It was a very memorable and sad weekend for those living in Houston. Many residents in the area woke up these past couple days reflecting on Hurricane Harvey. The Category 4 storm hit Texas around this time last year and stayed over the Houston area for four days. It became the second costliest storm to hit land since Katrina, bringing 52 inches of water to Houston. From its flooding, damage, and heavy rainfalls, to its overall impact on America's fourth largest city, the survivors living where it hit share their stories.
Maddie Betts was in her home when the hurricane arrived. She noticed water outside her house.
"When I saw the street flooded, it was waist deep. When night came, it came close to our fence. Then our street and backyard."
Born in Colombia, Bett's was adopted by a family from the United States. She lived in New Jersey for eight years. Then in June 2016, after her mother received a job offer in Houston, Betts and her family moved out there. They have been through Hurricanes before, but never one like Harvey.
After water was slowly making it's way to her Katy Texas house, it was time to evacuate. She was then Jet skied from her residence.
"It was crazy. My mom's co-worker, my dad, and my tiny dog were rescued while my mother was on a boat."
In order to make room for a family on a boat, this was her way to escape the water.
Unfortunately, it wasn't long before the Jet Ski flipped over. This left the 22-year-old to be separated from her family.
"I took four vehicles and waited through waist-deep water to see them."
As an only child, waiting for her parents, she had no way of communicating with them. It was only hours before she ended up at a church, only to be scooped up and sent to a shelter.
"I saw a bunch of animals, lost children, and crying families. If you were one of the people that evacuated from my area, you lost your home."
From there, the Katy resident ended up staying in a hotel and her mother's co-workers places for four months.
"We didn't move back into our house until December 17th."
Despite the heavy rain, it was more than that, that flooded her neighborhood. Near her house, lie the Barker and Addick Reservoirs. In an effort to save Houston, although they weren't supposed to be, without notifying residents, both were released. Water then started coming to homes. Army Corps are now receiving legal action from the state, for doing that.
Betts had no way of knowing what the status of her home was. It wasn't until her neighbor snuck into her neighborhood and took a Snapchat of what a home across the street looked like.
"Police couldn't get out there because there was no way in or out," she recalls.
She later learned that what happened to that house, happened to hers. Like many of the residences, it was flooded with water.
"At that point, water was basically everyone. In the streets, houses, and backyards. Everyone lost their cars. An estimated 800,000 cars were damaged during the storm. Car rental companies were running out of them left and right."
Cars get impacted by the floods during Harvey. Photo by Maddie Betts
After a week passed, people kept questioning her.
"People were reaching out to me, asking when I was returning home. I had to ask people to ship stuff for me."
Another issue Betts faced was FEMA not giving her family enough money compared to The Red Cross.
For Vickie Telschow, the experience was quite similar. Just like Betts, Telschow has been through hurricanes before.
"Prior to Harvey, I had only been through two other hurricanes. Alecia in 1983 and Ike in 2009", She recalled. "The only damage Alecia caused to my family's home was broken power lines and a fallen tree in our backyard. Ike only took some shingles off of our roof."
In the 17 years Telschow has resided in the Houston area, seeing standing water on the street and in her home, was a first.
A flooded street in Vickie Telschow and Maddie Bett's neighborhood by Vickie Telschow
"Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined our city of Katy, TX, to be so submerged and so devastated."
The mother of two was also rescued by boat with her son, husband, and dog. The family decided it was time to evacuate after realizing it was raining nonstop for four days.
"We had been trying to get someone to come for 24 hours. Finally, one of our friends contacted one of her student's dad's who was in the area in his boat rescuing people. He and two friends evacuated my husband, Chris, our 14-year-old son, Maddox, our dog, Snickers, and myself along with what we could put into a few duffle bags."
After being evacuated, water still wasn't in the house. It was only time before the worst came and 16 inches of water entered the family's Katy residence.
"The whole thing was surreal. The fact that I was evacuating on a boat because of flood waters was unreal. I was scared, crying, and in disbelief."
Luckily, despite the flooded streets and heavy rain, the family was able to seek shelter at the mother's friend's house. Then, a week later, Telschow was able to return to the house with her husband, son, and dog. That's when the demo process began.
"We started our demo process on that Labor Day with 4 other friends. Over the course of many days, weeks, and months of daily, all-day working, both by ourselves and with so many sacrificial friends and strangers, as well as numerous contractors, we returned to our house mid-February 2018."
The debris from the Telschow's house after the storm. Photo by Vickie Telschow
Finally, almost six months after the storm, the family was able to live there again.
"God forbid this happens again, there are things that we would do differently but, no one can ever predict how much water will enter a house because the amount of rainfall is so unpredictable."