By Georgia Duncan, American Red Cross

In a makeshift studio inside an American Red Cross shelter, Sandy Binion creates amazing paintings.

The self-taught artist began pen drawings when she was in elementary school in Vietnam and her brother would color them.  After coming to the United States at age 19, she completed her education and became a teacher.

Things were going well for Sandy until Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas and floodwater drove her from her suburban Houston home.  Before fleeing, Sandy grabbed what she could quickly get into her car including her bag of paints, easels, a few canvases and her third-grade math tutoring books.

“I was praying the whole way ‘please don’t let my car flood,’” she said, recalling her drive to the shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

DR397 SHELTER ARTIST PHOTO2
Sandy Binion works on her paintings at the American Red Cross shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. Sandy was forced from her home when Hurricane Harvey struck Texas and she spends her time at the shelter drawing and painting and teaching youngsters the basics of painting. (Red Cross photo by Carl Manning)

To fill her days until she can leave the shelter, Sandy paints, displaying her artwork to be enjoyed by other shelter residents and volunteers. She enjoys discussing techniques and styles with others in the shelter.

Recently, she befriended a couple of third graders and asked if they would like some help with their math lessons.  While the children weren’t excited about school work, their mother was ecstatic. Sandy got out her tutoring books and gave the kids a 40-minute session.

After math, Sandy asked the kids if they would like a lesson in art and she proceeded to teach them some basics in oil painting.

DR397 SHELTER ARTIST PHOTO5
Sandy Binion is staying at the Red Cross shelter at the George R. Brown Convention Center in House after being forced out of her home by Hurricane Harvey. To pass the time, she tutors children at the shelter in math and also paints pictures. (Red Cross photo by Carl Manning)

“The kids kind of liked the math but they really loved painting,” she said.

Sandy said her future is uncertain because she’s not sure if her home will be livable and she still needs to find a job. But for now, she’s glad to be where she is, helping kids with their math and sharing her love of art.

“I’m grateful for the safe place that I’m in and the opportunity to help others while I’m here,” she said.