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After Harvey, One Family Found Some Unusual Housemates

“If a person has the means to help, then they should. And so that’s what I did,” said Erica Kang, a teacher at YES Prep Southeast

YES Prep teacher Erica Kang took in her student Bitia Alanis and her family after Hurricane Harvey.
YES Prep teacher Erica Kang took in her student Bitia Alanis and her family after Hurricane Harvey.

This holiday season, many Hurricane Harvey survivors are still living with friends or family, as they try to rebuild or find new homes.

But some have found even more unusual housemates.

After Harvey hit, Bitia Alanis and her family bunked up with her uncle until his two-room duplex proved too cramped. So they moved back to their flooded Pasadena home before it was repaired.

“And so it was already moldy. Things were really smelly. Everything felt really sticky,” Bitia recounted.

Then her teacher Erica Kang at YES Prep Southeast found out their living situation.

“And when she told me that, I was like, ‘You guys should not be staying at that house!” Kang said.

And where did they move? To Kang’s house in Timbergrove: Bitia, her two younger brothers and her parents. Kang said that after Harvey, she and her fiance knew they wanted to take in another family.

“If a person has the means to help, then they should. And so that’s what I did,” Kang said.

They’ve all settled into a new normal, for now. Kang now takes Bitia and one of her brothers to school. And Bitia said that she’s feeling better emotionally after the flood.

“Just being able to be in a space where things were normal and things were OK made me feel a lot more safe because I had already been invaded in by water,” Bitia said.

Her family hopes to move back to their home in the spring.

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Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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