Reflections On Harvey’s ‘Most Uncertain Moments’ Get To The Heart Of The Hurricane’s Impact

Some who experienced Harvey feared for their lives, while others tried to rescue livestock and help other survivors navigate a chaotic situation.

By Joy Diaz and Michael MarksAugust 24, 2018 12:53 pm, , ,

Words cannot fully paint the picture of the devastation after Hurricane Harvey. For those not directly hit by the storm, our frame of reference comes from what reporters broadcasted on TV and wrote online. We heard things like,”It looked like a war zone,” but somehow that seemed like a trite shorthand to sum up an event that affected thousands of people in different ways. And some of them are still recovering a year later.

A lot of rebuilding is still going on – the cleanup effort over the past year has been significant. Things look much better than they did, of course, and people have largely recovered in various senses of the word. But to really get at the heart of the trauma of of Hurricane Harvey, we decided to ask one question: What was your most uncertain moment?

“My most uncertain moment was the lack of communication. When we first started out at one shelter and consolidated all the shelters…[it] was difficult for me to experience, to see, the families going through it. Not understanding why many of them were being relocated from one place to another facility….A lot of the families had a lot of apprehension….Police are there to protect us but I don’t think that that was effectively communicated to people who spoke different languages.”

– Michelle Hicks, Brazoria

“When I was in Danbury at the place that I had evacuated to, the rain never stopped over there, and I thought, ‘Oh great, I’ll die in Danbury rather than Rosharon’….I really wasn’t sure.”

–Chelsea Ortiz, Brazoria

“When Harvey [was] over here, we come in right here [and] try [to] rescue my cow, and the tractor can’t bring it out. My tractor [was] full of water, the Brazos river right there, the Brazos River [broke] right there on the bridge and all water [came] this way. Police give me only 15 minute[s]…”

– Ovidio Barrientos, outside East Columbia

“My husband and my family decided they wanted to stay. It was just, uh, real, kind of creepy. I’ve never been in something like that. I’ve been in blizzards and whiteouts ’cause I’m from Michigan. It was basically just two weeks of dead silence everywhere.”

– Dinah Weil, Rosharon

“It was weeks and weeks. Our next door neighbor, I mean, they’re still sleeping on pallets on their garage floor right now, and that’s directly across the street from me. i don’t call it luck…God couldn’t let everybody get completely devastated ’cause then who would be there to help the other people?”

– Maribel Canizales, Austin


Written by Caroline Covington.