Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey water damage. National Weather Service

By James Williford, Santa Clarita Valley Native


Hurricane Harvey affected many people in the Southeast region of Texas. When it is seen on the news it is hard to imagine how the people within the influence of the storm are managing and rebuilding. They seem a world away from California, yet close enough to your hearts to feel so much empathy for them.

Chelsea and I left Santa Clarita and moved out to Texas three years ago, so that Chelsea could  pursue a degree in Nursing from the prestigious Joanne Gay Dishman Nursing Program at Lamar University in Beaumont, TX. Ready and excited to start her final semester at Lamar, Hurricane Harvey hit our small town of Orange, TX in the early hours of the morning, creating havoc and confusion among the town’s residents. Power ceased, winds were high, rains were extreme, and flooding was imminent.

We had no choice but to watch the flood waters in our house rise and destroy everything that we had worked so hard for. We had to wait 4 hours for a rescue from the Cajun Navy in an aluminum boat, manned by a kind-hearted stranger from Louisiana. The scene was surreal. The streets we had become familiar with, the running trails, our vehicles, our neighbor’s gardens, were all under water. The boat led us away from our destroyed truck, furniture, electronics, school supplies, photos, and other personal belongings. We realized that all of those were material possessions that could be replaced, yet our lives were the most important things to keep safe.

Our saviors dropped us off at one of the boat launch areas, which was just an elevated parking lot on the main road of the town. Watching at least a hundred boats run up and down the street with survivors, added to the almost apocalyptic setting post-Harvey. Through all the devastation, we realized that there was no reason for these people to help them and other residents of Orange, other than the kindness of their hearts.

In the aftermath of everything, there has been a need to rebuild. A family member has sent a GoFundMe account where we are very active in rebuilding all that we have lost. Chelsea and I are wanting to rebuild quickly with the hope to help others that were affected by the flooding as well. If you want to donate directly to someone in need, follow the link below. It speaks of our story and of our hopes for the future, and how we are amazed by the love and compassion from our friends and family 1,700 miles away.


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