Two families who lost houses in Huricane Harvey nearly two years ago get new homes

May 26, 2019 | The News of San Patricio, Paul Gonzales

TAFT – On Wednesday morning, Juan and Ricardo Martinez, brothers from Taft, got one well deserved welcoming home gift: an actual home.

The brothers’ home was severely damaged during Hurricane Harvey and they have been basically sleeping outside since. They would ride their bicycles to a nearby gas station every day to use a restroom and clean up.

Through the Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group (CBDRG), the brothers now have a brand new manufactured home.

For two years, Taft Housing Authority Director Donnie Riojas has been working on getting the paperwork completed and the work started on the home with many more homes coming in the near future.

“We’re excited and so are our families,” Riojas said. “We know there’s four different steps in the process and we have a lot of families that are already on their fourth step and about to receive theirs.

“We’re just glad that we have this home here in town and it’s for such deserving individuals.”

CBDRG Executive Director Warren Phipps said that all of their 52 partners’ caseworkers assist any and all clients when it comes to the GLO application because it is a complicated process.

“There’s 1,300 applicants across the Coastal Bend and 103 have been approved for new homes,” Phipps added. “We try to help as many applicants through the process that we can.”

In fact, earlier this month the CBDRG  finished rebuilding Sinton resident Trinidad Saldana and her family’s home and they were able to move in on May 15.

Saldana and her late husband moved to their property in 1983. When their original home was destroyed by Hurricane Harvey, Saldana left to live with one of her daughters in Woodsboro and has been staying there ever since.

Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid presented Saldana’s daughter with information about CBDRG and the group worked hard to get her back in a safe, secure and sanitary home.

Saldana said at her ceremony, “I can’t thank this group of people enough. God has truly blessed them with abilities and me with a new home to live in.”

Along with the CBDRG, H-E-B, Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, Christian Public Services, Coastal Bend Food Bank, Salvation Army and Samaritan’s Purse all helped in giving these families their homes back, which was no small task.

“I am honored to be surrounded by a lot of talented people and partnered organizations to do what we’re about to do today,” Phipps said. “It took a collective group for us to do that.

“It’s been a long process, but that’s what we do. We’re local. I’m from Portland, all my employees are from the Coastal Bend.

“We’re not going anywhere.”