A series of storms brought record rainfall to southeast Texas this spring, triggering widespread flooding in Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city. With storms dropping as much as 20 inches of rain in some places, floodwaters displaced thousands of residents. While she was in Louisiana caring for her recently deceased mother’s home, Debbie Darby got word that her own house in Houston’s Bear Creek community was under water. Darby was overwhelmed. Shortly after she returned home, Lowe’s employee volunteers joined Lowe’s national disaster relief partner, the First Response Team of America, to give Darby some help. In appreciation, she wrote the following letter to the team of volunteers.
One week ago, if you had asked me if I knew the meaning of “humanity,” I would have replied that I did. But now I realize that I did not even remotely know the meaning of that word. Over the last week, the true meaning of “humanity” began to change forever in my mind.
On Monday morning, while I was one state away to go through things from my mother’s house, I awoke to find early morning missed calls from my next-door neighbors. My house and cars were under water. The news was only made worse by the fact that my home was not covered by flood insurance, and I only had full coverage on one car.
Finally able to return to my home on Tuesday night, I drove into my neighborhood to scenes that I never imagined I would see.
Unlocking the front door and stepping into my house, I started to break down as I saw the effects of the water damage to my home. Two friends, who had started the cleanup process, showed up to comfort and support me. I worked all day Wednesday to do what I could, accompanied by my relentless two friends, and went to bed exhausted with so much more that direly needed to be done to prevent further damage. Knowing there was no possible way myself and my friends could accomplish that work alone, I said a prayer asking for help.
The very next morning, my doorbell rang and as I opened the door, I saw a lovely young lady with a smile on her face. She introduced herself as Nga and explained that she worked for a nonprofit organization called the First Response Team of America. She said she noticed that, although my neighbors had piles of sheetrock and furniture and debris in front of their houses, I did not, and wanted to know if I needed any help.
A daunting task that would have taken my friends and I an indefinite period of time took only one amazing and incredible day.—Debbie Darby, Houston homeowner
I began to cry and told her that I did, in fact, need help urgently. She explained that the First Response Team of America was able to help people in emergency areas because of the support from Dodge trucks, Lowe’s and The Weather Channel. She said she and the First Response Team of America were going to put together volunteers to try to preserve my home and make it safe until repairs could be made.
The First Response Team and Lowe’s amazingly put together a crew of 20 volunteers, Lowe’s employees dressed in Lowe’s attire, name badges and all with smiles on their faces, who all showed up early on Saturday. Working side by side, Nga and the volunteers were able to pull all of the damaged sheetrock, flooring and cabinetry out of my house in a few hours.
Lowe’s provided supplies, such as much-needed plastic containers, and expert knowledge to assess the necessary demo work and to provide the personnel and skills necessary to make my home safe. A daunting task that would have taken my friends and I an indefinite period of time took only one amazing and incredible day.
Although the road to recovery is still long, as I do not have insurance to make repairs, I am extremely thankful for the First Response Team of America, their wonderful giving sponsors and the amazing people from Lowe’s who provided supplies and volunteered their precious time to come to my aid.
Words cannot express the gratitude I feel for the First Response Team of America, their wonderful sponsors, as well the wonderful Lowe’s volunteers who came to my rescue when I had no idea where to turn. It will be some time before I walk into a Lowe’s store without getting emotional as I see their logo and the smiling personnel with their name badges, reflecting on the memories of their extreme generosity. My faith in the kindness and extreme unselfish thoughtfulness of people and the true generosity of the businesses involved with the First Response Team of America has changed my outlook on life and humanity forever.
Thank you to each and every single person who was involved in the process from the very bottom of my heart. As I said previously, words cannot express…