The bleach fumes make Angelica Castaneda’s eyes burn, but watery eyes are better than her children falling ill because of mold. Wearing athletic shorts and a teal T-shirt, the 30-year-old splashes a gallon of bleach onto baseboards in what used to be her children’s play area – a room, now covered in water stains, where a fan dangles precariously from the ceiling.
HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT
After Hurricane Harvey, obstacles to rebuilding are often hidden from those who aren't facing them: “The mentality is ‘I’m OK, so everybody else must be OK,’” said Kim Pickens, a case manager helping people recover. Hidden in Plain Sight explored inequality – and how Harvey exposed the gap between the people who could afford to rebuild and everyone else. This project was produced with the support of USC Center for Health Journalism’s National Fellowship and by Report for America, which deploys emerging journalists in local newsrooms like the Victoria Advocate. This project is available in Spanish through a partnership with Revista de Victora.
Theresa Martinez can still remember the sound of parents’ cheers and the smell of pizza and nachos sold at the concession stand at the Little League field in Bloomington, a rural community deep in the heart of South Texas.
Although dozens of cars whiz past her every day, sometimes Devan Orsak believes the people around her pretend she doesn’t exist.
To passers-by on rural U.S. 59, the brick house on the outskirts of Victoria looks like any other country home.
Tristin Gary’s desperate last resort came in the form of a one-room apartment, with just a minifridge, microwave, tiny sink, shower and toilet.
It wasn’t long ago that developers were busy building hundreds of new rental units, the biggest boom that Victoria, a city of 67,000, had seen since the 1980s.
“You like videos?” asks Robert Blaschke while sitting behind a large desk at the courthouse in Refugio, a once-booming oil and ranching county home to 7,300 people.
(Click on the photo to see their stories.) On Aug. 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey slammed the Texas Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane, causing an estimated $125 billion in damage. Many people lost their homes. Some people are still fighting with insurance companies. Other people jumped into action to help their vulnerable neighbors.
Related: Ongoing coverage
An uncomfortable silence filled the room Thursday night at the University of Houston-Victoria’s Addressing Homelessness Symposium, when the audience was asked whether any city officials were in attendance.
The number of people identified by volunteers as living on the street more than tripled in Victoria County since last year, a trend experts blame largely on rising housing costs and a lack of affordable places to rent.
The children had never seen anything like it: Dozens of presents in all shapes and sizes, wrapped with colorful paper and shimmering ribbons, piled so high that one stack of gifts towered over the younger children’s heads.
For the first time in years, Vickie Hagan doesn’t have to worry.
It’s the simple things that Devan Orsak is grateful for this Thanksgiving.