Corby Lee stands in the gutted hallway of his home which flooded during Harvey.

Corby Lee stands in the gutted hallway of his home which flooded during Harvey.

With Hurricane Harvey two months in the past, many students have returned to their routines. However, three Lamar students are still dealing with the aftermath of the storm.

“It has been stressful with a capital ‘S,’” Odalys Terrazas, Port Arthur freshman, said. “My family and I were left with no house, no vehicles, and more than half of our belongings were ruined. It has been devastating.”

Terrazas said her family received no help from the Red Cross, and her immediate family had to turn to their extended family for aid while they rebuild their house.

“At the moment, our uncle is allowing us to stay at his house,” she said. “Truly, that is about all the support we have now.”

Between juggling school, working and reconstruction, Terrazas said she feels her class work has been affected.

“The first few weeks of school I did not have any type of internet connection, so I was not able to start that first week of school when our classes started online,” she said. “Plus, we were financially limited and, as a result, I struggled to get the books I needed for my classes. Also, we were struggling to get a permanent vehicle to get to school.”

However, Terrazas and her family said that they have achieved some type of normalcy.

“We are expecting to have our house reconstructed in the near future,” she said. “Maybe, in a month or so. That is what the timeframe is looking like because my family and I are the only ones working on it.”

Although Terrazas is aiming for a normal life, she said that it will take some time.

“Personally, this feels like a big setback,” she said. “Honestly, this situation will suck for a while. Nevertheless, it will get better.”

Alston Jones, Vidor freshman, shares a similar experience.

“Me and my family lost everything,” he said. “We got eight feet of water in our house. We lost five vehicles and all of our personal items.”

Jones said he feels that his family has handled the adversity well.

“We did not receive help from FEMA or Red Cross, however, that is fine,” he said. “Right now, my family is living in a travel-trailer. I am staying on campus, so we are doing well. It may take up to nine months to rebuild our house, but that’s no problem.”

His positive outlook is the result of his family being prepared for Harvey, Jones said.

“Prior to the storm, we had flood insurance,” he said. “My family and I have always thought, ‘Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.’ Of course, no one wants to think about such extremes, but it really helped out this time around.”

Jones said he has not let Harvey affect his performance at school.

“I am still putting in the same amount of effort I would have if we started without problems,” he said. “Classes have been going good. My only concern was that school was not going to start on time, but here we are, more than three months in. That is all that matters. Honestly, I am quite satisfied how we have progressed.”

Now, Jones and his family play the waiting game.

“For a while, they were not allowing us to rebuild our house in the area where it originally was, since it was in a flood zone,” he said. “It took some time to finally get the approval, but we received it. Our circumstances can only go up from here.”

Corby Lee, Vidor senior, was not so lucky and has decided to take the year off before finishing his degree.

“I was going to go back with some financial assistance from my grandparents, but since Harvey happened I could not commence my studies,” he said. “We had to use that money to rebuild. As a result, I decided to stay with my family and assist them.”

Lee said he is determined to finish his studies.

“It is going to be a struggle to be able to go back to school, but my family and I will pull through together and come out on top,” he said. “I look forward to returning to Lamar next fall.”

Lee has encouraging words for people who are struggling with the storm’s aftermath.

“If there are any other students that are out there dealing with a similar situation, I ask that they keep their heads up,” he said. “That is the only way to get through this disaster. That is the only way we can survive — the small victories will pull us through to see the end of this.

“We cannot change what happened, but we can change where we go from here. Keep in mind, there is always a silver lining to any cloud in the sky. No matter how dark and grey it may seem.”

Story by Cesar J. Delgado, UP contributor 

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