Days after Hurricane Harvey, David Weekley joined forces and funds with HomeAid Houston and the Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA), to develop an initiative to help homeowners with limited means, restore their flooded homes. During those early days, BuildAid Houston was formed with a $1M contribution from the David Weekley Family Foundation and a $5.5M grant from the Greater Houston Community Foundation (GHCF).
Homeowners must meet a specific criteria to be qualified for assistance. This includes homes that are construction ready with a mold certificate, homes that have no deferred maintenance such as prior foundation or framing problems, low to moderate income homeowners, homes valued at plus or minus $150,000 depending on the homeowner's circumstances, and homes not in the 100 year flood plain. Pre-qualified homeowners are matched with a professional builder who is on loan from Houston area homebuilding companies. These builders work with the homeowner from start to finish during the restoration process.
On the night of August 26, 2017, Crystal Wicks, a homeowner in Northeast Houston watched the Mayweather/McGregor fight that was billed the "Fight of all Time". Later that night, what would eventually be labeled the "Storm of a Lifetime", 51 inches of rain fell throughout the Houston area. Wicks watched as 5 feet of water quickly rose inside her home. She dialed 911 and getting no answer, fled outside where she became stranded on top of her Jeep. There she began the fight for her life, as debris swirled around her in the dark.
Eventually, Crystal's neighbors heard her cries. They threw her a rope and she jumped in and began both swimming and trying to run toward them, going under several times before she reached higher ground.
Crystal returned to her home four days later after the water had receded. The door was blocked by furniture, her refrigerator was on its back, the bed was blocking her bedroom door and wet clothes were everywhere. Six feet of water had destroyed everything.
FEMA worked with Crystal to provide funding for reconstruction. What would unfortunately be pervasive after Harvey, her contractor did not have the skills to provide quality restoration and eventually took her FEMA funds and did not complete the job.
Crystal was fortunate to hear from Bayou City Relief and they connected her with BuildAid Houston. The BuildAid team responded immediately by getting Crystal qualified for assistance and she was matched with a BuildAid builder. The work on her home is nearing completion and Crystal will soon be able to move back in. "I cannot thank the BuildAid leadership and builders enough for giving me my life back," said Wicks. "They have been professionals from day one and show they truly care."
The BuildAid builders are GHBA members who have, in some cases left other jobs to work as a coalition to help restore homes and rebuild lives. BuildAid's current builder partners are David Weekley Homes, Partners in Building, Chesmar Homes, Sandcastle Homes and Colina Homes. The entire team is led by Chris Yuko with the David Weekley Family Foundation and Director of BuildAid and James Boone, BuildAid Construction Manager.
"Stories like Crystal's resonate with our entire team," said James Boone. "From the David Weekley Family Foundation, GHBA and HomeAid, to the Greater Houston Community Foundation, we are all in this together, working to bring hope to those affected by Harvey. "We feel blessed to be part of this amazing initiative."