Four days after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Texas, the city is still being pummelled by heavy rainfall and floodwater levels are forecast to rise further.
Irish people living in the city have been sending their experiences of the storm to Irish Times Abroad. To share yours, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ruth Byrne: ‘We are unable to leave our house’
I’m a mum of two girls, aged one and four years old. Right now, we are completely surrounded by water. Our cul-de-sac is on slightly higher ground thankfully, and we have power, but we are unable to leave our house. We have food and necessities to last us a week, but if the power goes and the refrigerator turns off, they will spoil.
We are very lucky; our house is dry, and although we are surrounded by fast moving flood water, we are a few feet above the flood line.
So far we are doing well. Our next-door neighbours are in the same situation, but two streets away the houses are completely under water. Our local pool and recreation centre was a rescue area for displaced families, but I have just learned it is now under water too.
As I write this, my phone is beeping with a flash flood warning for our area. It’s exhausting, and very worrying. Thirty thousand people have been forced from their homes. The airports are shut, and the highway to the airport is now a fast moving river. Any roads going north were flooded within a few hours two nights ago.
My husband is a pilot and he is on vacation time at the moment. I’m glad he is here with us. His colleagues were trapped in the airport and sent him a picture of the runway which had become a river.
The rain and wind is picking up here. My kids are asleep and we are going to try and sleep for a few hours. The flood water is about 400ft away, if the rain gets very heavy we’ll move upstairs and call rescue volunteers.
The rescue volunteers are heroes. Any man with a boat/jetski/rowboat has been working non-stop, putting their lives in danger for fellow Houstonians. Some people have driven from Louisiana with their boats, to save people they don’t know.
The people in this city and county are amazing and I know we’re going to be okay. I will never be negative about Irish weather again.
Edel Howlin: ‘We have enough supplies to get us through the week’
I’m a journalist from Clane, Co Kildare and I live in Pearland, about 20 minutes from Houston’s downtown. I’ve lived in Houston for almost nine years, arriving right after the last bad storm, Hurricane Ike in 2008.
Right now, the situation in Houston is awful. We’ve had major flooding before in 2001 with Tropical Storm Allison, with a flood on Memorial Day in 2015 and with a Tax Day flood in 2016. Harvey has topped them all.
There is water everywhere. Roads, freeways and neighbourhoods are all under water. The area is like a giant lake, about the size of Lake Michigan. People are scared and the city has been overwhelmed by 911 calls. Supermarkets are starting to open but they’re mobbed. Shelters keep opening up to take in evacuees. Rain continues to fall and it looks like the storm will track back this way in the coming days. I’m not sure the city can take any more water. Some reservoirs have to be opened up because they’re so full, and nearby houses have been evacuated.
Texas governor Greg Abbott has activated the entire National Guard to help with search and rescue. That’s what police and emergency responders are working on now, mandatory evacuations. Everyone is being asked to stay in their homes, because getting out in the flood just puts people in danger. Curfews are also in place, so emergency responders don’t have to go out late at night to rescue people.
We have enough supplies to get us through the week, but should it go on any longer we’d need to get out to the local supermarket. When the water gets low enough trucks can get through and neighbours have been offering to help. Our biggest concern is that we’re in a single story home. We’ve been able to go next door, because they’ve got a second floor. If they flood, we’ll be in a 911 situation.
Sean Glynn: ‘My daughter was trapped for 15 hours’
My 9-year old daughter and her mother were trapped for 15 hours on the second floor stairwell of their apartment complex, having been flooded out of their first floor apartment overnight on Saturday. But thanks to the fantastic help and support of my neighbours, they were rescued late yesterday when some friends got them out using a kayak, and brought them back to my house, which has luckily stayed high and dry so far.
I have been away from Houston for the past week visiting New York on business, so personally I am safe and dry, but I’ve been unable to get home to pitch in to help as I would have liked. But I would like to say a big thank you to the many, many Houstonians who are working so hard to look out for each other, and provide help and support to the community, during this disaster.
John Murray: ‘Everyone is very worried’
I live in Texas with my fiancé, just west of the Houston Heights and north of the Galleria area. We are in the flood plain of White Oak Bayou. The heavy rain started last Saturday night and continued into Sunday morning. Our street and backyard flooded and the water got pretty close to our doors, but we are very fortunate that the water didn’t enter the house. Our neighbours opposite had their ground floor and cars flooded. We are on slightly higher ground, and a couple of our neighbours have parked their cars in our drive to save them from the flood.
The water receded Sunday evening but later on, the heavy rain came back and the street flooded very quickly. Yesterday morning the flood waters receded again. This now seems to be the story of our neighbourhood. We have been told via local television news that Tuesday could be very bad; tropical storm Harvey is heading back into the gulf and is due to move towards Houston. Our neighbourhood has been lucky in comparison to many other parts of the city. There have been thousands of rescues, and no telling how many people have lost their homes and everything they own.
I have heard from my friends in the Irish community here and they are all safe and dry, but some colleagues I work with who live in west Houston and the Katy area have been flooded and had to abandon their house. It’s now raining here and with more rain forecast, everyone is very worried about what is going to happen in Houston.