Local organization, Katy Responds, restores 100 homes since Hurricane Harvey

HOUSTON – Virginia Holcomb’s eyes welled up as she described her gratitude in knowing the road home has been paved.

“I’ve waited for so long since Harvey,” said Holcomb, who has resided in the Bear Creek area of west Harris County for 23 years.

During Hurricane Harvey, flooding from Barker and Addicks Reservoirs inundated homes, including Holcomb’s, who evacuated her home in the middle of the night.

“(The water) came in a matter of minutes through my garage door, front door, and back door. It just gushed in, gushed in I’d never seen anything like it,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb returned home one month after the flooding subsided to begin the process of rebuilding. She retired just before Harvey and used most of her retirement fund to pay for her home to be gutted and re-wired.

“It was getting lower and lower and lower. It was almost gone,” Holcomb said. 

A bad experience with a contractor meant the job she had financed didn’t get done. Instead, mold overwhelmed Holcomb’s kitchen and bathroom after it grew in cabinets, just about anywhere it could grow -- it did.

Holcomb knew she no longer could spend what little remained of her retirement money. She began to look for help and it took one phone call that changed her life.

“I’m extremely blessed by that,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb’s home repair was completed by Katy Responds, a nonprofit organization founded after Hurricane Harvey with one goal: Rebuild the homes of those who can’t afford to get the job done themselves.

“We were put together by several churches in the Katy community,” said Ron Peters, executive director of Katy Responds.

Peters worked as a contractor for decades. Katy Responds has a small team of staff, and volunteers, who not only rebuild Harvey-flooded homes in the west Harris County-Katy area -- they also go door-to-door searching for residents who need help but may not want to admit it.

Virginia Holcomb was among that number.

Ron Peters said volunteers removed cabinets in order to get rid of mold from the kitchen and bathroom, along with painting walls, and installing new doors.

The organization estimates there are some 1,200 residents in the west Harris County area who still need help.  Holcomb’s renovation marked the organization’s 100th.  Thirteen additional homes are in the process of being repaired. Katy Responds is working to secure financing through donations to fund repairs for an additional seven homes.

Their acts of kindness are dependent on the kindness of others.

“We were able to come alongside through donations, through some grants, we fought and clawed for enough money to get in here,” Peters said.

Holcomb said she’s forever grateful. She thought home never would feel the same after Harvey. She’s happy she was wrong.

“I’m thankful for all the crew workers and, geez, I don’t have the words for that, but I’m thankful,” she said, holding back tears.

Katy Responds is looking for volunteers and others to help raise money.

For more information, click here to direct to its website.

About the Author:

Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. NOLA born and bred, though #HoustonStrong, with stops in Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut in along the way.