This picture was taken on a residential street in Orange, TX. a few days ago. It is typical of every street in this particular neighborhood, and dozens of other neighborhoods all across Houston and southeast Texas, after 51 inches of rain fell on them over three days.
I showed the picture to a gentleman from England who occupied the stool next to me at the Hoot County Saloon near the Houston Intercontinental Airport. He asked if the flood did that and I said yes, indirectly. It was actually the homeowners that made the piles that lined the streets, carried piece by piece out of houses and stacked wide and high, so the city can send trucks to haul it all away. There are piles of molding carpet and crumbled sheetrock and planks from wood floors, cabinets and vanities and appliances and mattresses, furniture and tools and sports equipment and children’s toys. I explained how the insides of these houses had been gutted. Walls have been cut just above the level reached by the flood water, in this neighborhood about two feet up. In others it is much higher. Wiring is exposed, underfoot remains only a concrete slab. The gentleman from England said he expected people would be living upstairs for a quite long while. The flaw in his thinking is these are one story houses.
The owner of the house I visited is a coworker in the insurance industry. He gave us a tour of his house, we gave him an envelope with eleven hundred dollars in it, some of it given by people he doesn’t even know. My coworker had flood insurance. He pointed to neighbors on each side of him and across the street who don’t. I heard it said that maybe 20% of the people who had flooded homes in Texas had flood insurance. I wondered how the rest will manage.
To me the task of just getting back to a place where you could have a bed to sleep in and a table to eat at and a chair to watch TV from is so daunting it is almost overwhelming. I don’t know how they will do it, and I worry that some will collapse under the stress of it all in a few weeks, after the volunteers leave and the feelings of goodwill, which are very real right now, have dissipated. I wish you all the best and I hope you get the help you need.
And now it’s off to Florida.