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Under Water

Hurricane Harvey's devastation of Houston and the Gulf Coast hits close to home for many in the school community.

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The whistle of the angry winds creeps through the windows of your home. Looking at the front door, water begins to seep in. Each second scarier than the last, you run upstairs to gather your most cherished possession: the blanket that your mom knit just for you. By the time you are back on the first floor you’re ankle deep in water. Panic sets in. Opening the front door to escape, you hear the cry of your dog — how could you forget?

With the dog on your shoulders, you wade through the ever-rising waters. The rain falling, drop after heavy drop hits your blanket, soaking its delicate surface. With only half your body above the water, you begin to tire. A rescue boat pulls you aboard. Floating away, you face what used to be your house. The place where you took your first steps, had your birthday parties, the only house you ever loved, is under water. Nobody thought it would be this bad. If only you had known to get out.

For the nearly three million people in South Texas, the reality of Hurricane Harvey is all but unbearable. The monster storm, which swept ashore south of Houston near Port Aransas, TX, last Friday night as a category four hurricane, unleashed what is being called a 1,000-year flood on the Houston region, leaving the fourth largest city in the United States under water and its residents scrambling for shelter.

Sophomore Madison Guthrie opens her front door after a long day of school, surrounded by the voices of 10 family friends and the barks of three dogs that are not hers. Ever since Madison was little, she has had occasional visits with these out-of-town friends, but this visit is not a happy or intentional one. Gathered around the television, the news shares images of flooded homes, destroyed businesses and streets buried in water. Madison’s family friend leans in towards the TV. The street in front of her child’s school — a river. Her neighborhood — a lake. Removed from her city, and learning of the true destruction, she can’t help but cry. All of the houses are destroyed. Familiar places where she lived her life were frozen in time amidst the water.

Thursday, September 24, 2017. “That was the day we knew it was going to be much worse,” said Michael Brennan, Branch Chief at the National Hurricane Center. What was a tropical storm became a category four hurricane just before it hit Friday night. With the rainfall reaching an unprecedented 51.88 inches, nearly the entire city of Houston remains veiled underneath a blanket of water. CNN reports 27 trillion gallons of rain fell along the coast over the last week.

The hurricane and its floods took the lives of 47 recorded victims. An estimated 70 percent of Houston’s land mass is said to be submerged underwater. According to Fox News, as misplaced citizens attempt to find help, a record number of more than 100,000 calls have been made to Houston’s emergency call centers.

Hurricane Harvey may have been centered in the Houston area, but its effects are far-reaching. Many families in the school community are connected to its victims. Junior Payton Crawford has family that lives in Houston. Evacuated to the Woodlands, they sat, waiting to hear what had become of their home, now a total loss.

Family rescued by boat in Houston.

Freshman Isaiah Thompson said, “Luckily, my uncle’s house wasn’t completely destroyed by the hurricane. He is safe because he evacuated right before it hit. Hopefully he will be able to recover quickly.”

Junior Madeleine Rhodes has a family friend whose dad is a doctor at a Houston hospital. He had to work Friday through Tuesday to help repair the lives of those harmed by Harvey.

Freshman Kate Follett’s cousins evacuated to a ranch north of Houston in order to ride out the storm, but were relieved to find out that their house had been spared destruction.

Freshman Kori Brown’s Houston family decided not to evacuate. She said, “They didn’t think it would be nearly as bad as it is. I think they were misinformed about the intensity of the whole thing.” Though her family is safe, they are upset over the loss of family heirlooms. Many hearts in the halls of this school are hurting for victims in south Texas, especially those with close friends and family that have been harmed by this massive storm.

Her phone buzzing, History teacher Mrs. Kayla Wiede rushes over to check it. It’s a text from her aunt – “We are all ok.”  She has 25 family members that live in her hometown, Pine Forest, TX, just outside of Houston. With the news of the disaster, she has been anxious to know of her family’s well-being. They all sit in the shelters, trying to cope with the reality of what happened. Mrs. Wiede gets small updates from her family. One text reveals that her childhood house is gone. Another, her grandparent’s house. The six local schools and four churches in Pine Forest are all destroyed.

photo by Avery Powell
Trailers lined the church parking lot collecting essentials for those on the Gulf Coast.

It’s increasingly hard for Harvey victims to cope with the reality of the situation. Mrs. Wiede’s brother expressed his concern in a text. He wrote, “How are we going to practice for the game on Friday?” When tragedy hits, many long for the routine of a normal Friday night football game and trips to the local coffee shop. However, for those in Harvey’s path, there will be no normalcy for quite a while. She longs only to reunite with her family, but there are hundreds of miles and logistical barriers that separate them. No power, no drinking water, no homes, the Hurricane Harvey victims call out to the nation and the world for help. Who will hear them?

photo by Meg Miller
Students brought diapers and other donations to school for the Hurricane victims.

Here in North Texas, residents strive to help in whatever way possible. Please do whatever is possible, as the city of Houston is in an unprecedented state of need.

Prestonwood has teamed up with Grace Bridge to collect supplies for victims. Trailers located in the parking lot near the Missions Building are accepting blankets, toiletries and hygiene products, cleaning supplies, diapers, wipes, formula and bottles. More opportunities can be found at: www.prestonwood.org

The Dallas Morning News also has an ongoing list of ways to help and donate which will stay updated. The link to their site is: https://www.dallasnews.com/news/harvey/2017/08/25/hurricane-harvey-north-texans-can-help

Galatians 5:13 states, “Do not use your blessing as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Let’s use this tragedy to grow as followers of Christ as we serve victims of Hurricane Harvey with a selfless heart and prayerful mind.

 

 

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