I survived hurricane harvey
Ever since Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, the city of Houston and its people have experienced the unimaginable. When looking at an aerial image, it does not take long to realize the scale of the catastrophic events that unfolded. Streets turned into rivers, heads battled to stay above water, people searched endlessly for lives to save, and winds had no intention of backing down. Everything those people had, everything they built their lives around, was suddenly gone.
It’s hard to know exactly what the tragic experience entailed, but that’s where former Apex High School student, Benjamin Greaves, comes in. Greaves attended Apex High School for his freshman year before he moved to the Houston area. Greaves gave The Legacy his first-hand experience of life during that devastating time.
Q: What was the dynamic of your town when word of this hurricane got out?
A: At first there wasn’t much concern because it was projected to be a tropical storm. It quickly upgraded to a hurricane, so everyone rushed to stock up on supplies. The grocery store was packed because everyone went to get food at the same time. It was the same with the gas stations because everyone wanted to fill up before the storm hit. Traffic and the lines were really bad. People were worried mainly because the storm upgraded so quickly, and they weren’t sure what to expect.
Q: What kind of precautions did you have to take? How did you prepare for the storm?
A: As soon as it was announced to be a hurricane on Thursday, they cancelled school on Friday so that “families could prepare for the hurricane.” We made sure all of our phones were charged and filled the gas tanks in all of the cars. We also bought plenty of bottled water and bags of ice for the fridge. In case we lost clean water, we cleaned both bathtubs and then filled them with water so we’d have clean tap water in reserve (for dishes and stuff).
Q: What was the timeline of events in your area? What happened as the storm got closer?
A: On Thursday everyone was nervous at school because it was supposed to hit us as a hurricane. Right before school ended, it was announced that Harvey was now a category one. A couple hours later, it was a category four. It wasn’t until Saturday evening that it rained hard and consistently. There were a lot of tornado warnings throughout the day, and it was really windy outside.
The damage to Houston and where I live started happening on Sunday. By the time the center of Harvey had reached Houston, it was a tropical storm. For a little more than two days, the storm hovered over Houston, barely moving and dumping massive amounts of rain. Compared to Apex, the Houston area is very flat. There aren’t a lot of hills, so it’s easy for water to build up.
Most of the rivers, lakes, and bayous began overflowing, and people began to evacuate. The rain was really severe, but it wasn’t until Monday that things started to get bad where I live.
The water levels kept rising all day Monday. My whole street was flooded and must have been around three feet deep. Luckily, the flooding stopped rising around midnight.
On Tuesday the water began draining pretty quickly. I think around ten houses in my neighborhood flooded.
Q: What was the craziest part of the experience?
A: One of the craziest moments was when the National Guard drove down my street. They were in a high water truck and were offering to evacuate anyone who was in an emergency situation. The sheriff drove by in a truck and gave out water to different families. Military helicopters and cargo planes were flying low across the sky for most of Monday. Specialty search and rescue divers came to our neighborhood and asked if anyone needed help.
Q: How did this storm impact your everyday life? What changed, and how did you adjust?
A: We lost power for about three days. It was bearable at first, but it quickly got hot and humid as our house acclimated to the weather outside. We didn’t eat any of the refrigerated food because we didn’t want to waste the cold air still trapped inside. We lost clean water for about a two days. No power meant no wireless, so we had to rely on our cell service. This didn’t last long because the Sprint tower that covers our area was disabled. Had there been an emergency, we wouldn’t have been able to call anyone. We mainly ate canned food and played board/card games to pass the time.
Q: What was your takeaway?
A: The biggest takeaway for me was experiencing what hurricanes are really like. Initially, I was excited to miss some school, but I quickly realized how serious the storm was. You can’t go anywhere. Even though I missed a week of school, there wasn’t much to do, and it was uncomfortable without power.
It’s no secret that Harvey was a disaster, and one of the biggest things these people need now is hope. The economic stability of the city is not in a good place as millions of dollars are needed in repairs. Many have lost homes, cars, and other belongings. So how can Apex High School contribute to the relief efforts of Hurricane Harvey? Donate!
American Red Cross: You can donate online. Also, you could text HARVEY to 90999 to make $10 donations.
The Salvation Army: The Salvation Army is taking donations online.
GoFundMe: Visit the specific Hurricane Harvey page for fundraising related to the storm.
Donate to the schools:
Houston serves one of the largest public school systems in the United States, which holds about 215,000 students. Many schools have lost everything. The Houston Independent School District is collecting donations of new and unused clothing, school supplies, canned food, and water. Your donation can be shipped to “HISD Harvey Donations” at Delmar Fieldhouse, 2020 Mangum Road, Houston, Texas, 77092. In addition, donations can be made online.