The long clean-up process continues for those affected by Category 4 Hurricane Harvey after it hit the Texas shore four miles east of Rockport with winds reaching up to 130 miles, on Friday, Aug. 25, at 9:45 p.m. It retreated only to return and hit land once again at midnight as a Category 3, at the northeastern shore of Copano Bay.
Hurricane Harvey brought record amounts of rain to other areas, dumping more water than Hurricane Katrina, Sandy and Andrew combined. Over 50 inches of rain accumulated in the state of Texas, and Governor Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster in 54 counties (gov.Te
xas.gov). Many people found themselves stranded on the roofs of their homes, and had to be rescued by boat. The death toll for Harvey has reached at least 70, and now Hurricane Irma has added to the nation’s death toll, as at least 15 have died in Florida.
Senior public relations major Lynsey May, who is from Kingwood, Texas, said that her family was forced to evacuate due to the rising waters. Although the waters have now receded, when we spoke with May last Monday, water levels in her home were still rising.
“The water has reached the inside of my house that is seven feet off the ground,” she said. “It has affected my family’s business and forced us not only to evacuate ourselves but our 29 horses as well.”
May worried that her home would not be there when the waters finally receded.
“We laid every brick of our barn. We danced on the floors of our house when we were building it. The memories will always be there, but the actual place that I call home might not be there.”
Senior public relations major Paige Mareth, who is from Victoria, Texas, said that her parents chose to remain at her childhood home and weather the storm.
“They’re without water and electricity and it may be that way for a while,” she said on Monday, Aug. 28.
Mareth said that although it’s been an emotional week, she is thankful that her home sustained minimal damage.
“Not everyone else in my little city was as fortunate, and that’s hard to know,” she said.
Evacuees began arriving in Bell County from Brazoria County early Monday, Aug. 28.
They were first transported to the Expo Center, where they were given dry clothes and shoes, and then taken to shelters that had been set up around Bell County. Vista Community Church took over the process of receiving donations.
Volunteer Coordinator for Bell County, Lacey Dove, said that it was truly humbling to see the evacuees arriving Monday.
“I saw volunteers take shoes off their own feet to give to people who didn’t have shoes this morning,” Dove said. “There was an evacuee who came in without pants because there was someone worse off than him who didn’t have pants.”
Although the waters have now receded and evacuees are returning to their homes, there is a long clean-up process ahead for the 54 counties affected by the hurricane.
Junior marketing major, Sarah Harvey, drove to Southeast Texas during Labor Day weekend to help with relief efforts. She stayed in the Port Arthur, Groves, Beaumont, Nederland, and Port Neches areas.
S. Harvey took with her donations that UMHB students gave to help Hurricane Harvey victims.
“The Lord provided in amazing ways through UMHB students,” she said. “I was given funds to buy supplies and others directly donated supplies to fill up my Ford Escape. These supplies included cleaning supplies, water bottles, bread, cardboard boxes, milk, snacks and toiletries for first responders, and other small but meaningful items.”
In Port Neches, S. Harvey’s hometown, she helped her church, First Baptist Port Neches, which was housing first responders. She also spent her afternoons gutting houses that had been flooded.
“Gutting, for us included throwing out furniture, pulling out carpet and flooring, tearing out sheetrock and insulation,” she said. “It was a tough weekend, but I was glad to be there for my community.”
S. Harvey believes that the area will take years to recover from Hurricane Harvey.
“The damage is unimaginable,” she said. “The effects of Harvey will be long-lasting. Harvey isn’t the first hurricane to ever destroy our area, but it’s definitely the worst. I can only imagine it’ll take twice as long.”