As #HurricaneHarvey began to unleash trillions of gallons of water on #Houston, Demaris and her three sons escaped their flooded house in a rescue boat. @pdufilho was out helping evacuees and shuttling families from the boats to various shelters. The shelters began filling up, so Paul decided to pile the single mother, her three sons, her aunt and their dog into his truck to take to his house in order to keep them safe from the unrelenting waters. @bethanyleann, Paul’s wife, was home with their three kids when he showed up with a truck full of new friends.

The family spent the day well-taken care of at the Dulfilho’s house. The six kids became quick friends - laughing, playing, eating, doing kid things and not needing to worry about the destruction outside.

Paul and Bethany’s son, Will, was to turn four years old on August 30. They had a little celebration a few days earlier on the 26th with other family members before the storm hit the hardest. They enjoyed a delicious Lego cake (to fulfill any four year old’s dreams, of course), and they saved a small inner circle of the cake for Will to have on his real birthday, August 30th. When Demaris and her family arrived that morning, August 29th, the Dufilho’s home was still decorated with birthday regalia.

After the family got showered and settled down from their hectic, traumatic morning, word got out that it was Demaris’ oldest son’s birthday! Ethan celebrated his birthday eating what was left of Will’s Lego cake lit with twelve candles, surrounded by his family and new friends in a dry, warm house. Bethany wasn’t sure if she would have enough candles to decorate the rest of the cake for Will’s birthday the next day since she wouldn’t be able to get to the grocery store, but she gladly put the twelve candles on Ethan’s cake anyway.

The next day, a donut shop opened and they were able to pick up a donut for Will. She got the candles out to decorate the birthday donut and… there were exactly four candles left. 😭🙌🏽💃🏽

(📷: the last three pictures were taken by @bethanyleann) 😊

“Just the day before this, I had watched water creep up our driveway and I had felt terror for my own children & home. It was like in that moment He was reassuring me that no matter what He would provide. Even in the midst of devastation and loss He is there and taking care of us all.” -@bethanyleann

Today, about twenty friends and strangers showed up for hours to help Demaris mud out her house. She gazed around at all the people helping. She glanced back at me with bloodshot, tired eyes on the verge of tears… “I’m not alone. That’s what means the most to me. I just don’t know what else to say. I’m not alone.”


Hannah Taylor