CYPRESS, Texas—“I keep telling everyone that we’re honestly so good. We’re really relaxing, hanging out, and we’re no story at all,” Nicole Richert offered as an explanation for why she and her husband accepted 16 strangers and six dogs into their home days after Hurricane Harvey flooded areas of Cypress, Texas.
“We were just headed to the gas station when my aunt called, and she was looking for a lady named Judy who had been air boated out of her neighborhood,” Richert told the TEXAN. They had just pulled into the very Shell station where her aunt had told them to find the woman and her husband.
“When we found her we realized as we were walking through that all these other people had nowhere to go,” she explained. A bus was transporting evacuees to a local school that had not yet opened to provide shelter. “We said, ‘Who needs a home?’ That was it.”
Richert serves as children’s minister at Fairfield Baptist Church in Cypress, where first responders have been offered a respite area. Some neighborhoods experienced six to eight feet of flooding in houses, and churches in the area are coordinating how to meet ongoing needs.
“We’re just trying to see what to do and where to go,” stated Jim Daniel, pastor of Fairfield Baptist, which took a hit from Hurricane Ike in 2008. He wasn’t surprised by the response of the Richert family in meeting needs of evacuees.
The collection of house guests included older couples and young families, all grateful for help. The Richerts served up chili and cornbread for dinner then found places for them to sleep throughout the house. They even made room for one family’s dogs, including a dachshund that had just given birth to puppies.
“This is one of those experiences where you spend time with people you don’t normally take the time to enjoy,” Richert added, describing two-hour dinners of good conversation. “We are really living very easy and comfortable.”
Relatives have picked up the couple they initially had been asked to find, and one family is waiting for the water to recede before returning home. While FEMA offered lodging at a hotel for one of the families, they accepted their host’s invitation to remain along with the fourth family who will stay until their carpet is cleaned up from the flooding.
Teaching lessons about being a good neighbor is a part of Nicole Richert’s ministry to children, so making that application came naturally to her family.
“I hadn’t really even processed it or thought through it,” she admitted. “You see a need? You meet a need.”
Get up-to-date information, find opportunities to volunteer, and give online at sbtexas.com/harvey.