The West Houston IPSAA chapter brings the industry together to help with a pool renovation in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey
By Michelle L. Cramer
Hurricane Harvey ravaged the greater Houston area on Aug. 26, 2017, leaving a wake of utter devastation from the floodwaters. Mark Uberecken, owner of Unified Pool Solutions in Houston, says that once the floodwater receded, thousands of volunteers came into help with cleanup. The streets were lined with piles of trash, which amounted to practically everything that victims owned being utterly destroyed.
“It was December before neighborhoods began to resemble themselves,” Uberecken says. “It was also December when the adrenaline and truckloads of volunteers left and reality was sinking in.”
It became obvious to Uberecken and other members of the newly founded West Houston IPSAA chapter that, while homes were clean, the people within them were hurting. “It weighed heavily on me that they needed to know they were not forgotten,” he says. And, while the members of the IPSAA chapter were just beginning to learn each others strengths, they saw the need and wanted to help, recognizing that it would not only help someone in the community, but build community within their chapter.
Each West Houston IPSAA chapter member submitted a family for consideration for a backyard recovery project. The chapter voted and decided to help Corky, who has lived in her Concord Bridge home in West Houston for 18 years. When Harvey hit, water filled her home for nine days and nothing was salvageable. During cleanup, all of the contents of her home were removed, but her backyard pool remained full of contaminated water, snakes and even fish. “I have always prided myself on taking good care of my pool,” Corky says. “The water always sparkled. But after Harvey, my pool was a ‘clear’ reflection of my life. Looking at that every day was hard.”
Even after draining the pool when funds became available, the damage sustained from the force and duration of the stagnant, contaminated water left her pool and equipment in dire need of repair. And that’s where the West Houston IPSAA chapter came in.
“What we did not expect was the generous response we would receive from local distributors, other companies and associations,” Uberecken says. “Donations of equipment, material, labor and additional funds came in until everything was covered.”
The IPSAA members had a workday in July and then other jobs were completed as donating companies had time to work it into their schedules. On Aug. 26, 2018 — a year to the date after Harvey hit — the pool was refilled. Two phases of the project are complete. The final phase — repainting the deck, installing a handrail, and addressing a wiring issue for the lights that came up during repairs — should be completed soon.
“We saw someone in need and we were delighted to be able to help,” says Bill Williams, chapter president of the West Houston IPSAA and owner of PoolMaxx Inc. in Katy, Texas. “At the end of the process, we are confident that we got more out of it than [Corky] did.”
Uberecken references a Biblical proverb as he explains the impact of this project: As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. For him, everything his business is a part of is a reflection of his own name and the legacy. He has four children and wants them to see what he has stood for as a business owner.
“Through this project, I hope that they have learned investing in people holds way more value than making money,” Uberecken says. “I was able to take them over to meet Corky. They each helped brush the pool, clean the skimmer baskets and vacuum. But, more importantly, they hugged her neck and in that moment, I knew they got it. Love wins. Corky will remain a dear friend of our family for years to come.”
Involved in the Cleanup:
Bill Williams, West Houston IPSAA Chapter president, organizer
Scott Evenson owner of Got Leaks donated leak detection services
Garrett Thibodeaux of Stellar Sales donated plaster materials
Jimmy McClean of Natural Chemistry donated start up chemicals
Tile and Coping donated by Noble
Poolworks of Houston (Greg Williams) installed plaster
Baby Pools donated labor for tile and coping.
Hayward provided Tristar VS Omni
Pentair provided TR60 Sand Filter and Mastertemp 250 Heater
Jandy provided 5 valves, a spa blower and MX-8 suction side cleaner
Intermatic supplied a transformer and two valve actuators
W.E.K. and Associates provided Zeo Ruby Sand and deck paint
Jetline provided a multiport valve and many miscellaneous supplies. Daniel Bennett of Jetline was instrumental in procuring many vendor donations as well
J and J donated pool and spa light and controller
SCP: Joey Killingsworth assisted in procuring many donations and SCP supplied many miscellaneous supplies
Monetary donation received from Association of Pool and Spa Professionals local chapter as well as Unified Pool Solutions
Donation of Labor from IPSAA members
Bill Williams: IPSSA West Chapter President, Pool Maxx
Mark Uberecken: Unified Pool Solutions
Christian Alvim: Unified Pool Solutions
Josh Engel: West Houston Chapter
Jose Guijarro: SCP Katy
Bryan Norris: Central IPSSA
Brandon Thompson: Hayward
Dan and Kim Sarver: Prism Pools