Disabled veteran finds little help 2 years after Hurricane Harvey
By Elena Anita Watts
Aug 24, 2019
“It’s very uncomfortable with no kitchen and no fridge; I eat out all of the time, and I’m tired of it,” Ruiz said. “It’s stressful, and I have PTSD, which makes it worse.”Rain poured down the old shingle walls of the Callis Street house owned by Jesus Ruiz Jr., 67, when Hurricane Harvey hit two years ago.
A green tarp is still stretched across the roof of Jesus Ruiz Jr.’s home in the Silver City neighborhood of Victoria. Ruiz, 67, was ineligible to receive aid after Hurricane Harvey because he is purchasing the home through owner finance. The Homeowner Assistance Program recently changed its assistance criteria to accept these types of ownership agreements. Ruiz will have to reapply, which will take four to six months. Evan Lewis | email@example.com
Harvey had blown into town with wind gusts that reached 83 miles per hour, and before they died down, they cracked and carried shards of glass and sheets of rain into Ruiz’s house.
Two years later, Ruiz, a disabled veteran, remains essentially homeless.
Ruiz, who lives alone in the house, evacuated before the storm hit and returned when the flooding subsided and the roads were passable again. He found numerous damaged trees in his yard, which he and friends immediately began clearing. Shingles were missing from his roof, windows were blown in and his walls were waterlogged. He has since torn out the cabinets, countertops and particle board flooring in his kitchen and has lived without a functional place to prepare a meal.
Ruiz served as a structural mechanic in the Marine Aircraft Wing from 1970 to 1974. He served in several countries and across the United States, but on April 14, 1974, he fell mysteriously ill. He spent about six months in a hospital in Japan where he ran a high fever and dropped down to 95 pounds. Bedridden, he was sent back to the United States on a stretcher with a service-connected disability.
Ruiz had worked for about seven months on aircraft used to spray Agent Orange during the war. His health improved enough that he was able to leave the hospital, but he has been sick ever since. And many of his symptoms have worsened with age. He suffers from fibromyalgia, insomnia, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, and he takes 14 medications a day.
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