Returning home after Harvey

Published 3:49 pm Saturday, November 24, 2018

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


Two neighbors who have spent a lifetime together as friends, returned to their newly restored homes on Wednesday, just in time to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Lillie Jolivette and Peggy Williams were surprised with the outpouring of local organizations generosity as they moved back into their homes.

“Harvey really devastated our area,” Orange Councilmember Terrie Salter said. “I had several people call me, as I am sure the other council members received calls as well, of ‘My aunt is in the loft’, ‘My uncle is stuck in the attic.’ My heart goes out the city of Orange and the county.”

Salter also lost her home during the flood and has yet to return home.

Jolivette retold her story of the night of Harvey.

“I was on top of the table, scared,” Jolivette said. “It was me, my husband and our little dog, Chloe. We were there from about 2 a.m. until 7 a.m. when we left by boat.”

During the night, with the rising waters, Jolivette along with her neighbor next door lost everything in the flood.

“When you have no fork, no spoon left,” Salter said shaking her head. “It’s good to have family but staying with them gets old.”

Jolivette stayed with her daughter for the last 15 months while hoping to one day return to her house.

She added it took several organizations assistance to get her to this day.

“I am glad to have my neighbor back as well,” Jolivette said.

Peggy Williams said the two were together every day even while they were not next door to each other.

“It is good to be back together,” Williams said. “We also go to church together at Mt. Olive with Rev. Crockett.”

SETX Civilian Taskforce provided both neighbors with an entire Thanksgiving dinner and to ensure their pantries were full.

SETX Civilian Taskforce is a benevolent humanitarian organization that efficiently administers immediate and unmet needs to help improve the quality of life for the people that need it the most, according to its official website.

“We brought bed sheets, microwaves, silverware,” SETX Civilian Taskforce Executive Director Autumn Brown said. “As well as cleaning supplies and groceries to stock your pantry.”

Councilmembers Salter, Patrick Pullen, and his wife also gifted both ladies with a card.

“There were so many organizations which helped,” Salter said. “Orange Christian Services provided them with food and Salvation Army presented both ladies with $1,000 each and food for their pantries. I am happy and excited for them.”

Gerald Davis, with Shalom Builders of Texas, said the organization had been in the area for a year and a half.

Shalom Builders of Texas seeks to mobilize volunteers and contract with contractors when necessary to assist the uninsured, under-insured, disabled and elderly families recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey over the long-term time frame.  Shalom Builders of Texas seeks to bring God’s Shalom (wholeness) to areas impacted by the disaster.  Shalom Builders is a ministry of the Cornerstone Development Corporation who is seeking to address the tremendous recovery needs of the uninsured, under-insured, disabled and elderly families in the Greater Houston area, according to its official website.

The organization is working in Houston, Port Arthur, and Orange.

“Both of the homes were gutted down to the studs,” Davis said.

Davis pointed to two other homes on the same street which was next to be worked on.

“Even in this community there are more to work on,” Davis said. “Home Depot and Catholic Charities helped.”

“It is giving Orange a positive new outlook,” Mayor Pro-Tem Patrick Pullen said. “Nothing but to win by doing that.”