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Spencer Solves It: Roof damaged during Harvey is repaired

HOUSTON – With the sound of her oxygen machine blaring in the background, 82-year-old Elma Durham lay trapped in her bed struggling to breathe.

Durham suffers from emphysema, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure, but the most serious threat to her life -- the moldy, warped, water-soaked ceiling above her bed -- hangs directly over her head.

“What scares me the most is that roof collapsing down on her and killing her,” Durham’s daughter, Sharon Evans, said.

During Hurricane Harvey, Durham’s tiny Sunnyside home was battered by torrential rains and her aging roof opened up, allowing the rain to pour in.

Knowing that Durham can’t even get out of her own bed without a hoist and several people assisting her, Evans began applying to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the city Of Houston’s Home Repair Program and other groups for help in getting the roof repaired.

“I mean, I wrote everybody. I sent it to the city of Houston, the FEMA. I sent it to them all and you (KPRC investigative reporter Bill Spencer), you were the only one that responded. You responded the very next day,” Evans said.

With nowhere else to turn, Sharon contacted Spencer Solves It for help.

With no time to waste and a bedridden woman’s life at stake, SSI leapt into action.

We immediately called the roofing experts at Lessman Roofing and Sheet Metal in Conroe.

Lessman specializes in residential roofing repair and replacement and, within a couple of days, a seven-man crew was hard at work, tearing off Durham’s old, rotting roof and completely replacing it.

The crew at Lessman began by putting down new decking, felt paper and heavy-duty shingles.

Gene Lessman provided all of the labor and Eric Watson, with Southern Shingles, provided all of the materials.

“If you don’t fix this now, it is only going to get worse and it could cave in and collapse on her and kill her,” Watson said.

Lessman was thrilled to help Durham with such an important fix.

“Everybody has problems, but if more people took care of their fellow man, it would be a better place to live on this earth,” Lessman said.

In one day and 10 hours of work, the job was done and Durham now has a brand-new roof on her home.

“Now, my mom, whatever time she has left here, she won’t have to spend it worrying about the roof above her head falling in and killing her. Thank you so much. This is a blessing,” Evans said.