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Gregory Mayor Celestino Zambrano (far right) congratulated local resident Maria Moreno (top of stairs) on receiving her new home, provided by Cheniere Energy and the Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group, nearly three years after Hurricane Harvey destroyed her previous one.

GREGORY – After nearly three years, Gregory resident Maria Moreno was given the keys to her new home after Hurricane Harvey damaged her old one, but it was no easy task.

The Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group (CBDRG) and Cheniere Energy welcomed Moreno and her family during a home dedication ceremony on June 5 and held a ribbon cutting with a crowd full of supporters.

Moreno and her family evacuated to Cotulla during Harvey and were not sure what they would return to back home in Gregory. Moreno said she had two large trees on the side of her house which fell and damaged the roof, causing water to come in and later create mold. 

Eventually the wooden floor in the living room began to buckle and raise up. With nowhere else to stay, Moreno continued to live in that home.

“My brother Raul said, ‘You need to get out, you need to get another house. This house is dangerous,’” Moreno said.

“My caseworker  Mrs. Rochelle (Jones) said don’t give up because I had already given up because nobody wanted to help. So I said just forget it.

“She said ‘No, ma’am, don’t give up. We’re going to make it.’

“And we did.”

Jones added, “It was a process. Even though she wanted to give up my hashtag with all the clients is #faith. But after three denials I finally just gave them the rundown of what had happened when it came for them to decide and why we needed this home at the present time, and it finally worked.” 

Moreno  stayed in Corpus Christi while her three-bedroom, two-bathroom home was under construction  1,015 days after her home of 45 years had been destroyed.

“This home is a labor of love from Cheniere’s employees,” Cheniere Energy Community Affairs Manager Steven Davidson said. “It’s not simply an investment in brick and mortar, it’s an investment in the Moreno family who have overcome so much and whose love will make this house a home.”

Cheniere Energy partnered with CBDRG to rebuild four homes and complete eight repairs — Moreno’s home is the fourth home completed. In addition to Cheniere’s donation, CBDRG received funding from Global Giving and the United Methodist Church Committee on Relief – Rio Texas Conference. Christian Public Services (CPS), and Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) provided the volunteers who built Moreno’s home and the following week, the Coastal Bend Food Bank (CBFB) supplied her family with perishable and non-perishable food items.

“I want to thank CBDRG, Cheniere and a special thanks to the case managers who worked so hard to get Maria back home to Gregory,” Mayor of Gregory Celestino Zambrano said. 

“This long journey is now a reality and it is a good reminder that we need to stick together and take care of each other.”

CBDRG and their partners have completed 45 rebuilds and replaced 56 manufactured homes, making Moreno’s home number 101. Currently, there are houses under construction in Taft and Port Aransas and one to begin in Aransas Pass. The organization remains committed to three main goals as they continue working in the area: help families return their homes to a safe, secure, habitable condition, keep the community together and bring resiliency to the community.

Almost three years following the destruction of Hurricane Harvey, Coastal Bend residents and socially vulnerable families are still in need of assistance to recover from the devastation. CBDRG has been working diligently to bring families back home. The work is made possible thanks to the generous donors and hardworking volunteers.

CBDRG continues to seek volunteers who range from skilled laborers to general help. To learn more about the CBDRG and to fill open volunteer positions visit www.coastalbenddrg.org/volunteer.

“I just want to thank everybody who worked towards getting me into this house,” Moreno said. “CBDRG, the donors and volunteers and especially my case worker, she never left my side and that means so much to me and my family.”

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