Hurricane Harvey refugee enrolls at U.S. Grant High School

Viviana, a Hurricane Harvey refugee, enrolls in classes at U.S. Grant High School. (KOKH/Emily Collins)

Seeking shelter from Hurricane Harvey, a Houston teen and her mom found themselves in Oklahoma City.

"I wanted to go to Dallas but we didn't know if it was going to hit Dallas too,” said 14-year-old Viviana. “So we just drove and ended up in Oklahoma City."

They arrived on Friday, August 2 with plans to return the following Tuesday. But by then, Harvey's torrential rain had swamped Houston, turning much of the city and Viviana's home into a sea of muddy brown water.

"The drywall is gone, the kitchen is gone, most everything in the basement - like on the ground floor - is gone,” Viviana said.

Overwhelmed and worried for her daughter, Viviana's mom sent an email to Principal Greg Frederick at U.S. Grant High School asking if she could temporarily enroll her there. Counselor Amber Dubuc says they welcomed her with open arms.

"As soon as she came in, I was just taken aback by her presence,” Dubuc said. “She's just such a sweet person and she has this accent and she's from another country and I was like, 'Oh my gosh, the kids here are just going to go crazy for her.'”

Dubuc was right. From day one, Viviana became a favorite among her classmates.

"We don't often meet as many students that have traveled as much as she has and her accent is very unique here and so they've just been very curious and really embracing,” Dubuc said.

As Viviana’s time at U.S. Grant comes to an end, she says her faith in humanity has been restored.

"If there's like anything bad happening, people will always help you,” Viviana said. “And like people are really nice."

Friday was Viviana's last day at U.S. Grant. Viviana and her mom will return to Houston Sunday.

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