This is the first installment in the “Unprecedented” story series, telling the stories of Harvey through the people of Clear Creek Community Church. To learn more about the series, read the introduction here.
U of H Volleyball Serves 72-Year-Old Retired Teacher in Flooded Home
Nearly a week had passed since Hurricane Harvey hit when 72-year-old Joy Mitchell was first able to return to her one-story home in the Meadows subdivision in League City.
The retired teacher was greeted by the pungent fumes of mold and mildew that the flood waters left behind, hovering like a ghost around the carpets, walls, and wooden furniture legs. Having lost her husband to Alzheimer’s three years ago, and now living alone, Ms. Mitchell’s granddaughter stepped in that first day to help her begin to make decisions about her home. A brief survey of the four rooms, filled with decades of accumulated “stuff,” concluded she would lose nearly everything to this disaster.
Even when Tracy Brown, one of Ms. Mitchell’s former chemistry students who later became a teacher herself, reached out via Facebook to offer her three boys as manpower the next day, they just weren’t able to work faster than the mold could grow. While every effort was made, Tracy was unsuccessful in securing enough hands for Saturday, and fully anticipated another private demolition party.
And then the University of Houston volleyball team showed up.
When Tracy arrived for another day of manual labor, all 18 Lady Cougars and the entire coaching staff met her in the driveway with grins, gloves, and gumption. Among the crew was Assistant Coach Jason Allen—a longtime friend of Clear Creek Community Church’s Clear Lake campus worship pastor, Brad Loser. Coach Allen saw a Facebook post about CCCC Harvey Relief and rallied the troops to step in and assist when their away games were canceled this weekend.
“Volleyball is great, the University of Houston is great, but our city is what we’re here for,” Coach Allen says. So the Lady Cougars joined nearly 300 other laborers at CCCC’s Egret Bay campus to receive their house assignments and begin the gritty work of demolition on Saturday. They joined a CCCC team led by Travis Hicks and headed to meet Ms. Mitchell, once a University of Houston student herself.
The team could not have been more welcome at any other home.
“You guys have done more in one hour than we did all day yesterday,” Tracy said. “I feel incredibly blessed and this isn’t even my house.”
According to middle blocker Chenelle Walker, the Lady Cougars were in Dallas for away games when Harvey hit, and they had no choice but to join the rest of the world in watching the catastrophe from afar.
“It was just exciting to come back and help families,” Walker said. “I can’t even imagine how this feels.”
The ladies exhibited both enthusiasm and respect as they showcased item after item for Ms. Mitchell to determine whether it was for trash or storage.
As if a CCCC team and the U of H volleyball team weren’t enough for reinforcements, three other teachers, who also taught with Tracy alongside Ms. Mitchell at Pasadena High School, trickled in with husbands and boxes of pizza and willing hearts to serve.
The relief that Tracy felt today was certainly palpable, but her love and concern for her former teacher, coworker, and friend was even more evident.
“You know, you have those teachers that touch your life, but I would have never thought that thirty years later I could come back and do something for her,” Tracy said. “You all are definitely being the hands and feet of Jesus for her. She probably would not or has not set foot inside of a church, but today the church came to her.”