I wanted to write about my experience during Harvey as a somewhat recent East Coast transplant never having had to deal with a Hurricane or flooding for that matter. I moved to Houston in September 2014 from Voorhees, NJ to start a career with one of the oil and gas companies in town and settled into the Heights in October 2014 renting a room from a close friend, Richard Knight. My wife and I eventually rented a home in Norhill from February 2015 through April 2106. We lost three of our four family cars during the Memorial Day flooding event on Peddie Street. This was our first experience with this type of weather and it rattled all of us!
Preceding that event my wife and I had been looking to buy a home and after much searching my wife and I finally settled on Oak Forest. We looked in many, many areas all over Houston and the surrounding suburbs. The main concern we had was finding an area least prone to flooding. I can tell you now that I am so glad we settled here in Section 16. Our street held up to the rains Harvey dumped on us and we never even lost power. To say this entire sequence of events did not create serious amounts of high anxiety is an understatement!
Although we were spared, I feel a strong sense of survivors guilt. My wife and I loaded my car on Thursday, August 31 with boots, tools and cleaning supplies prepared to go over to the area on Costa Rica Street, across from Scarborough High School (literally 1/16 mile from my front door) to offer any assistance we could to anyone who needed it. Just as my wife was coming out of the house I received a text message from my old friend and past landlord, Chef Richard Knight, former head chef at the now closed Hunky Dory restaurant. I had contacted him earlier in the week while he was out in his canoe rescuing anyone needing assistance and offered to help him in any way possible. His text message that morning gave me the address for the now known as the Midtown Kitchen Collective. Since that day I have spent five days volunteering there helping prepare meals for those in need. This group of Houston Service Industry folks are amazing! Since they have been there they have been visited by the Washington Post and NPR. They are beginning to wind down their operations, somewhat, and have prepared a written Contingency Plan which they are now sharing with like minded food service industry folks in South Florida so that they can get a head start on Irma.
This has given me a sense of community in times as difficult as these. I know there are many stories like mine but I felt compelled to reach out and let you know that this community is strong and we will rebuild our city, no matter how long it takes.
Oak Forest Resident