Bettye Mack awoke one Friday morning in April to water quickly coming under the door of her house. She did everything she could to make it stop, but it was no use.
The water came into her house so fast she didn’t have a chance to save any of her belongings. By the time she and her adult son evacuated, the water had enveloped their living room coffee table.
The greater Houston area experienced record-breaking rains that caused flooding throughout the city and killed seven people. Some residents, like Mack, experienced it worse than others.
“My whole house was destroyed,” she said. “It’s depressing, it’s devastating, and it’s overwhelming. My husband passed two years ago, and I had him to help me with the flood in 2001. But now it is on me to do everything. And my sister passed two months ago in California. It’s like everything is coming at me at one time.”
Everything in her house is gone, she said. She tried to get help from several different places without luck until she found the Buckner Family Hope Center Houston/Aldine, which has been one of the main relief agencies helping flood victims in the Houston area.
The Family Hope Center has helped almost 100 families affected by the floods with immediate needs such as clothes, food, toiletries, hygiene items, bedding and even school uniforms.
“We are their community,” said Shawna Roy, director of the Hope Center. “We are here, and that is what community is about: helping those that are closest to us.”
The Hope Center is located next to several schools within the Aldine Independent School District and has partnered with the district to help provide relief to some of the nearly 600 families in the district affected by the floods.
As the floods resided, social workers and counselors for the district started referring donations and families still in need to the Hope Center.
“Our counselors and social workers are probably the first responders when they encounter the families,” said Charlotte Davis, director of guidance, counseling and at-risk students for the Aldine Independent School District. “But depending on how badly they were hit, it can take a good six months to a year … for some families to get back to some sort of normalcy again. [The Family Hope Center] vision and their desire to help families is huge with us. That keeps us pumping because we know they are going to be taken care of with everything they have within their means to work with.”
Every day this week, the Hope Center has collected and sorted through donations to hand out to families in need.
“We’re really thankful for all the people who have come and donated,” Roy said. “I love the fact that our community has come together. It’s been great to see all the different schools and churches come together to help. I’m really proud of us and our staff for stepping up and meeting that challenge.”
And Roy hopes that families will continue to come to the Hope Center in the future. Many families they have helped this week weren’t aware of the Hope Center or the programs they offer.
“It’s not really about what we’re giving them now, but helping to provide some long-term transformation and stability for the people that live right here,” Roy said. “We’re going to hug them and love them. Then hopefully build that relationship so that we can be there for them long-term to get them where they need to be.”
Written by Aimee Freston and Chelsea White; photos by Chelsea White.