Charles and Vilayphone Smith Vs. Hurricane Harvey
A 4-foot wall of water surged from Cypress Creek down Gore Grass Court, just days after Hurricane Harvey had moved out of the area, forcing 85 year-old Korean Veteran Charles Smith and his wife Vilayphone to flee their 3200 sq. ft. home they had lived in over 20 years. They walked in muddy water for a half a mile through their neighborhood, where their daughter was waiting at Spring Stuebner Road.
It took only seconds to understand what was happening, but they feared it would be years before they could rebuild their home.
Charles and Vilayphone Receive Assistance From FEMA
The Smith's eventually returned to find, like thousands of others, that 4 feet of water had destroyed their first floor. With no flood insurance, the Smith's first turned to FEMA for help. It took several months to finalize those funds. The Smith's received $28,000 to begin cleaning up and treating their home for mold. They covered the rest of the remediation and debris removal with their savings.
With over 100,000 homes damaged from the flood waters, programs and initiatives were being created to assist those homeowners needing assistance in rebuilding or restoring what remains. Just days after Harvey made landfall, HomeAid Houston, a 501 c 3 charity of the Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA), partnered with the David Weekley Family Foundation (DWFF), to form BuildAid Houston.
The Smith's Meet Construction Team from BUILDAID
The Smith's realized they needed more help to rebuild. After learning about BuildAid from an article in the Houston Chronicle, they completed an application form on the BuildAid website. Once qualified, they were matched with a BuildAid builder partner from Chesmar Homes, one of several experienced builder members of the Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA). From there they worked directly with their builder to prepare their materials selection package.
It's been nearly a year that the Smith's home flooded like thousands of others. But their restoration process has begun and they anticipate, with the help of their builder they will be in their restored home within two months.
"I never thought at 85 years old, and 20 years of that in the Navy," said Charles, "I would be nearly homeless. But finding BuildAid and our build leader James Boone and Chesmar Homes, has changed the course of our lives. They have given me reason to look forward to turning 100!"
"Stories of survival and loss, resiliency and hope continue to emerge from the devastating effect of Hurricane Harvey, even a year later," said Chris Yuko, director of BuildAid. "The personal stories are different, the locations vary, but the life-altering impact of 51 inches of non-stop rainfall on the landscape and fabric of a community, remains a constant. We are proud to be able to help change the course of so many homeowner's lives through this valuable initiative."