Texas P.R.I.D.E. Crisis Counseling Program Survivor Success Stories JoAnne's Story

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Success Stories

By Steffany Duke

San Leon resident JoAnne Forest, 68, decided to stay put during Hurricane Ike, but as the water started crashing in around her, she quickly changed her mind. The water got so deep that Forest barely made it to shelter.

“There was no time to take anything with me because the water was coming in both ways,” Forest said. “I only had time to get myself out.”

Forest felt lost and alone as the storm was coming in. She said she didn’t know where to go because no hotels were open, and there was no one to call for help. Forest eventually went to her sister’s house in Bacliff, a nearby town, but she still couldn’t escape the water.

“The water kept coming in,” Forest said. “I tried to sweep it out, but there was no where to sweep it.”

When the storm finally passed, Forest was left with nothing. Her mobile home and most of her belongings were ruined, including her truck. Forest was forced to stay in hotels for months until she got word from FEMA that she’d be getting a replacement trailer.

“I was scared to come back at first,” Forest said. “I thought maybe I should just move on, but everybody knows me and takes care of me here.”

Before she left the hotel, Forest heard about the crisis counseling program. Counselors were able to help Forest build her self esteem and feel comfortable to return home. The CCP also found out that Forest could not read or write, and that she depended on many people to make sure she paid bills and was taken of. After the storm, certain people who helped Forest could not find her.

“We found out that the Bay Area Humane and Community Support System lost contact with JoAnne during the storm, but we were able to connect her back to them and also Meals on Wheels,” Kacy Chaffin, Crisis Counselor, said.

Chaffin also helped Forest realize skills she has that are not related to reading or writing, like her ability to provide friendship and support to everyone around her, including neighbors who don’t speak English.

“I have some Vietnamese neighbors that I am good friends with,” Forest said. “We bring each other food to communicate because we can’t speak to each other.”

Outreach workers say JoAnne’s good spirit is infectious. The team visited her many times while she was staying in hotels, and when she got her new trailer, they held a welcome home party. JoAnne says she owes everything to the CCP staff for giving her the courage to return.

“If it wasn’t for Kacy and everyone, I’d still be at the hotel,” Forest said. “Thanks to them, I have my new beginning.”

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Last updated May 19, 2010