People told her it was going to be “just a little water” in Houston. Nothing the fourth- largest city in the country hasn’t seen before.
But the estimated rainfall started at 12 inches. And then it increased to 20 inches. Finally, the prediction went up to 30 inches last week.
Sarah Wiesner, Ottawa University graduate and former Herald employee, works as a digital media specialist for Harris County, which covers all of Houston, Texas. She said even when Hurricane Harvey was said to be only a tropical storm, she had a bad feeling about its strength.
So last Thursday, she packed a backpack with a change of clothes for her and her son, along with diapers for him and a laptop for her, and drove to Dallas to catch a flight to her parents’ home in Phoenix, Arizona.
“A lot of times when people leave, they wait until the last minute and then they get stuck on the highway and it’s gridlocked, so then they run out of gas and they’re just stranded,” Wiesner said. “If you imagine ‘The Walking Dead,’ the cars on the road and they’re all back-to-back, it kind of looks like that. We got out of there as soon as I had that urge to leave. I didn’t want to wait one second because I didn’t want to get stuck in traffic.”
While on her way to Dallas, Wiesner had to wait in line for gas and heard people saying the threat had been upgraded to a Category 3 hurricane.
“It was kind of like the turning point of the storm,” she said.
The New York Times reported Hurricane Harvey landed around Corpus Christi, Texas, Friday night as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 130 miles per hour. The storm later landed around Copano Bay, Texas, as a Category 3 hurricane.
On Facebook, Wiesner said she found a street view video of a man kayaking near the intersection where her apartment is located, and that the area is “completely flooded.”
“I haven’t seen my exact apartment complex,” Wiesner said. “That’s kind of nerve wracking, but I am on the third level, so it’s not as scary. If it is flooded the way the street looks, I feel bad for the people on the first and second floors.”
Since she’s been in Arizona, Wiesner has still been updating the Harris County Precinct 4 Facebook page with news and announcements for residents.
As predicted, the Houston area has seen more than 30 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service Monday afternoon. However, by the end of the week, some places may see up to 50 inches. The New York Times also reported that close to half a million people are expected to seek federal aid. As of Monday afternoon, five deaths and dozens of injuries had been reported.
Wiesner had planned on heading back to Houston yesterday morning, but the rain is expected to continue through Thursday.
“We moved it back to after Labor Day, but even then, it might take awhile for the water to go down,” she said. “I can’t get home right now, so even if I do come back, I’d be stranded outside and not be able to get home.”
Donations to the Red Cross for victims of Harvey can be made by texting HARVEY to 90999. Catholic Charities is also accepting donations by texting CCUSADISASTER to 71777.