Less than two weeks after Hurricane Harvey, 24 Episcopal Collegiate students and teachers were on their way to help. 

The group left for Houston on Friday, Sept. 15, the start of a four-day trip. They worked in the Bear Creek neighborhood of Houston, which was mostly surpassed by the storm but later flooded when the Army Corp of Engineers released water to keep Lake Conroe Dam from breaking. 

"The water rose 10 feet in 12 hours and they didn’t have time to get their stuff out," said Mark Baillie, an upper school chemistry teacher who accompanied students on the trip. "We showed up and their whole neighborhood was decimated — literally hundreds of homes."

The group brought wheelbarrows, water, tools and other supplies. They were able to find specific individuals who needed assistance through social media and church connections.

One couple they helped included a husband who was an amputee and had breathing issues. Students moved furniture out and removed water-soaked drywall, insulation, baseboards, trim and more.

Others they helped included a disabled war veteran and his wife and a middle-aged couple of whom the husband was in the hospital with stage four colon cancer with only a few days to live. 

"After a full day of working, I found myself at a loss for words regarding all we had seen and heard over the course of just one day," said senior Andrew Mathews. 

Episcopal’s Institute for Responsible Citizenship is continuing to organize flood relief efforts, including a blood drive and a supply drive with partners in the area. The Middle School Women’s Studies Club initiated a supply drive that collected 847 diapers and 222.9 ounces of formula.

Baillie said that while there seemed to be a lot of unskilled labor to help families, "the challenge will be the skilled labor needed to help rebuild houses." Most families are living with family, in shelters or churches for now.

"This weekend has been one of the best, but also most devastating experiences I have ever seen," said sophomore Marissa Alexander. "It was a true blessing being able to make a difference in these people's lives, and it has taught me to appreciate all the small things in life."