Mother and son pose in front of a playground in TX
What a Difference a Year Makes.
During Hurricane Harvey, 10-year-old DeAndre and his mom, Alexia, were living with a friend in Houston. As the water levels rose, the floors in their apartment flooded and the paint and plaster began to peel off the walls. When the bathroom in the ceiling caved in, Alexia knew they needed to go. She just wasn’t sure she was ready to face the next step.
“Harvey was the event before the straw that broke the camel’s back,” says Alexia. “The straw that broke the camel’s back was us ending up in a shelter.”
Alexia was exhausted. She worked nights, barely had time to sleep and spent every free moment waiting in lines to apply for housing. She was also worried about DeAndre.
It’s hard to picture a kid like DeAndre, full of energy and life, stuck in a shelter without the space to be a kid. At the shelter, Alexia brought DeAndre over to Save the Children’s Child Friendly Space.
“When my mom first took me to Save the Children, I was nervous,” says DeAndre. But it didn’t take long for the nerves to disappear. DeAndre made friends, played games, created art and went on field trips to places like local museums. “We had fun!” says DeAndre.
Alexia says the Child Friendly Space “gave him the ability to be a kid.” It allowed him to disconnect from the stress of the storm and gave Alexia peace of mind knowing that DeAndre was safe and happy, and having fun with new friends. It also allowed Alexia time to take care of arrangements to get them out of the shelter.
But Alexia felt like she and DeAndre were slipping through the cracks. Days went by with no word of where they were headed next or when they could leave. Save the Children staff at the shelter stood by Alexia and helped her ask the right questions to ensure they weren’t forgotten. “If it wasn't for Save the Children, we wouldn't be in an apartment. We would probably be either moved around to a different place from the shelter or we would be out on the street.”
And one-year post Harvey, DeAndre unlocks the door to their new, fully furnished apartment. He has his own room, a playground around the corner, and space to race from one end to the other. Alexia recently started a new job at a veterinarian clinic — in the field she’s interested in— with a schedule that allows her to spend more time with DeAndre.
Thinking back to Hurricane Harvey, DeAndre now says, “I wasn’t really worried about it because I know my mom would handle it.” Alexia is quick to chime in, “I couldn’t handle a hurricane!”
But maybe what counts is the fact that DeAndre believes his mom can.
Save the Children has committed a team to Texas through August 2019 to support recovery efforts for children, families and child-centric institutions most affected by the storm. Learn more and support the next phase of our recovery work.