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Faith, Hope, and Love in the Aftermath of Harvey

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In the aftermath of a storm, you tend to reflect on the moments of uncertainty, fear and hope it brought. Born and raised in Houston, TX, hurricanes have come to be a way of life as the season approaches for this Hill Country reporter. You heed the warnings, you prepare as best you can, and you hope for the best outcome. Although I have seen my fair share of them, this particular hurricane brought on catastrophic devastation like I had never witnessed.

As a kid, Hurricane Alicia was the most impactful storm I had experienced that directly affected my family. I saw the devastation flooding waters create, and like the kids of today, my start of school was delayed for some time as well. Nothing really prepares you for the impending catastrophe a storm like Harvey is capable of bringing on to not just one area, but an entire city and beyond.

Faith Through the Warnings

Channel 13

Photo: Facebook/ABC13 Houston

As I sit here and reflect on the week gone by, it’s hard to believe we were stranded in our home last Monday, August 28th due to surrounding flood waters around my neighborhood.

As I made my rounds to Home Depot for supplies and the grocery store for water and food, it was evident everyone felt the same uneasiness. There were lines waiting to fill up your car at a local gas station. There were folks curving around to the front of the store just waiting to get their limit of three cases of water. At Home Depot, flashlights, batteries and sand bags were out of stock.

On the morning of Friday, August 25th after watching the warnings, and experiencing the first bands of heavy rains pounding our neighborhood, I made a decision to stay in from work as the meteorologist was warning that heavier bands were already starting to move through the area and I didn’t want to take a chance getting stuck coming back home.

This would only be the beginning of the devastation that was about to hit the city I call home and love so much. From this point on nothing but faith and hope that it would be okay brought a sense of calm to my heart.

Hope in the Aftermath

Video: Sonia Ramirez

Band after band of rain came pouring down that evening with no end in sight. You can’t go to sleep as you are watching the water creep up to your back door as you rush to the front only to see it coming up your drive way nearing your cars. This was truly a moment of impact that the reality might be those flood waters were going to make it into my home and we had to prepare ourselves.

Having already stacked items as high as possible all we could do was keep watch and listen to the updates made throughout the newscast. Unfortunately, we lost our internet and TV service, and from Saturday, Aug. 26th through Friday, Sept. 1st we were at the mercy of a radio and Facebook updates.

As the storm bands settled and the rain wasn’t as heavy as we realized, we had survived the devastation of the flood waters as they receded. Getting out in the days following was another story as we were trapped in all corners by surrounding flooded areas, and the catastrophic effects of Harvey were becoming evident. There were cars stalled out in the roads, and water so high you couldn’t drive to check on loved ones.

This was only the cusp of the devastation I was yet to see as I tried to show in the video above of just one neighborhood where we have family living. Unfortunately, the home of a dear man many call Pop, a war veteran, and my daughter’s grandfather, was not spared Harvey’s rage.

Outpouring of Love

National Guard

Photo: Facebook/The National Guard 

In the days following Hurricane Harvey, heartbreaking is the only word that explains the devastation I saw this storm cause to not only family and friends, but thousands of families across the greater area.

Driving into neighborhoods where Harvey showed his furry is unimaginable as you see belongings having to be thrown out, carpets and floors ripped up, and piles upon piles of trash from each home now reeking of mold, dirt, and other toxins Harvey unleashed through its flooding waters. Hearing the rescue helicopters overhead became a norm for a few days as you prayed for those they were going to help. Offering water, food, or supplies to family and strangers just didn’t seem like enough.

The silver lining through this all is the outpouring of love and support from all over the world shining down on our great city. I personally am proud of my friend Mario Segura, an ABC Channel 13 photojournalist who had folks mistakenly put in his news van thinking it was a rescue van, and took the flood victims to safer ground. I am proud of my friend Lisa, owner of a restaurant called the Tilted Kilt Pub, who quietly donated food one evening to the National Guard assisting in helping survivors out of flooded homes. To Ruth Leclere, owner of Central Texas BBQ who opened her doors the day after the storm hit to provide free water and bread to those in need. These along with the countless men and women of the Houston Police Department, Fire Department, the National Guard, and those friends using their boats to rescue neighbors in their own neighborhood. Thank you, doesn’t even begin to say how you touched so many lives.

Lastly, to the thousands of volunteers across the city, the support you gave to hundreds of families in need will never be forgotten. In a time where the country at times seems so divided, Texas showed the world we are #TexasStrong and my city of Houston will rebuild and come back stronger because of the faith, hope, and love that was shown throughout the severity of the storm in the hearts of neighbors helping neighbors get through this one day at a time.