The Gould Family
One Year Since Harvey – The Gould Family
One Year Since Harvey – Adrienne Futch
Aug. 27, 2018 – Spring resident Kelly Gould tried to keep a brave face as she and her children clung to trees and struggled against the fast-moving water that had already driven them from their home. If anyone lost their grip before the rescue boats arrived, they could be swept away. Gould remembers telling her six frightened children, “If we can make it through this, we can make it through anything.”
Now, on the anniversary of Hurricane Harvey’s devastating landfall and passage across the Houston area, Gould and many others like her – those who struggled and survived – find themselves still picking up the pieces, still adapting to life after Harvey, and still finding the strength to hold on.
“That’s the reality of this thing,” Gould said, “that we are still here, and we are all together.”
The Gould family recently moved back into their home, which once again has walls, and a floor. Months of repair work remain, but the kitchen and dining room are nearly done, with Gould doing much of the work herself.
“We live it every day, we still live it every day,” said Gould, whose own one-year Harvey anniversary underscores the ongoing challenges for so many in the Spring ISD community.
Many area residents expected not much more than an inconvenience when Harvey approached the Texas coast, but when the weakened storm stalled over Houston, it dumped up to 50 inches of rain across areas of Spring. The district’s high schools were transformed into temporary homeless shelters, and additional assistance would continue throughout the year as families struggled to rebuild in Harvey’s wake.
After the storm, nearby Ponderosa Elementary School organized volunteers and supplies to ease the burden as the Gould family and hundreds of others built mountains of debris out of once-treasured belongings. Gould said that she takes comfort in the support she and her children have gotten from the principal and teachers at Ponderosa who repeatedly came to help out.
“It was comforting because they knew us, they knew who we were,” Gould said. “And they went house to house in the neighborhood. … it made a very powerful statement to us.”
Spring ISD Superintendent Dr. Rodney Watson said that the district’s efforts to create shelters, organize volunteers and distribute relief supplies was just the start of the recovery process. “We are always inviting our community to help us in our mission to educate our children, so when our community members needed our help, we immediately began taking actions to help them. We knew we were all in this together for the long haul,” said Watson.
When Harvey was making its way toward the Houston area, Spring ISD teacher Adrienne Futch of Ponderosa Elementary had figured that her neighborhood street would flood, so she and her family had made arrangements to stay with nearby friends.
She never expected her house would take on two feet of water, leaving her and her family displaced. In the months that followed, Futch got a lot of help from staff at Ponderosa as she and her husband began the process of restoring their home. She spent nights and weekends working on the house, but managed not to miss a day in her classroom. In between everything, she even joined one of the Ponderosa volunteer work crews that went to help out Kelly Gould and her children. Though she and her family are now back in their home, emotions about Harvey are still quick to surface.
“It’s kind of unreal. I don’t even know what to say other than it brings a tear to my eye but also happiness because I am officially a survivor. And that’s a really cool thought,” said Futch.
For Dr. Jennifer Cobb, assistant superintendent for research, accountability and testing at Spring ISD, the year has been a difficult one as well. She reflected on the intense uncertainty after her family’s home went underwater – destroying most of their belongings – and praised the quick support from the Spring ISD Education Foundation, which partnered with the district to distribute financial aid.
Cobb and her family are hoping to return to their home by Thanksgiving, but returning to their old lives may not be possible. “There is a new normal,” she said. “My whole family has been impacted by it. We are very excited about returning home, but you have to realize that for us, a year has passed. … The children have grown older, and there is now PTSD when it rains. Nobody’s the same.”
After a year in which Hurricane Harvey made so many everyday things more difficult for so many, good fortune paid an overdue visit to Ponderosa Elementary last week.
Futch, who didn’t let the storm’s aftermath keep her out of the classroom, learned that she had won $3,000, the grand prize from a staff incentive drawing in Spring ISD for teachers who had perfect attendance during the 2017-18 school year. She said the decision to keep coming to school every day, despite all the turmoil Harvey caused in her life, was easy when she looked at the faces in her classroom.
“It was knowing that at least six to eight of my kids are in the same position that I’m in,” said Futch, adding, “They needed me as much as I needed them.”