Helping the Victims of Hurricane Harvey and Irma

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 13, 2019

As reports of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation began to pour in, we knew we had to respond. Second in size only to Katrina back in 2005, this massive storm drenched Houston with a record 50 inches of rain in just a few days. It stalled out over the region, caused unprecedented flooding and then laid down a slow, soaking track along the Gulf Coast.

Our crews pulled together supplies and equipment, loaded up the trucks and headed for Texas on August 30. Co-Owner and Operations Director Neil Zaba remembers that Wednesday morning.

“We couldn’t sit back and watch. We knew our Chicago and Skokie headquarters had enough resources to make a difference. ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba was there last year when Hurricane Matthew hit North Carolina. This is what we do, and we were thankful that we could help.”

Hurricane Harvey’s Aftermath

It took 16 hours and 1,000 miles to reach Houston. We knew Tropical Storm Irma had just formed in the Atlantic, but no one suspected it would turn into another disaster brewing just over the horizon. The entire nation was focused on historic flooding across the Texas coast and surrounding areas.

Through coordinated rescue and recovery efforts, Neil and the team joined countless others from all across the country. It was a huge undertaking that pulled together government agencies and citizen volunteers. In Harris County alone, more than 119,000 homes were affected by the unrelenting rain.

Our crews worked for days shoulder to shoulder with local officials and exhausted residents. They were busy almost 24/7 with cleanup and restoration for flooded residential and commercial properties. Neil recalled finally winding down operations and speaking with a tired but relieved homeowner.

“It’s times like these that make me really appreciate how generous people can be. Every one of us here in Houston are grateful to folks like you and your team who left their homes and businesses to help us through all this.”

Hurricane Irma’s Destruction

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Irma was quickly becoming a massive hurricane that would roar through Florida and uproot thousands of lives. We didn’t know what was in store as our crews finished the work in Texas. We did know that we couldn’t go back home with so many people still in harm’s way.

Neil and the team left Houston early Monday morning, September 18. This time, the drive took 14 hours and covered another 1,000 miles. As they made their way across the Florida panhandle and down through the state, it seemed as though every home and business had been damaged.

Hurricane Irma was a historic storm too, and it was much bigger than Harvey. It slammed into south Florida on September 10 as a 650-mile wide monster with sustained winds hitting 130 miles per hour. As the worst of the severe weather tore north and out of state, flash flooding and electrical outages affected more than 15 million homes.

Once again, our crews joined countless volunteers from in and out of state who gladly donated time, labor and equipment. The team put every ounce of their flood restoration expertise to work in homes and businesses, and the response kept them going almost around the clock. They were really touched by one business owner’s kind words.

“We thought we’d lost everything, but your team’s given us hope. No one here wants to call it quits, and now we know we can recover from all this and get our doors open again. It won’t be tomorrow, but we know we can do it.”

Our Gratitude for Your Support

With Neil and the crew safely home, we’re so happy that all of us could contribute in our own way and help our neighbors down in Texas and Florida. We know you’ve done your part too. It wasn’t that long ago that we were dealing with our own terrible floods here in Chicago. We pulled together then, and we’ll do it again.

By coordinating with local organizations, we connected with so many folks who were dealing with unprecedented hardship. We were able to make their lives a little better with our flood restoration services. It’s something we’ll always remember here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, and we’ll always feel privileged to have been a part of the recovery efforts in both states.

We hope we don’t have to leave home again anytime soon, but we’re so thankful that we’re in a position to make a positive difference here and anywhere else we might be needed. We thank you too for your continued support through the years. You help make everything we do possible, and we’re very grateful.