ARANSAS PASS, Texas (Nexstar) — A family whose apartment was damaged during Hurricane Harvey received the keys to a new home over the weekend.
The Combs family’s Aransas Pass apartment was left unlivable after Harvey’s eye passed over nearby Rockport, Texas. Christy and her husband James loaded up their family of six plus the dogs and left town during the storm.
“We came home to everything still saturated in water, there was nothing for the kids to come home to,” Combs said. “Me and my husband slept in our truck for the first three nights, helped try to clean up what we could, figure out what we were going to do next and where to put the kids.”
They obtained a tent, where the family stayed until they were able to secure an RV through Rockport Relief Camp, a group for people displaced from the storm in Aransas County.
“A family of six living in an RV, it’s a little squished,” she said, as her daughter Hannah interrupted her to say “crowded.”
“Very crowded,” she agreed as they both laughed.
After more than two years, the Combs family will finally have a home to call their own, thanks in part to some central Texas teenagers. They presented the family with the keys to their new place over the weekend.
One of those teens is 15-year-old Taylor Schmidt. The Driftwood, Texas, resident has grown up visiting the Coastal Bend.
“Since I’ve been six we been going down there,” Schmidt said.
After Harvey damaged most structures in the area and left hundreds of people without a place to stay, Schmidt and her family have volunteered their summers and many weekends to help stock supplies and rebuild homes.
“I believe that everybody should have a fair chance,” she explained.
Then she met the Combs family.
“I saw them and it just kind of broke my heart and I couldn’t stop thinking about it,” she said. She reached out to the Rockport Relief Camp team and asked how she could help.
Her fundraiser turned into a project for 4-H. The organization is well-known for youth development, with more than 550,000 participants statewide. Founded in 1908, it is part of the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service and the Texas A&M System.
Schmidt and her 4-H friend, Colby Warwick, said the fundraiser fell in line with the values of the 4-H pledge to serve others.
“A lot of the community service things will start with the heart,” Warwick, 18, said. “You have it in your heart and you care about these people any kind of transfers over into the hands, what can you do to make a difference for these people. So our hands for larger service obviously come on we got to go out and actually do the project.”
“We actually got to use our head during this as well, which is kind of during the planning and thinking through it,” he continued. “And also help because we get to have people have a healthier life because they weren’t living in a very healthy situation.”
The emotional moment was captured on camera as Combs was informed the teens had raised enough money to put a down-payment on a new home.
“It’s actually going to be cheaper for them now to own this house then it would be to rent an apartment,” Schmidt said.
Warwick said helping a fellow Texan in this way was “super awesome.”
“I was trying to fight back tears,” he said. “It was very emotional to see the excitement and how happy she was.”
“They’re wonderful kids, to do something like that for someone you don’t knows” Combs said. “It’s one thing for an adult to do it but when you were finding out it is coming from teenagers, it makes a huge difference.’
The Combs family is planning to donate their RV to another family displaced by Harvey.