She believes it’s her duty to help those who were caught in the storm.
It’s 6 o’clock, and Lisa Forney is still at her desk.
The halls of Cardiff Junior High are empty, but she’s not ready to go home yet.
Helping survivors of the storm and meeting the day-to-day duties of an assistant principal means long hours. Lisa does it anyway.
Hurricane Harvey slammed her community in Katy, Texas. Homes were flooded, some filled with 3-feet of stagnant water from the slow-moving storm. On a cul-de-sac a few miles from Cardiff Junior High, residents had to escape to their attics and be rescued by boat.
Two months after the storm, their neighborhood is still unrecognizable, with abandoned homes, piles of debris on lawns, and shattered windows.
The storm affected more than 200 students and staff at Cardiff Junior High.
“When you’ve lost everything, it’s devastating. We are so tied to our homes. It’s our place. It’s our peace of mind. It’s up to us who did not have a problem to work, and that’s what we’re doing,” Lisa said.
The assistant principal recruited cleaning crews to haul away junk and scrub floors in storm-battered homes. She bought pencils and notebooks for students who lost theirs in the water. She set up a food pantry outside her office and told displaced students they could come by whenever they wanted and take whatever they needed, no questions asked. She relies on school volunteers, spreadsheets, and sign-up forms to keep her home-grown hurricane relief effort humming.
“There’s a job for everyone,” she said from her office, a small, but inviting room filled with thank you notes and colorful knickknacks from students and colleagues. In the hallway, there’s some unusual deliveries—new furniture and mattresses waiting to be delivered to survivors.
“These are unusual times, and it will be a while before we can get back to life as normal. Kids are very resilient — kids ,they bounce back very quickly. It’s the adults, it’s the mamas, that I worry about. Some are angry. Some lost everything they worked their whole lives to build. Some are living in hotels or with their brother-in-law or sister-in-law. It’s very hard for them,” Lisa said.
Lisa’s latest project is a pop-up Thanksgiving market, where hurricane-displaced families can pick up turkeys and canned food. She’s managed to make it happen thanks to local businesses, the Katy community, and a partnership with GlobalGiving and Dawood Foundation.
In times like this, it helps to have a neighbor like Lisa.
This is a story from GlobalGiving’s new Voices From The Crowd series.