Hurricane affects Decatur residents

Hurricane Harvey, which has devastated Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, has produced 51.88 inches of rain, displaced 42,399 people and cost $125 billion in damage (ABC News). This category 4 hurricane first hit Aransas County, located on the Gulf of Mexico, on August 25, 2017.

After leaving a destructive path in its wake, the helplessness friends and family feel outside of the hurricane zone is tremendous. Two Decatur residents express their concerns.

“I’ve just kind of had to keep constant contact and make sure he’s okay,” Jennifer Gonzalez, a social studies teacher at Decatur, said.

Gonzalez is referring to her father, who still lives in Texas. Because of the frequent (but usually small) hurricanes and tornadoes that take place in Texas, Gonzalez was paying attention to the news the minute she heard a storm coming. She figured that flooding would affect her father’s community, but fortunately, he was alright.

However, Gonzalez never thought that her high school, Kingwood, would flood.

“The dams had never broken, the bridges had never been overrun, nothing like that has happened,” Gonzalez said.

As if one flooding wasn’t enough, Gonzalez’s middle school and entire community flooded soon after.

“I started seeing videos of the town flooding, which was mind-boggling,” she said, “I did [emotionally] okay, until I saw the book room, and all the books.”

Hurricane Harvey destroyed two book rooms in Kingwood High School. Photo courtesy of Humble ISD Texas’s Youtube channel.
Photos courtesy of Humble ISD Texas’s Youtube channel.

Mary Goodwin, Texas native and Decatur resident, had been tracking Hurricane Harvey since its beginning as well. Although her parents moved from Texas to Decatur a few years ago, Goodwin still has many cousins in the Houston area.

“My first reaction was personal– I thought about the places where I visited my grandparents when I was a young child,” Goodwin said.

Fortunately, none of Goodwin’s family was directly affected by flooding or disaster, but some did have to evacuate.

Both Gonzalez and Goodwin considered how to help hurricane victims in the long-run.

Gonzalez came up with an idea to take certain clubs from Decatur High School and match it with a similar (if not the same) club from Kingwood High School. Then, Decatur students and staff would exchange emails and phone numbers to provide supplies that may have been damaged in the hurricane to Kingwood students and staff in need.

Gonzalez is hoping that this program will help students from Decatur “find an opportunity to connect on a personal level with people who are in need and who may be different from us,” and help students from Kingwood say what they need because, “it requires a certain amount of thought process, humility, and trust to say ‘this is what I need.’”

Goodwin believes that help rushes in at the beginning of natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey, but then slowly decreases as time passes and people move on with their lives. This process, however, of pairing school clubs could help “sustain support over a longer period of time,” Goodwin said.  

The amount of people affected by Hurricane Harvey is overwhelming, but thanks to the support provided to hurricane victims, reassurance is offered to those in need.

“We don’t have to know all the details, we [the Decatur people] just want to help,” Gonzalez said.