Red Cross Damage Assessment teams continue conducting detailed evaluations of properties affected by the NW Houston explosion.   One homeowner described the morning that changed the lives of many in this community, “It sounded like a bomb went off,” said Flavia Mucka. She pointed to an entire wall and adjacent fireplace separated from the foundation. The excitement of being a first-time homeowner has seemingly worn off, she purchased her home about eight months ago.

Damage assessment is a critical step for the Red Cross following a disaster because it helps to determine the level of assistance a person or family will receive from the organization.  “We are looking at homes from the inside,” says Red Cross volunteer Fernie Fernandez, “you can’t see all the damage from outside.” In a nearby block, volunteer Clarruth Seaton documented one home with a collapsed ceiling, no electricity and glass still covering the floors.  Most homes nearest the explosion site have collapsed ceilings, shifted walls, broken rafters in the attic, and cracked or broken windows.  “Repairing these homes will be tough,” explains Fernandez, “you have to inspect everything to make sure it is solid.”

Working in tandem with a network of community partners, the Red Cross has been able to assist families hit hardest to provide additional community resources to fulfill their needs.  Once the Red Cross Recovery Center closes on February 1st, community organizations like Memorial Assistance Ministries, Catholic Charities, Lone Star Legal Aid and Houston’s 311 will continue to offer support.