Houston mission home destroyed by Hurricane Harvey
KINGWOOD, TX – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Houston East Mission home is located in Kingwood, Texas, a town hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. Even in the affluent neighborhood where the house is, people are still struggling to recover and rebuild.
“By the end it was about here,” said Mission President Spencer Hewlett, showing the almost 5-foot-high water level. “We were shocked at how much water [we saw] when we came back. It was devastating,” said his wife Ann Hewlett, as they showed us around their former home, which is now destroyed.
President and Sister Hewlett of Centerville, Utah moved into the mission home on June 30th, 2017. “We just purchased a van, brand new. It had 3,000 miles on it. It wascompletely engulfed [with water],” said Spencer.
The couple was just two months into their calling serving the Houston East Mission when Hurricane Harvey hit.
“You don’t realize the power of water that it can literally, furniture was tipped up. It was just horrific,” said Sister Hewlett.
Not only did they lose everything they brought to Texas, but they had to worry about the safety of their then 15-year-old daughter and 150 missionaries. “[The water’s] just coming and I look at my wife and say ‘we have to go,’ I can’t communicate with the missionaries, I see that the water is rising. There’s no power, what do I do? We had to leave,” said Spencer.
The Hewletts were evacuated by boat and other members housed them, while they helped move 50 missionaries to safety, some hours away from them.
They tell us six of their missionaries had to be rescued by helicopter.
It was in these horrible moments, the mission of the Hewletts and other missionaries took on even more meaning.
“We got right away helping with all the church groups, putting on a yellow shirt, going into all of these homes and helping taking out the sheetrock,” said Elder Rose of Provo. “We’re only going to be here for a little bit, it’s not like we’re losing our homes. Everybody else here is losing where they live,” said his companion Elder Lesa, also of Provo.
“There’s still hope to offer, that’s what we can offer at least,” said Elder Rose, now that it’s been more than 8 months since the devastating storm.
Hurricane Harvey continues to impact the lives of these Utahns and so many more in Texas “We only lost the things we brought right? You look at the neighbors, you look at when they muck out their houses, there’s their pianos, amazing furniture they lost, what can we say right? It gives you the greatest empathy, you get emotional,” said Sister Hewlett.
The LDS Church moved the Hewletts into a new home and are selling the one KSL-TV visited in Kingwood. With tens of thousands of homes destroyed, this was the fastest option to get the mission president and his family settled again.