In August of 2017 Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston area with its overwhelming rains. Many are asking what Harvey will mean for Houston’s economy and real estate markets over the long term. CDS has had and will continue to have opportunities to consider these questions in our work. First though, we want to revisit the storm and share our team's stories from Harvey’s onslaught and aftermath.
I was at our rural second home outside Brenham, where we rode out the storm. It hit the coast Friday night, then moved up our way by Saturday and especially on Sunday, when there was enough rainfall for the creek that runs through our property to leave its banks. Fortunately, damage in that part of Texas was relatively minimal; by Monday things were already getting back to normal and we didn’t find any significant impacts to that property. I had figured that I would be able to get back to my normal work life in Houston by Monday evening at the latest.
However, the worst-case rainfall scenario actually occurred, and roads were impassable everywhere between Brenham and the west side of Houston. So, I was stuck. I kept track of the local news on television and Internet, and it became quite nerve-wracking once the magnitude of the release from the dams became apparent. Not only had I received word of the disastrous impact on my co-workers and my sister in League City (her home took on several inches of water over several hours), my aged parents were close of the Buffalo Bayou inundation zone. I would not return to Houston until Thursday, and then only via a circuitous route to avoid closed roads and the traffic-choked Grand Parkway through Katy. Fortunately, my parents’ home didn’t suffer any damage, but I had to find food for them as they couldn’t handle standing in the long lines at area grocery stores, and travel in our part of Houston was also very limited because of street closures.
All in all, it was a basically terrible time; the loss of my co-workers’ homes, the lost time for work activity, and the general suffering of Houston and its citizens. I am just grateful that I didn’t suffer any direct damage personally.
Linda and I returned from vacation early thinking the approaching hurricane might cause Bush airport to close. We returned to torrential rains and quickly became trapped in our home as streets flooded. When the Corps released the reservoirs the house was quickly flooded. We were rescued by boat, moved in with our son and were homeless and without wheels. We sold our home and bought a new one. I missed a couple weeks of work in the process.
Although losing a home, automobiles, and furnishings overnight was a traumatic happening, the flood insurance money allowed us to sell the home in an “as is” condition and quickly buy a new home. One of the first things we did after moving to our new home was to purchase flood insurance. I strongly suggest that every homeowner in the Houston area do the same.
Harvey did not impact our home or my family, thank God. It did give several sleepless nights worrying about my daughter and her husband and our 2 month old grandson as she stayed in contact telling me how high the water was rising on her street. When they moved everything upstairs that they could, I got really worried. My husband and I tried to drive to them but the water surrounding their neighborhood was too high. Thankfully, the water finally resided and only got up to their garage door. Unfortunately two homes next to them were flooded.
As far as work, flood waters surrounded the building for weeks making it impassable. We were faced with no electricity for another week. The buildings elevators remained inoperable for about a month. Needless to say, four flights of stairs or 88 steps became a chore!
Harvey was, unfortunately, quite a difficult experience for me. I was living in an apartment complex right along Buffalo Bayou, quite close to the CDS offices on Dairy Ashford. I woke up on the morning of Sunday, August 27th to find the parking lot of the complex completely flooded, at least ankle-deep across its entirety. Fearing a flooded car, I drove through the high water and left it on the 2nd floor of the parking garage at the CDS offices. The water in the parking lot went down that afternoon, giving hope that the worst was over, only to rise back up even higher as torrential rains Sunday evening and through the night prompted increasing releases from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs. Water continued to rise on Monday, with a strong current from the nearby bayou making wading or floating to higher ground a dangerous proposition. I spent much of the day moving as many of my belongings as I could off of the ground. Power went out on Monday evening and, with floodwaters still about a foot short of inundating my first floor unit, I spent that night at a neighbor’s apartment on the second floor. The Coast Guard floated in on Tuesday afternoon and recommended that everyone evacuate. It took two trips by motor boat to reach unflooded ground.
Being a native New Orleanian, I believe I may be naturally more in tune with hurricane events than the average person. On Wednesday August 23, 2017 before the storm I began to naturally (consciously and unconsciously) prepare myself mentally, physically and emotionally for the potential inundation of the entire city and lose of everything myself and everyone else had. I mean it had happened to myself and my city once before so like I said, it was just natural that I was consciously and unconsciously preparing for what I had already seen and experienced once before. I sent a link to a few co workers from pivotal weather dot com citing that some parts around Houston could have a total accumulation of up to 45 inches.
Very early Monday morning the water on my walk to the bayou became knee deep and was getting darker (all professional flood/hurricane victims know when its clear, its just rain water, when its brown, its probably not a good thing). Several neighborhoods and apartment complexes around us began taking on water and began evacuations through the day Monday and into Tuesday and Wednesday. The street in front of my apartment became a staging area and boat launch for official and un-official boat rescue operations.
I am grateful that myself and my family did not experience any loss whatsoever. The whole area finally lost electricity on Thursday and I had to track down a police officer to figure out how to get to my mother’s house in Atascocita. The police told me the only way out is east on Westheimer to 610 and then 610 to 59. It took about 5 hours to drive from the apartment to Atascocita (about a 45 mile drive). I stayed in Atascocita for two weeks until electricity to our office building and apartment complex on Dairy Ashford was finally restored and returned home Saturday evening September 16, 2017.
I live in Oakhurst the area of Kingwood on the east side of Highway 59. We moved into the house about a year before Harvey and the area, at least for us, was untested for a flood. We were lucky and had no water problems at all and didn’t even lose power, even being only 1.5 miles from the San Jacinto River. We were isolated though (could only go north on Highway 59) and were not even able to check on our business which is close to Lake Houston. Fortunately that was fine as well, just lost two weeks of business revenue. I was finally able to log into the CDS computers after about two weeks and get some work completed.