HOUSTON — Four years ago today, Hurricane Harvey dumped more than 50 inches of rain over Houston-area homes. The roof on Franklin Brown’s northeast Houston home crumbled under the weight of so much rain.
The retired handyman told KHOU 11 News that after the storm he reached out to government agencies and organizations in an attempt to repair the damage.
Four years later, Brown is still waiting for help.
“Harvey was the worst,” said 85-year old Brown. “It was scary, really. Especially when your house is falling in on you.”
Without homeowner's insurance, Brown prayed on of the many dozens of non-profit or volunteer organizations that descended on Houston in the days after the 2017 hurricane would help. He applied for FEMA aid and said he received a $150 check from the federal emergency agency.
“I applied with the city, but the city never came out.”
Brown grew frustrated by the lack of attention and assistance he received.
“Said they had the money to help people, but they didn’t help me,” he said while sitting in the front yard of his Trinity/Houston Gardens home. “So I just tried my best to hang on to what I had.”
What he held onto was a single-story, wood-framed house. Large holes in the ceiling allow an easy view of the roof. Smells of mold, mildew, dirt and rotting wood fill the corner lot property. The electrical wiring is not working, so power is cut off to the home. Debris from the roof caving in blankets piles of Brown’s belongings.
It’s a chaotic, unhygienic mess that Franklin Brown has lived in for all but the last four months of the last four years.
“It is heartbreaking. This is heartbreaking,” said Amanda Edwards as she toured the home with Brown. Edwards is the founder of Be the Solution, a community empowerment organization that focuses on helping senior citizens.
“Some neighbors, some family members weren’t even aware of these circumstances because there’s pride there,” said Edwards. “There’s embarrassment there.”
Be The Solution is partnering with SBP USA, a disaster recovery organization that works to rebuild homes. The non-profit organization launched in the days after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Other Ways to Register to Volunteers with SBP USA:
Edwards says Be The Solution is, “calling upon Houstonians to show their can-do volunteer spirit to help Mr. Brown rebuild his home.”
SBP will lead the rebuild, it just needs volunteers to supply the manpower. “Our goal is to have him back before Christmas,” said Chad Johnson with SBP. “And, as many volunteers as we can get, it only helps speed the process up.”
Demolition starts Monday. You can sign up to help here.
“Bring your skills, bring your energy and most importantly, bring your heart,” said Edwards. Because while Franklin Brown does have hope, after four years of feeling forgotten, “I had so many promises until now,” said Brown.
“I gotta really get to feel it. That they’re going to do something with it. For real. That it’s not just a dream.”