Like so many others, our home in Beaumont, TX was flooded during Harvey. I have to say, I feel incredibly selfish making this fundraiser considering the number of people in the same or worse situation that we are in, but sometimes life just sucks and we have to swallow our pride and ask for help.
Context: I am a single mother of two and full time college student. I bought our home just before my second child was born in 2010 while I was still married to their father. Not long after we moved in... (series of life events which I won't go into here but have blogged about extensively on Patheos)... I became a single parent. I found childcare and got a job at a local grocery store bakery. I eventually had a mental health breakdown and lost my job but managed to pay my house off just before that (one of my proudest moments, truly). In light of the recent flooding, many have asked me about incurance and landlords, but the truth is I AM the landlord lol. I am the landlord and the plumber and the electrician and the carpenter and everything else and I don't have insurance. I applied for an insurance policy a while back but was told that I had to make a few repairs (i.e. there is some missing siding on one side) before they would issue the policy. Our home wasn't much to look at, but it was ours free and clear. I knew it had problems and would continue to have problems until I finish school and get a better job, but I never imagined it would just be destroyed in a matter of days. My life and my health have gone in so many different directions over the past few years and knowing that we at least have a home that's paid for, that at the very least, I didn't have to worry about my kids becoming homeless regardless of what else comes our way, has been my one constant. I am very fortunate that it's at least still standing and the water only flooded the downstairs portion with just a few leaks in the upstairs. As of this morning, we were able to use the neighbor's boat to get to the front door, the water has dropped below floor level, but the mold has made it to the top of the stair case already. I opened all the windows. The whole house smelled like sewage and death. I had thought the storm would pass and I could just clean it out, turn the breakers back on, and go back to living in the upstairs until I could get the downstairs fixed, but that is just not possible. I never imagined I would actually not have a home to go back to after the storm. I don't think any of us really did.
I am creating this fundraiser after several friends have suggested I do so. My home is appraised at $83,550 and my gross annual income, calculated on the assumption that I get a child support check every week, is approximately $8,500. I am currently using student loans to get by while pursuing a degree and learning to manage chronic health problems. I honestly don't know yet how much it will cost to save my house. Whatever I manage to raise will go towards gutting the downstairs, mold prevention, leak repair, replacing the floor, sheetrock, cabinets, whatever appliances were ruined, etc. I don't even care what it looks like, as long as my kids and I have a safe place to live. Thanks!
- JAMES LEATHEM
- John Levin
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