He did not take a day off until March 13.
For over a month, Stampley and his disaster response crew have worked tirelessly to help residents across Clear Lake, Pearland, League City, Friendswood and beyond recover from the storm. Stampley, who was around for Harvey and other hurricanes, said this storm was just as horrible for those affected.
“This is the biggest cluster I have ever seen in my entire life,” he said.
Thousands across the area saw burst pipes that damaged their homes. Some breaks were so bad that the homes’ interiors were completely destroyed, Stampley said.
One large home on Garden Drive in Friendswood has been almost completely gutted. The pipes burst while the family was vacationing, and the family returned to a flooded home completely ruined on the inside.
Similar destruction occurred at a house on Cameo Court in League City and another on Throndon Park Court in Clear Lake. The homes have to have their walls ripped out, their floors and ceilings replaced, potentially new piping put in, or other fixes before their owners can move back in, Stampley said.
The damage was so great because many were not aware their homes were flooding. They were staying with friends or family who had power and returned to a flooded house.
“It’s sickening,” Stampley said of the realization that your home is destroyed. “It’s absolutely sickening.”
Stampley and his crews are in the process of drying out many of these houses, a process that takes days. With temperatures rising, the risk of mold growing is increasing, Stampley said.
Afterward, the interiors that cannot be salvaged are demolished, and then Stampley’s business helps remodel the homes. In the meantime, it is difficult to witness the devastation the storm has caused for so many, he said.
“I don’t know what to do,” Stampley said.
The morning of Feb. 15, the winter storm knocked power plants out across the state, at its peak affecting 4 million customers. What began as planned rolling blackouts to conserve power became up to 72 hours of no power for some, which is what led to burst pipes as water froze in unheated homes, officials said.
Despite the destruction, residents have reported seeing people helping each other throughout the storm and its aftermath.
“Neighbors are helping neighbors, especially the elderly,” Stampley said.
One of Stampley’s customers is an elderly Vietnam veteran. When her home was destroyed from a burst pipe, an “army” of people showed up to help her pack her things and move them to the garage to dry or to her new temporary residence, Stampley said.
Mike Lopez, owner of TGS Home Services, a home repair business, said younger neighbors checked on him during the storm, and he took the time to check on single women in the area. Since the storm receded, he has seen neighbors help each other pull out wet insulation and carpet in damaged homes, Lopez said.
Eileen Halm, who lives in Pipers Meadow, lost power for nearly three full days. Being prepared for a hurricane meant she was prepared for the winter storm. She, too, saw people helping each other during the cold weather, including residents across the street who shared a generator with their neighbors so they could at least keep their lights on, she said.
“We have a lot of neighbors that look out for neighbors,” Halm said of her subdivision.
When it came to League City workers who were on the clock for up to 20 hours a day, the community stepped up to keep them fed. Esteban’s provided free food to hundreds of city staff during the storm, as did other local restaurants. Clear Creek ISD opened a cafeteria and fed League City police, fire and EMS workers, League City City Manager John Baumgartner said.
Additionally, cities are trying to be compassionate to those who suffered leaks. Both Houston and League City approved temporarily lowering water rates throughout the storm so those who ran their faucets to prevent frozen pipes and those who had burst pipes will see smaller water bills.