PHOTO GALLERY — Harvey-damaged house in Port Arthur gets help from West Texas volunteers

Published 12:26 am Wednesday, March 15, 2023

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B.J. and Linda Harris have lived in their house in the 3200 block of 30th Street for more than 40 years. But prior to that, the residence belonged to Linda’s parents.

And it had never flooded until Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

“We had water coming in the closet,” B.J. said.

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Since then, the couple lived in the house with a rotted living room floor.

“It was horrible,” Linda said. “We could have fell in.”

But this week, a group of approximately 10 volunteers from First Baptist Church Stanton arrived to help restore the Harris’ house.

“They tore this whole floor out — I mean everything out — and put all new floors in and everything,” B.J. said. “They put me a brand new roof, and these guys drove 800 miles to come here.”

The volunteers from West Texas were among about 185 people with Bounce Student Disaster Recovery working on storm-damaged homes in Jefferson County. Volunteers of all ages come from Baptist churches across the state.

The nearly 200 in Southeast Texas were housed at First Baptist Church Nederland while spending two days primarily in Port Arthur and Beaumont.

Bounce operates through Texas Baptist Men.

Last year groups from Kingwood, Brownfield, Kilgore and Port Neches repaired storm-damaged homes in Port Arthur, Nederland and Beaumont.

Bounce partnered with Jefferson County Long Term Recovery for the Spring Break missions this year.

“I feel like I’ve grown a lot, and it makes me feel good to help other people out,” said Kameron Isemann, 16. “And they’re good folks.”

Isemann wasn’t the only teen to comment on the Harris’ kindness.

“They are really nice people,” said Pedro Vasquez, 16. “I wouldn’t wish to have had this happen to them.”

In addition to replacing the roof and a large majority of the floors, they also repainted the house.

“Once you see things, do your work, and step back and see things; you see, ‘yeah, I did that,’” Vasquez said.

And for 16-year-old Coby Gieghorn, it was also a lesson in turning hard work into great memories.

“Not everything has to be super strict,” he said. “You can have fun doing anything. Live it out.”

Bounce is affiliated with more than 5,300 Baptist churches in the state. The mission experience that sends church youth groups to disaster-affected areas was created in 2014.

Another group is scheduled to return to Port Arthur June 12-17.