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Del Mar carpentry students aim to rebuild after Harvey

Posted at 11:15 AM, Feb 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 12:18:36-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Del Mar College is hosting a job fair for students in their carpentry training program which was created to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

A grant from the Rebuild Texas Fund made it possible for Del Mar to offer the free 10-week program.

At the school, nearly 70 percent of students who have taken the class were either directly affected by Harvey or have loved ones who were.

Bill Stein, a former Sinton ISD principal, is one of 50 current students in the Rebuild Texas program.

Stein says he felt moved to come out of retirement for the program after seeing his loved ones lose everything during the hurricane.

“It was like, how are they going to fix this,” Stein said. “You know, there was debris everywhere and homes were flattened, and it was just a mess."

Project manager Arnold Mendez said living through the hurricane was a devastating experience for many in the area.

“I've heard stories from some of these people, some with tears in their eyes about how their homes were destroyed, there were even some that were homeless for a while,” Mendez said.

Maria Dominguez signed up as soon as she heard about the program and says she wasn't the only one wanting to help.

She was on the wait list for months, saying she felt helpless when her friends lost their homes.

“They needed help with replacing some windows that had been broken and at that time I didn't have those skills, but I'm learning them now,” Dominguez said.

After Hurricane Harvey, carpenters had to be brought in from out of state.

"Could not find competent workers,” Mendez said. “They couldn't find skilled laborers."

Now, there are 120 Rebuild Texas graduates whose first jobs were fixing their own homes.

They can repair windows, roofs, doors and even build tiny homes.

And, they're OSHA certified.

They say they're confident that if another disaster were to happen...they'll be ready.

"This could happen next year,” Stein said. “That way, people will be prepared to come to the rescue."

Today, students will meet with local businesses, non-profits and independent contractors who still need help rebuilding.

The class of 50 will be graduating next Thursday, so congratulations to them.