Five weeks after Hurricane Harvey brought floodwaters almost to the second story of her house, Kelly Gould still gets emotional when she remembers how she and her six children held on to trees to avoid being swept away by Cypress Creek.
“I told them if you can make it through this, we can do anything,” she said.
On Saturday, the single mother took a break from hauling debris from her family’s gutted house in Bammel Forest to talk about her Harvey experience with Spring ISD volunteers, who checked on the family to determine what assistance they need, especially so the kids don’t miss school.
“It’s an operation of love,” said Pondersoa Elementary Principal Shanna Swearingen. “It’s not just about attendance, it’s not just about Harvey. It’s about sharing our support.”
Across the district on Saturday, hundreds of Spring ISD volunteers, including Trustees Deborah Jensen, Justine Durant and Donald Davis, fanned out across the area to knock on doors and offer assistance to families, many of whom lost everything in the storm.
At Ponderosa Elementary, some 200 of 736 students were affected by flooding, including 64 now classified as homeless because they live in hotels or with relatives and friends. District numbers show nearly 550 homeless students, a number that has steadily grown since the storm.
“We know so many of our community members were affected,” said Spring ISD Superintendent Dr. Rodney Watson. “Our families need us and we’re here knocking on doors to let them know there’s help.”
Outside of the Gould family’s house, Spring ISD Board President Deborah Jensen got on the phone Saturday to locate a truck that could deliver a refrigerator. The family, she learned, had been spending a lot of money eating out.
“You just see all this devastation, but there is so much resilience,” said Jensen, adding that the spare fridge from her home was an easy way to help.
District volunteers spent the morning addressing the needs of families they visited and directing many to the Spring ISD Learning Center to pick up clothing, toiletries and food donated by community partners, including Kroger, HEB, the Houston Cy-Fair Lions, and the Calvary Chapel.
Chrishonda Mosely was picking out socks, toys and other items for her three-year-old as her 13-year-old son Matthew, an eighth-grader at Roberson Middle School, held the shopping bags. She said the family lost about “half of everything” in the floods and is living in a motel off Interstate 45 until they can find something better.
For Mosely, the flood was a reminder of what brought her to Houston in 2005 — Hurricane Katrina. “This is our second time going through this,” she said.
Throughout the day, district volunteers tried to fill in the gaps of need as they heard harrowing stories from the storm and its aftermath, including long waits for insurance adjusters, housing contractors and debris removal. Some problems were easier to address than others. Ponderosa third-grader Irwing Romero, Jr. told volunteers all he needed was cookies.
In Bammel Forest, Gould said the visit by school district volunteers provided more than just a refrigerator or other necessities. “It lets us know we’re not forgotten,” she said. “To have somebody who cares is phenomenal.”