CommunityVeterans In Focus


Wheelchair-bound veteran unable to rebuild five years after Harvey

Posted at 4:42 PM, Apr 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-14 18:00:35-04

ARANSAS PASS, Texas — Almost five years after Hurricane Harvey, there are still many in the Coastal Bend who haven't been able to rebuild.

That includes an Aransas Pass U.S. Navy veteran who can’t do the work himself and has had a hard time getting someone to help.

It's been a rough five years for James Williams, whose health is declining as his home falls apart.

His pride, however, kept him from asking for help.

“I’m five years behind doing work here,” Williams said.

That backlog started when Harvey hammered the Coastal Bend.

“We rode it out,” Williams said. “We went two weeks without electricity afterwards. All the trees were down, the roads were all blocked up.”

The damage to his home was extensive. A half-decade later, it's only getting worse.

Like many Coastal Bend residents in the days following Harvey, Williams applied for help through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. However, he says FEMA's inspector didn't believe most of his damage was storm-related.

Williams only received $1,700, all of which went towards fixing his siding.

“The people next door got a brand-new house, the people behind me got a new house, (other neighbors) got a new house," Williams said. “I didn’t get squat.”

Making matters worse is the fact that Williams can’t do the work himself.

He has been in a wheelchair since late 2017, after an ulcer in his foot exploded.

”If he could do it himself he would,” said Coastal Plains Community Center Tim Dominguez.

Once we connected Dominguez with Williams, the veterans advocate and fellow Navy man, set out to find Williams some help.

“I’ve got him contact with a group called Chive (Charities)," Dominguez said. "They do grants for veterans.”

Chive Charities is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting underserved veterans, military families, first responders, and people with rare medical diagnoses, with life-changing grants.

“Even asking somebody now to help me with my house, I hate doing it,” Williams said.

Williams isn’t looking for a handout, he just needs someone to help.

“The gentleman is not trying to get out from paying (for) the repairs, he just needs some assistance,” Dominguez said.

Part of the help Williams is getting from Dominguez is finding a roofer. Williams says he's had a couple come out, but they never gave him an estimate. Dominguez says he’s found one who will look at Williams’ roof and provide an estimate.

But much more needs to be done.

“Part of the ceiling is still gone, all the sheetrock is gone,” Williams said.

His foundation also needs to be leveled.

More Veterans In Focus stories are available here, along with resources for local veterans.