"So much water damage — just everywhere."
Sam Washington, 19, is familiar with the halls and corners of Covenant House. As he makes his way through the shelter, he points out the waterline, where the carpets were ripped up, and the spots of ceiling that sprung leaks. "This room had it bad."
A shelter and facility that provides meals, services, and a place to sleep for homeless and at-risk youth, Covenant House was a constant refuge for Sam before Hurricane Harvey made landfall in southeastern Texas and ravaged Houston with rain for days. A recovering alcoholic and addict, Sam had stayed at Covenant House before, and that's where he returned when the father of the friend he was crashing with kicked him out of the house when the storm started. "I slept outside on their porch until the rain stopped," he tells MTV News. "I hurried and came back this way because I knew that they were gonna accept me."
Sam's not alone. Marquis Horn, 18, and Ke'vena Harris, 19, both came to Covenant House before the hurricane to flee from familial tension and abuse, and Leslie Bourne, the Executive Director of Covenant House Texas, tells MTV News that they took in about 15 people throughout the storm — including a friend of Marquis's. For Ke'vena, it was horrifying to watch the hurricane rip apart her city, but it offered a humbling — and optimistic — perspective in its wake.
"When this happened and you just watch the news, like, 'That can be me,' it was devastating, and I was scared, but at the same time, you know you have comfort here," she says.
"Honestly, I don't know how Houston is going to recover from this. But us as human beings, as long as we stick together and know that we can make a change within ourselves — like, we don't always have to depend on other people — then I think we'll be okay. We'll be able to move forward with our lives."