KATY/HARRIS COUNTY (Covering Katy News)—Katy-area residents worked to rebuild their lives, homes, and businesses after Hurricane Harvey arrived almost two years ago. Drive around the Katy area today, and it’s easy to assume that all is back to normal again. Sometimes, however, looks can be deceiving.
Houses might look good on the outside, but on the inside, they still need work. The people who live in those houses still need help.
One such example is Corina Contreras, who lives in the 19600 block of Knightsridge Lane in the Garden Trails Oaks subdivision. Her two-story home sustained floodwater damage of about 16 inches deep. Her neighbors on the south side of the street also sustained water damage in their homes. Meanwhile, the houses on the north side of the street have a slightly higher elevation and avoided the flooding.
A tour of her home begins with visitors putting on respirator masks. The first floor has been stripped bare, with walls torn out and mold remaining in the kitchen. A temporary sink is the only appliance in the kitchen. The other appliances have been removed. Furniture that could be saved was moved upstairs, which suffered no damage.
Contreras said many contractors were available to do mold remediation work after the storm, but not everyone performed the work to standard, which was the case with her house. More work is needed. Having no flood insurance, and having issues securing FEMA funding, complicated matters.
Working with the neighborhood association has also been an issue. Both the garage and yard need work. But Contreras said the inside, not the outside, of her house gets first priority. She and her six children moved to Spring Branch while the work gets done. Her oldest, who is 22, has since moved out on his own. Her youngest, Noah, was born only a month and a half before the storm hit. She jokes that Noah didn’t come with an ark.
Katy Responds, a network of business headers, churches, and civic-minded community leaders, is working with Contreras and others to rebuild their houses and make them homes again. Chelsea Lucas, Katy Responds office manager, said approximately 1,500 homes in the Katy area still need help.
Lucas said the Katy area, as defined by Katy Responds, is approximately the same area covered by the Katy Independent School District boundaries.
Contreras said when she first learned of Katy Responds, she thought she could get some help with her appliances. But she found out that Katy Responds does more than that. Volunteers provide construction and repair services (both high and low-skill), family support activities, and logistics and warehouse support, among other things.
“They have been great,” Contreras said. “They have been wonderful.”
In Contreras’s case, there’s no definite timeframe for moving back into her family home. The mold remediation issue must be resolved first.
Contreras said she and her family have found other blessings in their stressful situation. She said volunteers from PowerHouse Church, 1818 Katyland Dr., helped move furniture at the house. Also, her 14-year-old adopted son has made friends and mentors at the church.
“They pick him up on Sundays when I’m not available because of work,” Contreras, who works at HEB, said. “It’s been a blessing. He loves it.”
Volunteers and resources are still needed to help Katy-area residents still rebuilding after Harvey. For more information, visit katyresponds.com.