Stolen Habitat for Humanity trailer a setback in restoring flood victim’s home

Jose Velazquez looks out at his property where his home was flooded in 2015, and will soon be rebuilt by Habitat for Humanity. (KXAN Photo/ Alyssa Goard).

TAYLOR, TX (KXAN) — Wednesday, Habitat for Humanity of Williamson County found that one of its trailers full of equipment at a project site had been stolen. Now they need to have the supplies inside replaced to move forward with that project.

Jose Velazquez lived in his home on West 6th Street in Taylor for 30 years — that is until the Memorial Day floods of 2015 swept it off the foundation.

“A lot of water got under the house and it fell down because of all of the water, and the bricks broke because they were old-style bricks made in the old times,” Velazquez said.

Debbie Hoffman, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Williamson County, explained that the Williamson County Long Term Recovery Committee repaired most of the homes damaged in the flooding, but two homes in Taylor (one of which was the one Velasquez was living in), were beyond repair. Habitat took on the process of completing those homes, and Velasquez and his sons have been helping out in the rebuilding.

Hoffman explained that they were in the final stages of working on the home when the trailer was stolen. A volunteer went to the site to pick up equipment when the trailer was nowhere to be found.

“It is a loss for us and we will have to work to get equipment back into our system, and we hope to do that as quickly as possible because we definitely want to finish this house for Jose and his boys,” Hoffman said.

She added that a home like this requires around 200 volunteers and 2,200 volunteer hours to complete. The loss of the trailer isn’t just a physical setback, Hoffman explained.

“It’s more devastating and demoralizing to the community at large and to our volunteers who take care of all these things, because they’ve been donated and the dollars have been donated,” she said.

A photo of the trailer Habitat for Humanity of Williamson County said was stolen off of their project site. Courtesy Habitat for Humanity of Williamson County.
A photo of the trailer Habitat for Humanity of Williamson County said was stolen off of their project site. Courtesy Habitat for Humanity of Williamson County.

Jose Velasquez was hoping to move back into his home in 2017, but Hoffman explained that losing this trailer may delay his ability to do that. Hoffman added that the extended wait Velasquez has dealt with following the flooding is not uncommon for disaster victims.

“This is an example of how long it will take to recover from the effects of Hurricane Harvey,” Hoffman explained.

While her team focuses on Williamson County, she added that some of her team’s rebuilding skills will be used in Habitat’s Harvey recovery efforts statewide. She hopes people feel compelled to help flood victims like Velasquez in the long term.

“We don’t want to forget families that have been hurt by a natural disaster, we don’t want to forget families who have been living in poverty, we encourage people who have a heart for this to contact us,” Hoffman said.

The stolen trailer was located in the 3700 block of County Road 417, just east of Taylor on Monday. Taylor police said the trailer was badly burned and all the items had been stolen from inside the trailer–a loss of $9,000.

If you would like to volunteer or donate, you can contact the office at 512-863-4344.

 

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