When Carra Phillips – a brand-new teacher at Eickenroht Elementary School who previously worked in the district’s human resources department – went to her mom’s house to ride out the storm with family, she had no idea her own apartment would flood while she was gone, or that she would face the loss of her furniture, clothing and family photographs.
“The lake in front of the apartments overflowed and kind of swooped through the complex,” Phillips said. “I can’t stay there right now, so I’m at my mom’s house.”
Phillips is one of many Spring ISD staff members and students affected by Hurricane Harvey, and she was among the first to be awarded a grant through the Spring ISD Education Foundation’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. The relief fund started collecting donations before the storm had even ended, with an initial goal of raising $50,000 to assist district staff and students’ families with small checks – up to $250 apiece – to help ease the burden during a long and difficult recovery process. As of Sept. 12, the foundation had collected nearly $20,000, and had committed to its own additional donation of $20,000 – for a total of nearly $40,000 so far.
“The Spring community has a fantastic school superintendent,” Vice President of Development Bruce Bentley said during an event on Monday. “He called on us to participate and to try to help out these families. We take great pleasure in doing this, whether it’s scholarships for students, grants for teachers or special projects like this.”
If repairs go as planned, Phillips hopes to be back in her apartment in a few weeks, but, for now, she’s grateful for the help and trying to focus on the positives. “I’m glad my son and I are safe,” Phillips said. “That’s the most important thing to me.”
Kiara Joubert, a structured learning paraprofessional at Meyer Elementary School, wasn’t so lucky. Her own home was declared uninhabitable, and she’s not sure where she’ll end up or when everything will be resolved.
Joubert recalled the rush to get out of her house – less than a day after the storm’s arrival – and the strangeness of leaving her neighborhood in a boat. “The water came quickly, that’s all I can say. The water came quickly.”
For now, she’s staying with family and considering her options. “It’s kind of a waiting game,” she said. “I really do appreciate the grant check. I really appreciate all the help. I’m just ready for everything to go back to normal now, just ready for something normal.”
Other affected staff members know where they’re eventually headed, but not when, like Terrence Boggs, who just joined Spring ISD as a fifth-grade math and science teacher at Meyer Elementary School. Boggs, whose Kingwood apartment flooded to within a foot of the ceiling, should eventually be able to return, but not before months of cleanup and construction work at the complex.
“It’s been an interesting ride, literally,” said Boggs, who – after wading through high water several times trying to save a few essentials – eventually had to catch a rowboat out of the neighborhood. “The water just kept rising. The only thing I saved was my teaching stuff.”
Boggs and his wife are staying in a temporary apartment in Conroe. The foundation’s grant check will help as they replace lost clothes, furniture and other items, and Boggs is taking a philosophical approach to post-Harvey recovery and the loss of nearly everything he owned.
“The bad thing about losing everything in a flood is, you lose everything,” Boggs said. “The good news is, you get to start over. That’s the way I look at it. If you look at it that way, it’s a chance to restore everything. It’s renewal, not just destruction.”