Memorial Hermann Uplifts the Community Through Hometown Healing
No amount of flood damage can ever convince
Joe Murphy that his home on Lufkin Street, located in the Harvey-ravaged
northeast Houston community of Kashmere Gardens, isn’t where he needs to be.
“We are just like family in this neighborhood and we pull
together when we all need help,” Murphy said.
So, when his home of the past 25 years was
overcome with waist-high water from Hurricane Harvey, the 64-year-old said he
“When Tropical Storm Allison came through
here in 2001 it wasn’t as bad as Harvey,” Murphy said. “This time around, I
lost everything. It was a nightmare. I thought stuff like that only happened on
TV. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.”
Murphy, like so many other Houstonians,
decided to wait out Harvey just as he did for Allison, but the slow movement of
Harvey and constant rains caused major widespread flooding. After witnessing
his couch and belongings float due to rising water within his home, Murphy knew
it was time to leave. At 6’8” and despite walking with a limp due to a
disability, Murphy sprang into action and crossed flood waters to help get
neighbors to higher ground. Murphy would eventually find shelter at a nearby
school before spending days in the George R. Brown Convention Center with
thousands of others whose homes were flooded.
Now, more than a year after Harvey hit
Houston, restoration for Murphy’s beloved home is in sight after facing a few
“When my parents were living in this house
and Allison came through, FEMA helped them. But, when Harvey happened and I
tried to get the government assistance, they turned me down because I didn’t
have flood insurance,” Murphy said. “I didn’t know anything about flood insurance
because I didn’t think something as bad as Harvey was going to happen.”
Murphy lived in his flood-damaged home for
four months. In the midst of his setbacks, he finally received good news during
an unexpected phone call.
“I was looking at this church program and I
said, ‘Lord, please send me some help.’ Then my phone rang and it was somebody
from Catholic Charities.”
Catholic Charities Houston helped place
Murphy in a temporary southwest Houston apartment while his home is being
renovated. The charity connected him with SBP AmeriCorps, a national disaster
relief organization that has been rebuilding northeast Houston homes with the
greatest need since August 2017.
In December 2018, Memorial Hermann built upon its pledge
to give back to the countless individuals across the region still in need of
assistance following the devastation of Harvey. Through a volunteer initiative
called Hometown Healing, nearly three dozen Memorial Hermann employees teamed
up with SBP AmeriCorps to sand walls, install window casing and restore windows
in Murphy’s home.
AmeriCorps employees work six days a week
to restore Houston homes and always welcome new volunteers, who they say have
been instrumental in helping get Houstonians such as Murphy back on their feet.
Murphy visited his home on the day Memorial
Hermann volunteers were present; it was his first time seeing the progress in
several weeks. It was during that time he learned restoration would likely be
complete by the New Year.
“I’m glad Memorial Hermann came and I’m
appreciative of any help I can get on my home,” he said. “I thank God for the
people who are helping me with my house, because if it wasn’t for them, I don’t
know where I’d be.”