December 5, 2021

Ex-Cortland resident ‘still recovering’ after Texas flood

Nick Graziano/contributing photographer

Former Cortland resident Lisa Court talks about working for the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Galveston, Texas, during Monday’s Cortland Shriners Club dinner.

CORTLAND — Two years ago, former Cortland resident Lisa Court moved to Texas and took a job with the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Galveston, where she got the opportunity to help children.

A year later, the hospital had the opportunity to help her.

Hurricane Harvey thrashed the east coast of Texas last year, destroying homes, businesses and lives. More than 50 inches of rain fell on on the state and 340 billion gallons of rainwater flooded the Houston area.

Dickinson, where Court lives just outside the city of Houston, was one of the areas hit hardest.

“We’re still recovering,” Lisa Court said Monday.“We’re getting there very slowly.”

Her brother, Scott Court, who lives near her in Dickinson, had loaded his two dogs and himself in a canoe and paddled to her house once his became flooded. The water rose almost above the first floor of Lisa Court’s house, covering almost the entirety of Scott’s one-story home.

Lisa was able to return to her house, but damage remains to be fixed. She hasn’t been able to cook in her kitchen for nine months.

About two-thirds of their neighbors have moved back into their homes, Lisa Court said. However, she is nervous about the upcoming hurricane season because Dickinson got a lot of rain and February that flooded the streets. Drainage may be a problem.

After the flooding, Scott Court joked he was ready to move back to Cortland. At the moment, he is still living with Lisa, waiting to be able to move back into his home.

Lisa was back in Cortland this week, visiting family and made a stop at the Cortland Shriners Club’s Monday night dinner. She discussed what the Galveston Shriners Hospital does and how it has helped her.

Cortland Shriners club growing

For about a decade, Cortland County had no Shriners Club.

Then in 2017, Tom Whitney of Solon took it upon himself to reform one.

The club started with just him, but now has about a dozen members.

Whitney, president of the Cortland club, said the club had diminished due to its previous members being older and dying.

That didn’t sit well with him, because the clubs support the Shriners hospitals that provide care to children.

“We do everything for the children,” Whitney said.

Others found out he was starting the chapter and wanted to join. The chapter is also networking with the Kalurah Shriners of Vestal for support to get the group going.

All the money they raise goes to the Shriners Hospital in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Shriners was founded in 1922. It treats 127,000 children each year.

“It is amazing to work for Shriners,” said Court, the director of donor development for the Galveston hospital.

Court said the hospital’s board of governors gave everyone dehumidifiers — one thing she needed more than money.

And it gave her a distraction, too, after two weeks out of work after the floods.

There are 22 Shriners hospitals, 20 in the United States, one in Canada and one in Mexico. All provide care for children at no cost. The Galveston hospital deals with the most severe burn victims.

Court said before she took the job she didn’t know if she could handle what she was going to see at the hospital. But when she walked in the hospital, she didn’t see a typical hospital, she said she saw a fun place.

A painting graced a wall, done by a child who had lost fingers. Kids ran around and played, getting involved with various activities.

“We empower kids any way we can,” Court said. “We try to make things normal for them.”

The kids don’t miss school while they’re at the hospital. People teach them at their beds. And when they are well enough to go back to school, the hospital will ease the transition by speaking with classmates.

The hospital saves kids that are 90 percent burned, Court said.

That is due to all the studies and research the hospital does, according to Steve Behe, vice chairman of the board of governors for the Shriners Hospital in Springfield, Mass., the hospital the Cortland chapter supports. And the hospitals do all that research, and provide free care for the children, until they are 18, because of the number of people always willing to donate, Behe said.

“People always volunteer to help,” he said. “You don’t have to hold out your hand.” Lisa Court said the hospital is a happy place to be. It helped the kids get through the hurricane and it helped her.

“I couldn’t have made it through the flood without Shriners,” she said.