Houston Post-Harvey

Around one o’clock on Tuesday, August 29th, 2017, Hurricane Harvey hit the United States’ fifth largest city. Houston was not prepared for the endless days to come of flooding and the months of rebuilding that followed. Four months later, the city still has much work to do; however, it is said that the hurricane has made the Houston community much stronger and more united than before.

The tropical cyclone came into the Houston metropolitan area around one pm. The category four hurricane lasted for several days, causing the city of Houston to suffer from major flooding in many neighborhoods. Boats were being used to rescue families and their belongings from their flooded homes. Audrey Hudson says, “I was on an island for a good four days when I couldn’t go anywhere.” Her home was not flooded, but the water levels in the streets were so high she could not leave until they lowered.

The citizens of Houston had made it through the hurricane. The people began to clean up their homes, process the damage, and start to strategize their recovery plans. The one thing that they did not plan on was more water. The Houston area has a network of flood gates to help prevent too much flooding in situations such as Hurricane Ike in 2008 and Hurricane Rita in 2005. These floodgates, however, may have made the situation worse during Hurricane Harvey. The intensity level of Harvey was so great that these floodgates were having to hold more than their capacity and ran a high risk of breaking and potentially causing a much more massive amount of damage to the city. Therefore, the city officials came to the conclusion that the floodgates should be opened so that more flooding will occur, but the chance of enormous amounts of flooding did not. So, on Sunday morning the people of Houston experienced a wave of more water in specific parts of the city. This caused the bayou to overflow and water levels in a couple of areas to rise to 40 inches. Regina Gonzales says, “all of the houses that were starting to recover would get damaged again,” while Calista Schneidau says, “I was concerned for everyone around the gates.”

After the floodgates were opened, Houston had a tremendous amount of work ahead of them in the coming weeks. To repair the damage in the Houston area alone it would cost about 125 billion dollars, let alone the rest of Texas, Louisiana, and other countries in the Caribbean that had suffered through major damage. Audrey Hudson also said, “I go to school downtown, and right after Harvey the damage was horrifying. Companies, restaurants, and churches had been destroyed. There were huge dumpsters everywhere you saw. It took us three hours to do a 30-minute drive the Monday after.” Even over the holidays, dumpsters were still in people’s front yards, and damaged buildings were still untouched. Emma Bass tells us how her school helped victims not only from the school, but from outside the school community as well, stating that “they were extremely understanding about the students who were still recovering from the hurricane.” Bass’s family, after Harvey, had a family of four live with them for a month while they could rebuild their own home. Bass also says that she still knows of people not living in their homes four months later because damage was so extreme. Families, such as the Bass family, showed their true kindness to their neighbors, peers, and even strangers for the following months to come.

On Christmas day, the Houston Texans played the Pittsburgh Steelers in a football game at NRG Stadium in Houston. The crowd cheered louder when JJ Watt came onto the field than when the Texans made their one touchdown. The Houston and Steelers fans of Houston all cheered with enormous enthusiasm because JJ Watt had spent the last several months helping to raise money for their damaged city. The defensive end for the Texans raised over 37 million dollars for his city. The Houston community is extremely grateful for all of the lives he has helped to rebuild. Several days after Hurricane Harvey hit, a telethon that lasted about as long as the hurricane was held to help raise money. A-list people such as  Nicki Minaj, Drake, Sean Diddy, Lupita Nyong’o, Stephen Colbert, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Oprah, Cher, Stevie Wonder, and Justin Bieber, helped to earn forty four million dollars for the Houston area. In addition, thirty-seven million dollars was earned through the website youcaring.com. Not to mention, the gofundme.com website helped and is still helping to raise money for dozens of different campaigns such as damaged building, abandoned animals, and homeless families.

Hurricane Harvey caused a tremendous disaster up and down the Gulf of Mexico, but as seen in the aftermath in Houston, people in their communities started to help each other out. Audrey Hudson says, “I really loved seeing how the Houston community came together to lift each other up during such a terrible time.” The unity inspired the rest of the country to start movements and donate money to help lift up their fellow Americans. While the damage was horrific, the progress in the past four months has been outstanding; however, there is still work to be done in Houston, and everyone can help.