BRAZORIA COUNTY, Texas - More than 100 teens from around the country are rebuilding Harvey-damaged homes in Brazoria County, working long days outside during the hottest week of the year.
The volunteers came from several states, including generally cooler, less humid places like Colorado and New York. While they say handling the heat’s been a bit of an adjustment, they don’t regret making the trip.
During the hottest part of the year, inside a Brookside Village house far from home, instead of spending summer break chilling, several teens were breaking a sweat, putting up insulation and drywall to speed up the homeowner’s move-in after Harvey.
“We really just wanted to help,” said Kathryn Ploss, a volunteer from upstate New York. “It’s awesome. Everyone’s been so welcoming to us. We’ve had a great experience so far.”
Ploss says this trip is her first time in Texas.
“This is actually the farthest I’ve ever been from home,” said Ploss, a recent high school graduate. “It’s hot and it’s humid, but it’s really cool.”
Ploss and other volunteers with Reach Mission Trips have been staying cool with plenty of water, wet rags, rotating fans around the build site and enjoying popsicles courtesy of St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Pearland, which is a partner on the Harvey Rebuilding Mission Experience.
“I wish we had some cooler weather, but they seem to not let it phase them,” said Paul Richardson, Executive Director of Reach Mission Trips.
Richardson says the teens stop working by 3 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. each afternoon before cooling off and staying the night inside Pearland ISD’s PACE Center.
“The A/C in the school feels phenomenal when you walk in after working,” Richardson said.
Richardson says his organization has brought in a shower truck and hired Pearland ISD’s kitchen staff and custodial staff to help.
The volunteers also use the PACE Center to eat, bond, worship and reflect on why they’re spending their money and their time to spend a week alongside homeowner Claudia Martinez and her husband.
“It’s been very hard,” said Martinez, who did not have flood insurance and says FEMA and Red Cross recovery dollars have only gone so far. “I’m very thankful for everything, very thankful for…them being here, coming out from out of town and helping us out.”
Martinez, who has been living in an apartment with her husband and three young daughters since Harvey, says she’s also excited her family’s house of six years is one step closer to becoming home again.
Reach Mission Trips volunteers are also repairing homes in Alvin, Rosharon and Pearland. They’ll finish work on Friday and return home on Saturday.