Spencer Solves it: Woman's home damaged by Harvey, Bill's Brigade steps up to help

By Bill Spencer - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - With the loud sound of her oxygen machine cutting through the darkness, 82-year-old Elma Durham lies trapped in her own bed struggling to breathe.

Durham suffers from emphysema, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and congestive heart failure.

But by far, the greatest danger Durham has had to face for the last 11 months is the moldy, warped, water-soaked ceiling hanging right over her head.

During Hurricane Harvey, torrential rains tore a huge hole in the roof of her 50-year-old home and since then, she has had to live day in and out with the threat of that roof falling in on her and killing her in her own bed.

“What scares me the most, is the danger of that roof collapsing on her and killing her.  If it gives way, the weight of that roof is going to kill her.  In the meantime, the rain just pours down upon her every time it rains. Something has to be done,” said Sharon Evans, Durham’s daughter.

Unable to pay the $10,000 cost of repairs to both the interior and exterior of her home, and unable to get help from FEMA or the City of Houston, Durham's family contacted Spencer Solves It.

First, we brought in the roofing experts at Lessman Roofing and Sheet Metal, a firm with 30 years of experience in replacing all kinds of roofs.

In just one day, they completely tore off Durham's failing, torn-up roof and replaced it with a brand new one.

That’s a job that would have normally cost at least $5,000, but Gene Lessman agreed to do the job absolutely free with help from Eric Watson at Southern Shingles.

Next came the massive, interior teardown.

The support wood beams and structure right above Durham's bed were filled with black mold and wood rot and had to be ripped out completely.

For this job, we brought in another incredibly generous company, Rainproof Roofing in Bellaire.

For four long, hot days, the crew at Rainproof removed every piece of rotten wood, paneling and insulation and began rebuilding the interior of Durham's home.

Entirely new drywall, ceiling, electrical features, new lighting, fans and brand new carpeting.

Evan's family is stunned by the amount of work being done and the passion all of these people bring to the work.

“They have been absolutely working like crazy in this wild heat and humidity and they are getting it done," Evans said.

As for Durham, not only has her home been transformed, she has been transformed.

No longer choking on fumes from the black mold in her bedroom, she is now breathing freely with bright eyes and a big smile on her face.

“Oh, Lord, when I first came in here to this new, looks like new house, I was, I couldn't believe the difference. Oh, Lord, it’s just like the place has been regenerated and born again,” Durham said.

Sitting up in bed, inside her new bedroom, she looks like a different person than the woman we first met six weeks ago.

Grasping Spencer's hand in hers she said, “Thank you, Mr. Spencer. I feel 1,000 times better. God bless you."

Altogether, this entire project would have cost more than $10,000 and would not have been possible without the hard work and generosity of Lessman Roofing And Sheet Metal, Southern Shingles and Rainproof Roofing and Construction.

If you need help with a problem you can’t possibly solve by yourself, contact Spencer Solves It at 713-223-TIPS (8477) or email us at solvesit@click2houston.com.

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