TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Almost two months after the winter snowstorm hit East Texas, the East Texas Crisis Center has finally gotten walls put back in and bathrooms replaced.
The freezing February temperatures caused several pipes to burst at the East Texas Crisis Center. That led to extensive water damage to their buildings according to Heather Stoner, their development and marketing director.
“For days water ran and we were pretty much wiped out. The building up above us is our administration building; that was down to fiberglass coming out of the ceilings, and studs and cement flooring. Everything was torn up and taken out,” Stoner said. “The next buildings were hit very, very hard and our shelter had to close. Since we are the only East Texas crisis center for women to go to in the time of an abusive situation, it really has hampered what we love to do and what we do best.”
The crisis center has been in Smith County for almost 40 years. It’s the only emergency shelter in the area for those needing assistance from an abusive situation. Stoner said their shelter, administration building, and counseling centers had to shut down. But their team remains committed to helping those in need and has continued virtual counseling.
“To walk through these empty buildings that have had so much life to them and love and care in them, and have them be damaged, for those who had been here for a long time, we had a couple of weeks of grief,” Stone said.
The building Stoner and her coworkers all had separate offices in is currently undergoing repairs.
“There was one board room that was not hit, we don’t know why, but there was one board room and so all eight of us moved into there with long tables and we’re just working in a one room situation,” Stoner said.
Volunteers came out as soon as they could to help clean up and Stoner says many more have donated lunches to them over the past few weeks which helps boost morale. Churches also offered up space for them as needed.
They are making progress one day at a time but still have a long road ahead. Stoner said the first group to come in was First Restoration. They came in and gutted the buildings.
“Red Plumbing, we got to know them very well, and they spent days and days and days finding every little leak. It would be where they’d turn on the water, we’d stand in the hall and we’d yell leak if we saw a leak,” Stoner said. “We had every little sprinkler head up above you has to be replaced. We had 90 of those replaced and then they have to come in and be inspected. Electricians have to double check everything that got wet, so we’re just in the stage of literally going piece by piece down the line.”
Stoner said insurance is working with them on most things but the counselors set their offices up with their own materials from home. Stoner said they make them welcoming for the clients and many of them lost things or have to start from scratch when they come back.
“One of my dream things right now is that they would each have a gift card to maybe a local store where they could recreate their room again,” Stoner said. “This was their own personal love that was put into these rooms and it was damaged.”
Furniture from the buildings sits in PODS outside and supplies, documents, and more are stacked in the gymnasium. With the help of their team, plumbers, electricians, and the support from the community the shelter’s reopening is on the horizon.
“We miss having children’s laughter in the halls, we miss being able to be here for clients and our community, so our goal is mid-May for getting us back up and running,” she said.