It was the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Harvey was also the wettest tropical hurricane on record in the United States, with peak accumulations of 51.88 inches. The resulting floods destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes, displaced more than 30,000 people and prompted more than 17,000 rescues.
Jeff Wilson, a collision repair instructor at Kingwood Park High School in Houston who started his career in education in 1995, shared his experience with Autobody News.
“I can say for certain that in my personal sub division, over 2/3 of the homes, including mine, flooded,” said Wilson. “The entire community was affected [by the hurricane] and many were displaced due to flooding.”
Wilson added that many homes closer to the West fork of the San Jacinto River are completely gone.
“The homes were washed away from their foundations,” he explained. “Many people are in hotels, renting apartments or homes close to the community that weren’t damaged by the storm, and others are doing as I am, living in an RV in the driveway.”
It has been close to three weeks since Hurricane Harvey hit, and many people are still in limbo.
“All of us are sitting waiting for responses for the resolutions to the issues of rebuilding,” Wilson said. “Fortunately, my family has flood insurance and will rebuild.”
However, that wasn’t the case for everyone.
“Many families in the area do not [have flood insurance] because they felt that since it didn’t flood in the past, they were safe,” he explained.
Humble Independent School District (Humble ISD) in Houston has five high schools. Out of the five, only three opened for the first day of class on Thursday, Sept. 7 and the other two opened on Monday, Sept. 11.
Wilson explained that there are two sister campuses in the Kingwood area: Kingwood Park High School, where Wilson teaches, and Kingwood High School.
“Unfortunately, Kingwood High School received most of the damage of all the schools---it completely flooded,” said Wilson. “The campus has been closed until further notice to rebuild.”
Wilson said students who attended Kingwood High School are being transported to Summer Creek High School on a split schedule day.
“Kingwood Park High School, which houses the collision and refinishing program, received minimal damage, including roof leaks and secondary water issues,” he explained. “Luckily, it never flooded.”
As far as the role of local body shops in the recovery process, Wilson said he’s sure they’ve had their hands full.
“The local area businesses are very busy dealing with flooded vehicles,” Wilson said. “There is a local vehicle disaster overflow staging area for flooded vehicles just north of Kingwood that seems to get fuller by the day.”
He explained that he always includes flood-damaged vehicles in the curriculum at Kingwood Park High School.
“But we seldom receive live vehicles with this type of damage,” Wilson said. “I create real-world scenarios with the students and how it’s associated with insurance, and the plan and procedures dealing with it.”
When Autobody News asked Wilson what supplies were needed by the collision repair program, he recommended the following items for donation:
• Paint toners
• Consumables such as hardeners and reducers
• Tapes and masking materials
• GFS paint booth filters
• DeVilbiss airline filtration coalescing, element and dessicant filter replacement
All donations are greatly appreciated and can be sent to:
Kingwood Park High School
ATTN: J L Wilson
4015 Woodland Hills Dr.
Kingwood, TX 77339
Despite the severity of the situation, Wilson remains positive about the recovery process.
“As always, everyone in the community will pull together and we will rebuild and persevere,” he said.