JACINTO CITY, Texas - An anonymous donor has offered to pay the remodeling costs for 10 first responders who lost their homes during Hurricane Harvey.
Eligible recipients must work in Harris County Precinct 3, do not have flood insurance, own a home and suffered damaged during the storm.
Four weeks ago, some families in Jacinto City were trapped inside their homes as floodwaters rose outside.
Those waiting to be rescued included Leilani Castillo, 1, her pregnant mom, Layla, and her dad, Don, who said he can still hear his wife’s desperate call for help.
“I can hear the tone in her voice,” he said. “She’s mumbling. She’s scared. I feel helpless. I felt like I was deserting her in a form.” said Don, a Jacinto City Police officer.
Work kept him away from home during Harvey. He rescued more people than he could count. However, Officer Castillo could not reach his family; a stranger in a boat did, though.
No one saved the Castillo’s first home. They moved in seven months ago. Water ruined everything, Castillo said.
Without insurance, at least $20,000 worth of repairs and long waits for assistance from various agencies, all seemed lost, Castillo said. Then, his phone rang.
“In my mind, I’m like 'This is too good to be true,'” he said laughing. “I usually say if it’s too good to be true, it doesn’t happen.”
Through Lucia Bates and former constable Ken Jones, the donor who will not share his name publicly, offered to pay renovation costs for 10 first responders.
They identified four and are having a hard time finding others, Bates said.
“The response was 'we’re doing okay,'” Bates said. “'We do have insurance and so we are able to sustain ourselves.' But we know that there are some that don’t - like Mr. Castillo."
In his case, the donor gave Texas Largaux Remodelers a blank check with instructions to give Officer Castillo whatever he wants.
“This is the first time that I’ve seen that,” said Jose Mata, who works for Texas Largaux. “We have 14 years in the business (and) this is the first time.”
There is a lot left to do at Officer Castillo’s home. However, he no longer feels helpless. He feels loved.
“We’re eternally grateful,” Castillo said. “It’s a very overwhelming thing.”
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