forward and needed help to see a light at the end of the tunnel. The moment when our team called to greenlight his application, he shares that it served as the jolt of energy he needed to kick-start a health recovery that transformed his mental and physical well-being.

Exposed Wall
An exposed wall during electrical, plumbing, and re-drywalling.
Houston Ameri Corps Member Rebuild 7
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The Houston AmeriCorps team hard at work.

The day after SBP offered assistance, Mr. Rogers started walking the track and field near his house–a feat he previously saw as impossible due to his eyesight. Each day he came home from the track, he rejoiced in the sight of SBP’s Americorps Members and teams of volunteers in his yard, fixing the house that held so much importance to his family and entire neighborhood. “They gave me a boost in my spirit…they really let me know that this world we live in is good, and that good trumps over evil,” he said as he held back tears. The volunteers were not only giving him a roof over his head but also the key to a new mindset and a new life.

Living Room
Renovated living room and bathroom.

On the day of his coming home party, Mr. Rogers stood proudly in his newly finished home, revealing the memories that the house held and shedding light on the darkness that consumed his life when it was destroyed. He admitted that he wouldn’t have been able to stand in front of the camera before today, but now he’s a new John. “Thanks to you guys, my prayers have been answered.” To all of the volunteers across the nation, Mr. Rogers thanks you for bringing light to people’s lives and for giving him a “new life.” And to all the disaster survivors like him, “You think there’s no hope, but there is hope. Keep your faith. Leave it with God. I kept the faith, and look at me now.”

Mr Rogers
WHITE PINK Flower Tree Douglas Kalagian
Mr. Rogers standing proudly after the completion of his rebuild. AmeriCorps Members resting underneath the shade of his pink crepe myrtle tree.
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Homemade chocolate cake Welcome Home
Mr. Roger's Welcome Home Party coincided with his birthday, so our staff and team of AmeriCorps Members made sure they celebrated both occasions.

Get Involved with SBP and bring light back into the life of someone like Mr. Rogers.