Life had its challenges for Forrest and Crystal Flowers and their sons, Forrest Jr. and Hunter before Hurricane Ike dealt its blow to their mobile home.
It all started around 2005.
A series of medical problems leading to an aneurism and multiple surgeries forced Forrest into retirement from his job as on-site manager for Briggs-Weaver, a supply company to Exxon-Mobil. Crystal, a dental assistant by training, spent many hours at the hospital, with 2 young children in tow. She took odd jobs as she could find them, although the family started falling behind on payments.
As if those mounting difficulties weren’t enough, tragedy struck again. Crystal’s brother Garry, who she had leaned upon during those hard times, was killed in a car crash. “He was my best friend and father figure,” Crystal said.
Six months later, another dreaded call came to the family residence, while Forrest was in the hospital recovering from aneurism surgery. Forrest’s 28-year-old son from a previous marriage, Corrie Wayne, had died in a motorcycle accident.
Depression set in.
“I was going from the bed to the couch,” said Forrest, who could barely walk.
Bankruptcy proceedings were added to the mix as the Flowers family held out the hope that Forrest would regain his health.
Creditors hauled away their car. The family’s mobile home had also been scheduled to be repossessed, but Hurricane Ike beat the repo men to the punch in 2008. The devastation created a crack down the middle seam of the double-wide residence. Now the bank didn’t want that heavily damaged home back.
“At first we thought it was a blessing, but then we started talking to contractors and realized we couldn’t afford to repair it,” said Crystal.
But then, the Flowers met a gentleman by the name of David Bowman who they will never forget.
“That man was like an angel to us. He took us down to Diana Lane and walked us through the application process,” Forrest said.
Crystal was in a delicate emotional state when she heard the first comments of the case manager at Harris County Recovers.
“Unfortunately, our program does not allow for the repair of mobile homes.”
Before the case manager finished her remarks, Crystal burst into tears.
“But we will be able to build you a brand new home.”
Crystal was too emotionally raw to let those words sink in at that moment. The days and months ahead would have to prove that to her.
With new resolve, the Flowers worked their way through the approval process. They selected a contractor, floor plans and tried to keep their sons (then 10 and 7) in some kind of normal routine.
Forrest, grieving while trying to regain some mobility, saw an opportunity to change his focus as he was taking his sons to school. He could become a crossing guard. Able to stand for brief periods of time, Forrest saw it as the one job he could do. So he signed up.
“I smiled and waved at everybody. I don’t know what it did for them, but it sure did something for me,” he said.
Finally, in January 2012 the house was completed. Harris County’s Levonne Harrell (pictured on front cover) met Forrest and Crystal on their property with their new set of keys. It was time to start a new chapter.
Crystal says there were days the first few weeks when she would wake up in her new home surprised all over again at her surroundings. Then, more tears, but this time, the happy kind.
Harris County Recovers Moves from Diana Lane
As of June 25, 2012 Harris County Recovers has relocated to the Harris County Community Services Department at 8410 Lantern Point Drive, near Reliant Stadium.
Our office hours continue to be Monday through Friday, 8 am - 5 pm. We will continue to receive appointments at this address.
Please make a note
of our new numbers:
Fraud Hotline: 1-855-393-2954
Office Fax: 713-664-7299
Don’t Forget to Budget for Homeowners Insurance
As homeowners, you are likely already familiar with the responsibility of maintaining homeowners insurance. For those living in a flood plain, flood insurance is also required. If you discontinue your insurance following repair or rebuild of your home, you will be ineligible for FEMA or other federal assistance in the future if needed following a disaster. Therefore, please keep your property and flood insurance active!
Your Responsibility to Previous Home Mortgage Loans Remains
If you currently owe a bank, mortgage company or other financial lender for the original purchase of your property, your obligation with that financial institution remains. Participation in the Harris County Recovers Program does not remove a previous debt. However, it is possible that failure to pay your previous mortgage could result in foreclosure of your current rehabilitated or reconstructed property, or make you ineligible to continue in the program. By all means, make sure to stay current on your mortgage payments.