HOUSTON – As the anniversary of Hurricane Harvey nears, KPRC is taking time to remember the heroes that helped this city become #HoustonStrong. One of those heroes is Kat Creech, a Houston-based wedding planner who, through a turn of events, turned a postponed wedding into a large-scale volunteer effort which is still going strong today.
Nearly a year after Harvey, one can still find Creech, finding the stories of Harvey survivors like 75-year-old Willie Rateliff, whose dilapidated northeast Houston home hadn't been touched since the storm.
"When we originally found him, this is where he currently still lives," Creech said, pointing to a small room crowded with things, clothes, old furniture and trash.
"He has a small unit and a TV and his Bible, and that's where he hangs out," Creech said. "So we're getting the A/C up and running this weekend. We'll be doing the floors, carpet and put in some new framing."
This, however, is just one of hundreds of instances where Creech had touched the life of a Harvey survivor in need. KPRC first reported on Creech after a wedding she was planning was postponed after Harvey.
"Sarah and Mo, that couple who just instantly knew that there was no way they could celebrate in a time of need, changed my destiny," Creech said.
Instead, she organized their in-town guests to help rebuild.
"There were about 100 volunteers. I immediately went into logistics mode--'How do I place them?' 'Where do I go?' 'Who is the organization I place them with that can help me help them do a kind deed? And what I realized very quickly is that I couldn't find that organization. Out of that, the idea was born," Creech said.
That idea became Recovery Houston. Using her planning skills, she eventually started to galvanize thousands of other volunteers to meet hundreds of needs, turning houses into homes and even beautifying schools.
"That course has been incredible, and I couldn't walk away," Creech said. "In three months, we moved 2500 volunteers, we recovered 250 homes."
Creech credits her team of volunteers for the good work that has changed people's lives. Their efforts were recognized by President Barack Obama, who tweeted KPRC's story of her efforts as one of the most memorable of 2017. Creech was also a Point of Light Award winner and met five former presidents.
"The journey has been remarkable," Creech said. "I got to fist-bump President Obama."
However, Creech said Recovery Houston's work is far from over. She says grants, sponsorship and volunteers are vital and will help to keep Recovery Houston's volunteer efforts alive and strong. Creech said there are still many people who are in dire need of help.
"You might have given already. You might have volunteered one weekend a long time ago, but just remember that Harvey is still very, very real to a lot of people," Creech said.
It's real for Rateliff, who will soon have new floors and A/C.
"They need a blessing," Rateliff said.
Creech said the organization will continue to do good work in the community.
"It's a calling. It's a heart to serve," Creech said. "It's all about giving back."
Recovery Houston is organizing a 5K fundraiser on Sept. 15.
For more information on Recovery Houston, you can visit its website.