For most victims of Hurricane Harvey, life is no longer normal. The impact and stress is compounded for many families who have children with special needs.
Ernest Wiggins and Angel Field put on a brave face in a room full of strangers on Monday. It has been a rough week for the couple and their six children. The family is worn out, after being rescued from their flooded home in Port Arthur, Texas.
The parents say they feel broken, since bouncing around from shelter to shelter in the Dallas area for several days.
“They are shaken up,” said Keio Gamble. “When you are around a whole lot of people, you don’t know who to trust, or who’s really going to help.”
Gamble, a real estate entrepreneur, rallied a group of friends and community members to step up and help out hurricane evacuees like Ernest and Angela. He is offering a private place to stay, in Oak Cliff, to some of the most vulnerable flood victims who have lost everything.
“The thing that really made me jump on it was the special needs piece,” Gamble said. “You know, four out of the eight are special needs.”
The family is still too shaken to speak publicly about its transition from fleeing a flooded community to a future of uncertainty in a brand new city. That is why a community of supporters is embracing them, surprising them with a home cooked holiday meal, and letting them know they have their backs.
Tammy Simpson is President of the Troy E. Causey, Jr. Foundation, an organization that gives back to the community. The group is helping Ernest, Angel, and their kids rebuild their lives.
“It’s very uncomfortable for people to be uprooted out of their comfort zone,” Simpson said. “So, I think right now they are trying to get acclimated to a new life, per se.”
A new life, and a new beginning for the family started with new friends making sure Angel and the girls got treated to the beauty salon. Ernest and the boys got fresh haircuts.
“You know, my thing is just bring back some type of normalcy. You know, I don’t want them to look like what they are going through,” Gamble said.
However, the road to normalcy may take some time. Ernest is a painter at a refinery the hurricane shut down. He says he is torn, there is no job nor home for his wife and children to return to.
Gamble says, right now, the family needs clothing. Community members have collected a lot of toiletries/personal hygiene products. They will need socks and underwear as well.
The sizes of each family member is as follows:
• Father: 36-38 Pants, 11 Shoes, XL Shirt
• Mother: 18 Pants, 8.5 Shoes, 2X Shirt
• Sister: 18 Pants [women], 9 Shoes [women's], 2X Shirt
• 14 y/o Son: 32 Pants [men], 8 Shoes [men], XL Shirt
• 12 y/o Son: 14 Pants [boy's], 7 Shoes [men], L Shirt
• 13 y/o Daughter: 14 Pants [women], 7 Shoes [women], L Shirt
• 10 y/o Daughter: 12 Pants [women], 8 Shoes [women], M Shirt
• 6 y/o Daughter: 10 Pants [kids], 13 Shoes [kids], Medium Shirt
Gamble said anyone interested in donating any of the above-listed items may contact him at: 214-527-7524.