The headlines of the local Houston news blared early Friday morning. On August 25, while children around the United States prepared for the new school year, kids in Texas boarded up windows, stored water bottles and dry foods in the attic, and helped their parents in any way they could to prepare for the storm ahead.
Hurricane Harvey was a category 4 hurricane on Friday evening, the eye of the storm containing 130 mph winds. Although the storm made headlines, a lot of Texans didn’t hear about the storm heading their way. Kelly Thai, a high school student who is a resident of Houston, Texas, one of the hardest hit cities, said via email, ‘I didn’t know about Hurricane Harvey until two days before.”
Fatima Karouni, another Houston resident, said that because of the lack of warning, her family had very little time to prepare.
“My mom went to every store and found no water or bread left,” said Thai over email. Thai’s family filled barrels of water and cooked as much rice and pasta as they could. “We unplugged everything the night before landfall and prepared for days of rain,” said Thai.
Thai’s biggest concern during the hurricane was flooding. “I have a lake in my backyard and a small pond as well, and when the city decided to release the water from the dams, I got even more scared,” said Thai.
Tornado warnings frightened Karouni’s family. “We would wake up in the middle of the night to get to the laundry room, which was the safest room in the house,” said Karouni. Luckily, Hurricane Harvey did not affect Thai’s and Karouni’s neighborhoods to the extent that they had to evacuate.
So close to the devastation, both the girls heard many tragic stories. “One of the worst stories I saw was a family’s car got lifted away by the flood waters. While the parents clung to a nearby tree, their six month old baby was unable to saved,” said Thai.
The death toll of Hurricane Harvey exceeded 60, so there were many stories of lost lives. “One of the worst I’ve heard was a car of children and their grandparents, all submerged in water and drowned,” said Karouni.
Both girls have never experienced anything close to the magnitude of Harvey. “The last Hurricane to hit Houston, Hurricane Ike, was in 2008, and since I was only 6 years old, I don’t remember much of that storm,” said Thai. Karouni also hasn’t seen a hurricane at this size either.
They both also agree that the country as a whole has been very forthcoming and generous in supporting the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Fundraisers have helped glue the Houston community back together. “I have seen so many articles and posts giving out ways to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey. I know I’ve seen it on the national news, so I know this storm has not been ignored,” said Thai.
Thai’s school, Alief High School, opened up as a shelter during the hurricane, as did many others. At one point in time, the school had too many volunteers. “In fact, my uncle’s neighborhood donated truckloads of clothing, water, and food to Taylor which sustained them for days,” said Thai.
On August 31, early Thursday morning, Hurricane Harvey entered Louisiana, leaving Houston in devastation. “But when the storm was finally over, nothing could compare to the feeling of seeing the sun peek out from the clouds and seeing the sky blue again,” said Thai.