Helen Benjamin

Helen Benjamin has lived in Houston for more than fifty years. She moved here as a teenager to attend beauty school while also studying at Wheatley High School. In 2001, her house flooded during Tropical Storm Allison. Benjamin recalls waiting for hours to be rescued. The shelters around the city were all full, so Benjamin and other evacuees were driven around the city in an attempt to find a shelter before being taken to George R. Brown Convention Center. Benjamin explains that Hurricane Harvey was worse than Allison because the flood water stuck around for longer and it was more difficult to repair the damage to her house due to the fact that her flood insurance had expired. Benjamin received financial support from FEMA and from readers of USA Today. A journalist wrote about Benjamin’s experience for the newspaper and Benjamin received money in the mail from readers. She remembers that her neighborhood was like a big family and that neighbors checked on her during the flood. Repairs on her house took about six months, and Benjamin was displaced from September to April. She stayed in a hotel paid for by FEMA. At the end of the conversation, Benjamin talks about the students from South Dakota who came to help her repair her house. 

You can read the transcript of her interview here: