Drained: Houstonians step up to help Navy Veteran drained by $5000 water bill

Houston – As KPRC 2 Investigates dozens of water billing errors and irregularities leaving you drained, one customer caught the attention of many of you.

Where the city of Houston failed 92-year-old Navy veteran Jessie Lara, the people of Houston have stepped up to help. Over the last five months, more than 200 volunteers and donors have renovated and repaired Lara’s 100 year-old home to help him live in comfort and dignity.

92-year-old Jessie Lara said he is so thankful for all of the help from volunteers. (KPRC)

When Lara’s niece contacted investigator Amy Davis earlier this year, she wanted help figuring out why her uncle’s city of Houston water bill was nearly $5000. A licensed plumber discovered Lara had a leak in his underground line that ran from his water meter to his home. 24/7 Plumbing out of Katy was the first business to step up. The company not only repaired the leak, but completely re-piped Lara’s home built in 1912.

From there, the offers to help poured in. Houston non-profit The Restoration Team has acted as the general contractor and lead on the massive project. They coordinated all of the labor and purchased brand new windows for the home.

Jeremy Cover of Cover HVAC donated a new HVAC system and installed all new ductwork in Navy veteran Jessie Lara's home. (KPRC)

Cover HVAC, out of Magnolia, donated a brand new AC and put in all new ductwork, along with a new programmable thermostat.

“We came in and looked at it, and there was just really no reasonable way to make the existing unit work,” explained owner Jeremy Cover. “And the ductwork was all falling apart. It was installed pretty poorly to begin with. I wouldn’t have felt right just leaving it, band-aided up.”

Lara’s kitchen was gutted. One donor made new cabinets so that they could keep Lara’s original 100-year-old kitchen sink.

Kitchen in 1912 home before The Restoration Team started renovations. (KPRC)
A volunteer made these cabinets so that Lara could keep his original kitchen sink. (KPRC)

“Getting these donations in for the flooring and drywall and such allowed us to do much more for Jesse than what we would have been able to do with the TRT budget,” said John Work.

Lara hasn’t been at home during all of the work. He was in the hospital and then a rehabilitation center. KPRC 2 will be there when he comes home for the first time to see his new old place.

If you want to help support The Restoration Team, you can donate here.

Here are links to some of the generous businesses that have helped Lara without asking for anything in return.

Retrofoam insulated the walls.

Cover HVAC

Blevins Electric, LLC rewired the entire home.

24/7 Plumbing Co re-piped the whole home and trimmed out the plumbing in the bathrooms.

About the Author:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.