Brian Fillingim, or “Tejas” as he’s known by most, had lived comfortably in Lakeview, near Vidor, for over 30 years. Now, the 72 year-old artist and Vietnam veteran is just getting by after 10 feet of water destroyed his home during Harvey.
“I’ve sold to Willie Nelson, Charlie Daniels,” said Fillingim. “I worked for George Jones for a while. I was comfortably numb until August of ‘17.”
He suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD, stemming from his time served in Vietnam. The flooding has definitely set him back. He received about sixteen hundred dollars from FEMA, but that paired with government assistance isn’t enough.
“I can live comfortably, but I can’t build a house,” said Fillingim.
Now it’s back to what he knows best, selling his artwork.
“ (I do) Western, Native American,” said Fillingim. “I do a lot of hunting scenes or river scenes.”
He also may return to doing guided river tours. Which he used as a way to help himself and others treat PTSD.
“When you’re back there, you tend to forget everything else,” said Fillingim. “So you get the endorphin flow going on and you gotta feel better.”
He knows living on the river is a risk, but this former Aviation Structural Mechanic in the Navy says it's worth it.
“It’d hard to explain to people, but if you live on the river, it’s a lifestyle, and you’re not going to leave,” said Fillingim. “Not voluntarily. I mean I’m not. I’ve lived here too long.”
So he will press on. Hopefully one day getting back into the place he calls home
“I withstood the weather and this is just a minor inconvenience,” said Fillingim with a shrug. “It too shall pass.”