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Saturday 16 December 2017
Regional

Trini in Houston ‘a little worried’ about Harvey

Overflowing lakes: Trinidad national, Stacy Ann, along with her husband and two young children (latter three seen in this photo) took a walk on Saturday to check out overlfowing lakes in their Houston, Texas neighbourhood following Hurricane Harvey; downgraded on August 26 to a Tropical Storm. PHOTO COURTESY STACY ANN.

SASHA HARRINANAN

Hurricane Harvey may have been downgraded to a tropical storm on Saturday but residents of Houston, Texas are still feeling its effects, with more than two feet of rain in 24 hours, tornadoes in some areas and untold numbers of homes damaged or destroyed.

More than 6.5 million people call Houston home. Among them are Trinidadian national, Stacy Ann and Australian national, Nicole Flockton, both of whom spoke with Newsday today about how their families have been coping.

Stacy Ann lives in Fulshear while Flockton's home is located about half hour's drive away in what's known as the 'Energy Corridor' of Houston.

The streets in her neighbourhood hadn't flooded as of this afternoon but the retention ponds and lakes in the area were either full or overflowing.

"Rain has been steady since Friday night. Flooding will get worse over the next few days, as retention ponds are filled."

Asked if she was concerned about what might happen, given the forecast for more rain over the next few days, Stacy Ann said she was "a little worried."

"Our neighbourhood has lots of lakes, so we could take water but this is a lot and our lakes are filling up...If the rain doesn't stop and let it drain off, we could see water coming up on our street and maybe even our driveway. Our house is high up on the street but if it rains for three more days, as predicted, anything is fair game."

Given that her daughter, Sophia, is five-years-old while her son, Adam, is two-years-old, Stacy Ann said her children have had different reactions to the change in routine; particularly the need to seek shelter during tornado warnings.

"Adam couldn't care two hoots. Sophia is more aware and just scared of the tornadoes. Tornadoes are scary. You can't see them and the warnings are constant, so you don't know where they'll come from, it at all."

During the tornado warnings; one was issued shortly before 2 pm today while Stacy Ann was talking to Newsday, the family has huddled together in a closet in a bedroom on the ground floor of their home.

"It's small but the strongest part of the house, (so) that's where we wait out the tornadoes."

Asked how she's tried to keep Sophia calm, Stacy Ann told Newsday that because her daughter gets to sleep with mom and dad during Harvey's passage, "She is in heaven right now."

Stacy Ann expressed sorrow that while her family is OK, so far, "Families in Simonton; a few miles from here, have to evacuate. What is sad is, some of them lost their homes two years ago and had just rebuilt. So sad."

Thankful for being spared, Stacy Ann said she and husband, Adam, "were planning to go help people in other neighbourhoods who need to pack up their stuff quickly" but by 4.30 pm today, the rain was "pouring down" again and the roads leading out of their community had flooded. So the couple were forced to stay put.

Today, many schools in Houston announced the cancellation of classes for all of this week. The Katy Independent School District (KISD) was among the school systems which decided to do so.

Stacy Ann's children go to schools within the KISD.

Referring to the announcement made early this afternoon, she said, "I have a sitter lined up, so I can work from home or at the office if I need to go in."

Over in the 'Energy Corridor', Flockton expressed relief that her home and neighbourhood had been spared the worst, so far, from Harvey's passage.

"We are in a good area, fortunately. We also didn't have tornadoes touch down near us," Flockton told Newsday.

During a break in the rains this morning, Flockton and her husband, Jason Flockton, donned boots and took a walk through their neighbourhood and out to Westheimer Road, a main east-west road in Houston, Texas.

"Our street's drainage is doing a BRILLIANT job," Flockton wrote on her Facebook page.

"When we started out the rain was heavy and there was pooling but the drains were gulping down the water. There was water up to the top on a couple of the drains but water was still flowing. The four-way intersection has puddles but was clear. As we headed down toward one of the main roads, Westheimer, there was puddling that got deeper as we walked toward the road."

"Westheimer is higher than the road we were walking on, so the pooling was deeper. Close to the curb in one section the water came up to mid calf on my 'wellies' (boots). As we walked back home, the rain was lighter and the drains that were close to the brim when we headed out, were clear and flowing well. Saying prayers for those who aren't as fortunate as we are," Flockton wrote.

Speaking with Newsday a few hours later, Flockton revealed that she "was concerned and worried" when Harvey made landfall on Friday night.

About 24 hours later, when their area was placed under tornado watch, Flockton said she "kept checking outside to see if I could 'hear' anything. I also tried to stay calm so kids didn't get freaked out."

Flockton has a fifteen-year-old daughter, Skylar, and a thirteen-year-old son, Zane. Their schools will also be closed this week while Houston begins clean up and recovery from Harvey.

"Zane seems more concerned than Skylar. Both obviously excited about no school. Jason's work is closed on Monday. Don't know if it will be for longer," Flockton said.

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