[NOTE: Our long time friends Kevin and Jeri Austin need our help. Although we can't replace all of their losses, Thank you for helping them get reestablished. Here is their story. --Eddie & Alice Smith]
Kevin & Jeri Austin
In 1998, Kevin and I (Jeri) had finally scrimped and saved enough money to buy our first legitimate home, with a yard and everything.
Our eldest daughter Jessica was 9 years old; our younger daughter Jamie was 18 months. We took them with us to every house we looked at, and we looked at a lot of homes.
It was our first home and we planned on settling in for the long haul, so it was a really important decision we had to make, right? Our first seriously adult decision, so we were careful and had to get it right.
In every house we entered with our little burgeoning family, nothing felt right. Nothing fit. Until we came to the house in Mayde Creek.
The second we walked across the threshold, we knew we were home. Our home.
The thick foliage of established trees made welcoming shade in the 100° Texas summer. Jessica fell in love with the cypress tree in the back yard, which is perfect for climbing. As our family grew over the years, we all spent some time up in that tree. Our tree.
We became members of a local church and very quickly fell in love with the community. Our community.
About a year in, we were afforded the opportunity to purchase the little landscaping company of which Kevin had worked for years as a supervisor. We acquired a loan and dove right in. We grew the company and paid off the loan. We established the office in our home and became our own bosses.
Things were looking up. Life was truly good. When Jamie was 8 years old, and Jessica 16, we were excited to tell them news of a baby brother. A big fat beautiful boy we named Jackson. Now we were complete. Our little family.
We loved our house and took immense joy in doing all the things fun and necessary to build, make and keep our house a home. Our house. Our home.
Our home has always been our safe place and a refuge to many others. Always. When people came to our home, they ate and quenched their thirst.
When people came to our home, they laughed and played; we sang and danced. When people came to our home, they rested and they slept. Always.
Jeri loves to cheer up others.
Now... our home is gone.
Hurricane Harvey devastated our city.
Jeri now picking up the pieces of their lives after Harvey
Our home fell victim to rising flood waters and we were compelled to evacuate and abandon our home, lest we lost our lives. The waters rose fiercely, and so fast, we had to be rescued by brave strangers.
Our house sat in 4' of contaminated flood water for seven days before the swamp drained off.
[NOTE: There are no photos of water inside the house because we were unable to enter the house until the water receded.]
It stood for three days before the streets drained enough for us to even go in and assess the damage.
There was a very small window of opportunity, once the water drained away, for salvage efforts. To our sickening dismay, we found what few things the flood water hadn't devoured, and the mold was already claiming.
Now our home, our lives, the very essence of who we are, is piled in great mountainous heaps of rotting debris in our front yard; brought there by selfless, loving strangers and friends, who both cried with us at our loss and yet rejoiced with us at our lives spared and intact... and still able to cry.
This is the only home our two youngest children have ever known. The home our oldest helped us choose.
The home we planned to grow old in, and spoil our grandchildren in. Our legacy.
Throughout this entire catastrophe, we have been reminded again and again how small and tiny we are, and just how great God is. We have been amazed, taken aback, blessed, truly blessed... and humbled.
The outpouring of brotherly-sisterly love and unselfish community spirit has been a healing balm to an otherwise raw and wounded spirit.
Angels are everywhere, and God's grace abounds.
Thank you, truly.
- Jim Morrison
- Ashlee Smith Morris
- Nona Horton Mooers
- Randi LaBusch