ORANGE COUNTY, Texas – A white truck slowly drives down a narrow dead-end street towards a demolished house. The truck is pulling a 30-foot gift that means new hope for a couple who were devastated during Hurricane Harvey.
In the front yard, amidst the piles of debris and rubble where Adam and Joyce Romero’s house once stood, Charlie Diggs stands with them, eagerly awaiting the truck’s arrival.
“My Facebook friends,” Diggs says as the truck pulls to a stop. “I bought y’all a home to live in.”
The two turn to see a 30-foot camper trailer parked in the street, their first look at their new home. Joyce hugs Diggs before she turns and hugs her husband.
Joyce is speechless. “I appreciate it,” Adam says.
Diggs later handed them a $1,000 check to help with their recovery efforts.
Adam and Joyce, 90 and 71 years old, respectively, lost everything when Hurricane Harvey flooded their home. Nearly five feet of floodwaters sat stagnant inside for a week, ruining everything it touched: their beds, clothes, the custom-made kitchen cabinets Adam built and Joyce’s Elvis Presley memorabilia.
“If I wasn’t so old, it wouldn’t be so bad,” Adam tells Diggs. “But I don’t have nothing anymore.”
Adam offers to pay Diggs back, but Diggs is having none of it.
“The only payment I want is for you to play me some accordion,” he says.
Diggs heard of the Romeros on Facebook after our original story. They’ve been married for 22 years. Both of them suffer from COPD, a condition that affects a person's breathing. Joyce is a breast cancer survivor and Adam suffers from Alzheimer's. They wonder how they’re going to rebuild after all they’ve lost. They live on a fixed income and after bills and doctor’s visits are paid for, there’s little left for other expenses, certainly not enough to rebuild and furnish a new home. Even though there’s nothing but heartache left on their land, the two make the 73-mile journey from their daughter’s home in Louisiana, where they’ve been staying since the hurricane, back to their property nearly every day. It helps relax Adam, Joyce says.
Diggs said he was touched by their story and felt compelled to help, especially because Adam is a fellow musician. Diggs, who’s from Cypress, runs a music promotion company.
Diggs put a call out on Facebook and helped raise $3,000 through a GoFundMe page. He used that money to buy the trailer that he and his friend, John Mercer, delivered.
Tears fill Adam’s eyes as he plays his accordion.
“I appreciate you doing it. I appreciate your help. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it,” he says, his voice cracking.
The trailer is a small step to rebuilding, but it’s progress nonetheless.
Adam is eager to return home on a full-time basis. But there’s still work to be done before they can return for good.
They need the piles of debris cleared in their front and back yards—piles filled with the contents from within their home and their home itself. They need an electric pole placed near the trailer to feed electricity inside and a breaker box installed. They need their water well fixed so they can have fresh water.
And that’s just the beginning. They also need clothes and sheets, pots and pans, plates and bowls and glasses—all the necessities that are taken for granted until you’re left with nothing.
“It’s just like starting all over again,” Joyce says.
They still haven’t heard from FEMA regarding if they’ll receive any money to rebuild. But a trailer is progress. A trailer means home.
Adam now sits at the table inside the trailer with his “Colorado Kool-Aids”—what he calls his non-alcoholic beer—as Joyce tidies up, making the place feel more like home.
“All I need is my house,” Adam says. “Long as I’ve got my house back, I have nothing to worry about anymore.”