Houston Family Takes in Almost a Dozen People, 6 Dogs, and a Cat

Posted by Jason Sarna
Hurricane Harvey
Image by Nicole Richert via People

Nicole Richert is a woman with a big heart.

On Monday, the 41-year-old children's pastor at Fairfield Baptist Church ferried 11 people, six dogs, and a cat to her spacious five-bedroom, four-bathroom home.

"We were willing to put people wherever," says Richert, a married mother of three. "I wasn't even a little bit nervous about having strangers come and stay. It was 'see a need, meet a need.' We didn't even hesitate."

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Richert learned of the people from her aunt who called and said a friend of a friend of a friend was stuck at a Shell gas station.

"All she knew was that her name was Judy and she was with her husband and a neighbor," says Richert. "So I walked around the gas station saying, 'Does anyone know a Judy?'"

Richert found Judy, her husband, and their neighbor, Patsy Rae Creighton, a 64-year-old grandmother, and took them all to her home.

Richert and her family returned to the same Shell gas station until every one of the dozen or so people displaced by Hurricane Harvey were either in her home or found a place to go.

Cynthia Avalos, her husband, and their 15-year-old son arrived with their six dogs via a tractor that took them from waist-high flood waters gushing through their home.

"I wondered where are we going to end up? What will happen to us?" Avalos recalls. "And someone comes up to us and says, 'Do you want to come with us?' I was like 'Really? You only see three dogs and I have three more,' and they said, 'We don't care. We have plenty of space.'"

In the days that followed, the group has shared many meals and prayers, long talks, and news-watching sessions.

"It's unexplainable," says Creighton. "We are all kindred, like a little blended family."

Creighton, who retired from the Army, recently moved to Houston to be close to her son and grandchildren. She fled her flooded home on Sunday and doesn't yet know the extent of its damage.

Richert has told Creighton she can stay as long as likes.

"Nicole is amazing," says Creighton. "You don't see people like that, I don't think I've ever met anyone like her. Her spirit is so genuine; if this is how angels are, she must be one. She is a godsend."

Richert, meanwhile, doesn't think what she and her family are doing is a big deal. "I don't feel I am giving anything," she says. "It makes my life a bit more rich."

Have you ever taken strangers or pets into your home during a natural disaster? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Houston Family Takes in Almost a Dozen People, 6 Dogs, and a Cat