HUMBLE, Texas—Homes of two families from Berean Baptist Church are slowly drying out and are almost ready for rebuilding following Hurricane Harvey. A week ago, debris was piled so high in the front yards that the view of both homes from the street was mostly obscured. “Last Saturday, church members removed all the leftover debris and put it into plastic bags and raked both yards,” Pastor Al Armitage says. “Now the delivery trucks can get in, and the yards look a whole lot better.”
The challenge has been getting overloaded contractors to submit bids to rebuild the homes. Armitage was able to get a building supply retailer to give him a quote based on a list of construction materials for the neighboring Watson and Wolbreuch homes, each having more than seven feet of water. Everything below the water line, except the slowly drying two-by-fours, needs to be replaced. Also, all appliances and the electrical were ruined. A contractor estimated the moisture levels in the interior wood framing to be 21–25 percent; less than 8 percent moisture level is needed to replace the insulation. The contractor provided a list of the quantities of building materials needed for the homes. The cost for the drywall, mud, tape, insulation, and screws came in at $11,500 for each house.
The good news is that help may be on the way! Two GARBC churches in Colorado are planning a joint work trip to Humble on Oct. 8 to rebuild the home interiors if the materials can be purchased and delivered in time. Regular Baptist Builders Club raised money for churches and church family members’ homes affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. Regular Baptist Builders Club is trying to get the materials on site when the work crew arrives. Because of rampant theft, the arrival of materials will have to be timed carefully, Armitage says. “It’s too dangerous to have the material delivered too soon because it gets stolen. The blessing is that delivery times for building materials have been cut recently from eight days to three.”
Right now the families are working to get new electrical wiring run through the homes in preparation for the work crews. Even after the walls are up, both families are going to need new doors, trim, appliances, and kitchen cabinets, which are not factored into the cost of the repairs. After the installation of the wiring, it will be time to paint, Armitage says. “Some of our church family have already volunteered, but I think we are going to need people to paint. My wife will work with them to do the trim.”
The situation of church member Joe Gage is less optimistic. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and contractors told him his roof was too badly damaged, so no one will work on it. It needs to be replaced, and he cannot afford that and does not have insurance. Armitage says he will have to keep a tarp over the roof, and he can’t put up any drywall, because if the tarp blows off, the drywall will be ruined.
Unlike Joe Gage and the Wolbreuch and Watson families, the Howards, another church family, have insurance that is covering most repairs and remediation. Floodwaters were 22 inches deep in the Howards’ home. Their insurance company paid for fans to dry the home and will cover the cost of the repairs, minus a $2,000 deductible. Still, the family lost a stove, a refrigerator, a dishwasher, and two freezers that insurance won’t replace. “They had a fully loaded freezer, and when the water came rushing in, it picked it up and took it out of the garage with the garage door closed!” Armitage says.
FEMA visited the Wolbreuchs for the first time a few days ago. Even though the floodwaters had receded by Sept. 1, FEMA is giving priority to uninsured homeowners. The Watsons have not heard when FEMA plans to visit them. “We are talking about 30,000 homes that were either destroyed or damaged,” Armitage says, “and these two homes are among the ones that are classified as damaged but not destroyed.”
- Regular Baptist Builders Club is mobilizing resources to help these church members recover from the hurricane disaster. If your church would like to partner in this effort, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or donate to Hurricane Harvey disaster relief (select from pull-down menu.) Excess funds, if any, will be used to help in disaster relief for churches and church families in similar situations.