Stories of Change

Veronica stands in front of her home while her roof was being repaired. CWS provided a grant to West Street Recovery that was used for the roof repair. Photo courtesy West Street Recovery.

A year after Tropical Storm Imelda, a new roof means peace of mind in Houston

I felt scared that I was going to lose everything. And when water started to come into one of my daughters’ rooms from both the roof and the floor, she started to cry.

I then began to fear for my family’s life. I had to run to other parts of the house to check other areas where the water was coming in. I felt like I was fighting for my life.

The saddest part was that I couldn’t do anything about the water coming in.

When Tropical Storm Imelda hit Houston in September 2019, every room of Veronica Medina’s house got 18-24 inches of water damage. Just two years after surviving the destruction of Hurricane Harvey, she was facing new devastation. “The living room carpet was all soaked and had to be changed,” she says. “In my kitchen the cabinets had to be changed, and the oven is still broken. The roof was damaged as well and was leaking consistently from one room every time a strong rain would come. There was also an emotional toll that will forever live with me.”

School had started a couple of weeks earlier, but Veronica’s children found themselves skipping school to help repair the damage. “I didn’t have a dry spot in the house to keep my family,” she recalls. She couldn’t cook. Some of the family’s mattresses were soaked and could no longer be used. “Imelda also destroyed the business where my husband was working,” Veronica notes. The business closed as a result of the damage it sustained in the storm.

Veronica is a member of West Street Recovery, which she joined after a meeting at her children’s school regarding the rights of undocumented community members following Hurricane Harvey. West Street Recovery works with low income families who are living with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Tropical Storm Imelda and now COVID-19. They’ve teamed up with 300 families like Veronica’s since 2017. They are also a local partner in the CWS disaster response program in the United States.

CWS provided a grant to West Street Recovery that they are using to help Veronica finally repair her roof. It’s the latest component of the support that they’ve provided since Imelda hit. “West Street helped me with repairs directly after Imelda, with donations of rebuilding materials for my bathroom and [during] COVID-19. They included us when they were giving direct aid to undocumented citizens and they have helped me with materials. Most importantly, they have provided me with a sense of family that has been very hard for me to find in this country,” Veronica says.

“Through CWS, WSR is able to provide help to immigrant families struggling to recover from Imelda,” says Ben Hirsch, Co-Director of Organizing, Research and Development at West Street Recovery. “This helps us create dignified housing for families that have, due to legal and cultural barriers, been unable to access assistance from FEMA or major charities.”

Veronica’s new roof means more peace of mind for her family. “Now I am no longer worried about water entering my house through the roof. I am content and very grateful for this,” she says.

And that’s good news for the CWS family, which just got a little bigger. When we asked Veronica what she would say to the people who support West Street–that’s you!–she said, “that they are angels and it makes me believe that there are a lot of good people in the world still. West Street Recovery feels like family, and I have never found support like I find from West Street. So anyone that supports West Street Recovery I consider family as well.”

The feeling is mutual, Veronica. Welcome to the CWS family!