Houston mother of 4 spends savings for hotel after home was destroyed

Monday, February 22, 2021
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Families across the Houston area are scrambling to find shelter after a catastrophic winter storm destroyed what they once knew as home.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Sunday that there will be more resources available statewide to help families impacted by the winter weather.

Abbott also said as of Sunday, 320 plumbers have renewed their licenses and multiple out-of-state plumbing companies will be coordinating with the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners (TSBPE) to discuss ways to quickly repair broken pipes for Texas families and their homes.

"We want to make sure state is stepping up to do everything we can to help people in their homes who have busted pipes," Abbott said. "One thing we are doing is bringing in more plumbers. Plumbers will be in high demand. We want to make sure we have a supply that can meet that demand. We urge everybody who may have broken pipes to call a plumber as soon as possible."

Monica Ware and her four children, ages two to 10, are one of those families in need of help.

They have very little clothes left. Ware said their beds and belongings are a total loss after broken pipes flooded their home Tuesday morning.

"The water came up to the first drawer of the dresser," Ware said as she walked through the damage Sunday afternoon. "You can feel the floor and the ceiling. Everything was wet and it still dripping Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday."

Ware said she spent all the savings her family had left on securing a hotel room for the week. She has set up a Gofundme to help get her children beds, clothes and food for the meantime.

"We used everything else that we had on the hotel this week," Ware said. "But it's like playing week-by-week. This week, I don't have to worry. But after that it's like, where are we going to go."

She said she applied for the FEMA Emergency Assistance program and she received a call Sunday afternoon that FEMA would notify her in 24 to 48 hours if she qualifies. By Sunday evening, Ware received a notification that FEMA granted her roughly $1,700 for personal property loss. She is a renter and does not have renter's insurance. Due to high demand, an inspector has not been able to come and inspect the home.

Ware also told ABC13 that FEMA is also trying to do inspections over the phone or via FaceTime and asking people to submit pictures and video of the damage. Abbott also urged Texans to document the damage and report it to the state.

"There's people that are out there that lost their loved ones, so I'm grateful we were not here," Ware said. "I'm grateful we had somewhere to go, and I'm just happy that we were able to get to a hotel and make it to the hotel."

ABC13 interviewed Sequoia Phillips, a single parent of two young boys whose home was destroyed due to broken pipes in every room of the house. After her story, Phillips received donations from Eyewitness viewers and received bottled water and food from local non-profit Crowd Source Rescue. However, Phillips will still have to find a place to stay. The home is not livable and it could take even longer than two months for the repairs.

"You know for anyone who is going through this I would just say keep your head up," Phillips said. "I know that it's hard. I know that it's hard to stay positive. Like for me, it's hard for me to get up and move, but you got to. You got to just keep up, and keep it going, and everything will eventually fall into place."

For a list of resources available to help families whose homes were damaged visit:

FEMA Emergency Aid Program

Residents in 77 counties across the state can now apply for assistance relief through FEMA. It also includes costs for uninsured property damage. First, registering online at disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585.

City of Houston

Report broken pipes or water main breaks in your neighborhood to the city of Houston.

Contact the City of Houston via the 311 or the app so Houston Public Works can isolate the leak.

3-1-1 is experiencing extremely high call volumes and high wait times. You can also report to 3-1-1 online.

Houston residents can visit the Houston Emergency website for updates on resources such as bottled water and food distributions.

American Red Cross Texas Gulf Coast Region

Disaster relief and recovery efforts available through the Red Cross as well as information on finding open shelters. Visit the website for more details on how to get help or volunteer.

Houston Food Bank

The Houston Food Bank is working with community partners to host food distribution events.

You can also visit the Houston Food Bank's winter storm page and enter your ZIP code on the map to find emergency pantries near you.

Crowd Source Rescue

The organization's primary goal is to help the vulnerable population in Houston get the resources or supplies they need. For more information, visit: Crowd Source Rescue

Texas Department of Emergency Management

The state department is collecting damage assessment data from the storm. Click here to report damage.

CLICK HERE for a full list of Houston's recovery winter storm resources.

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