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Hurricane Harvey was strong, but Houston families prove stronger

A year later, Maricela Guzman still remembers when Hurricane Harvey entered her neighborhood, her street and finally her home. The storm was strong, but her family believed they were safe. 


The rain came with a vengeance, and the floodwaters quickly filled the street in front of their brick home. Before they realized it, water was pouring into the structure.


“That afternoon, we left the house with water up to our waist and we walked in the street,” she said. “We were sad. We didn’t know how the house would be when we would come back.”


Maricela, her husband and her three children worked their way down the street and around the corner with many of their neighbors to a nearby fire station where they were taken on a school bus to a makeshift shelter. It was full, so they crossed the street to another shelter. There, they spent the night on the floor.


The next day, the family went to a friend’s house. They stayed there until they could return to their home.


Maricela still fights back emotions as she shares how she found it. Most of their clothes were beyond repair. All of the furniture was soaked, as were the floors, furnishings and drywall. It was a mess. And it was uninsured.


“The water was three foot deep in our house,” she said. “The water came through the vents in the bricks.”


Just like that, all the family had worked so hard to accomplish was gone. They had worked through the Buckner Family Hope Center at Aldine in Houston to strengthen their family, participating in the Impact program as well taking classes such as Jobs for Life, English as a Second Language and Nurturing Parenting Classes. They even volunteered at various Hope Center events to shine hope into the lives of others.


“We stayed at home because we didn’t have anywhere else to go,” Maricela said. “The children had to return to school. There were no other options.”


Maricela and her husband, Antonio Gutierrez, were determined to push forward. They began making repairs to the home, and Buckner helped the family by providing sheetrock, spackle, baseboards and insulation. Day by day since, they’ve sought to rebuild their homes and their lives.


Working as often as they can, the couple has repaired the sheetrock and insulation in four of the bedrooms, the living room, the dining room and part of the kitchen. As they’ve worked on their home, they’ve sought to help their children as well, including a teenage daughter who suffers from panic attacks each time it rains.


“I try to be strong for them,” Maricela said with tears in her eyes. “But it is frustrating. We haven’t finished.”


Maricela’s family is just one of many in the area who were affected by Hurricane Harvey. A significant portion of them continues rebuilding like Maricela and Antonio. Each day, life gets better.


“Hurricane Harvey tried to defeat the families we serve,” said Shonice Reed, director of the Family Hope Center. “But that’s not possible. Our families are determined. Our families are strong. They work hard. They’re resilient. Maricela and Antonio are just one example of that. The journey they’re on has been a long and difficult one, but they will complete it.”

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