Dickinson resident Georgeanna Santarelli and her husband are still living in their damaged home two months after Hurricane Harvey.
“We are actively seeking alternative places to live because we have been told it will be at least six months before the place is to where we can get back into the house,” Santarelli said. “The mold is bad — it looks like chalk. The animals are getting sick and we feel bad, getting headaches and puking.”
Santarelli is among thousands of Galveston County residents trying to piece their lives back together after Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall Aug. 25 in Rockport, traveled along the coast and dumped more than 50 inches of rain in some areas, overflowing rivers and creeks and causing destructive flooding across the region.
Much of the immediate relief efforts have passed, but need very much remains. Residents whose homes didn’t sustain flooding are wondering how to help neighbors and friends. Money? Groceries?
“Imagine going to a housewarming party,” Dickinson resident Breanne Andoe said. “We need all of that sort of stuff — everything you can imagine — stuff we didn’t even think of at first. I’ll think, ‘Oh, pulled pork sounds good right now. Oh wait, I don’t have a crock pot anymore.’”
Andoe, like thousands of residents in the county, didn’t have flood insurance.
“For me and my family, that becomes very costly. But, on the plus side, we don’t have to wait for insurance companies to approve everything. We went out and got loans, because thankfully we have good credit, and got started while others are still waiting.”
Andoe’s house took on 3 feet of water during the storm, she said.
Repairs are ongoing, but Andoe and her family would most benefit from help covering some of the gaps, she said.
Scott Guzman, of League City, said gift cards or donations of building supplies would be most beneficial to those trying to rebuild their homes.
“Drywall, all that other sort of stuff, flooring — that kind of stuff is super helpful to those who need to fill in some of those gaps,” Guzman said. “I’ve got good friends trying to decide whether to borrow against their 401(k)s or to get a small business loan. Anything of that nature is useful.”
Supplies and gift cards are always helpful, particularly so people can buy what they need individually. But help with errands also is needed, said Connie Ratisseau, whose Friendswood home was flooded.
“Some have not been able to replace flooded vehicles yet,” she said. “Some need someone to shop for them or run to one of the box stores for what may have been your second or third trip that day.”
Knowledge is also a gift people can give. People who understand the ins and outs of recovery also are helpful, Santarelli said.
“Bankers and people who understand the process more are great,” Santarelli said. “We own a home, but we don’t necessarily know all the ins and outs.”
More than anything, Harvey victims need understanding, Santarelli said.
“So many of us folks are scatterbrained,” she said. “Patience is huge. We are forgetful and are juggling so many things that we need some patience while we get through this.”