Last week I shared photos of the surging flood waters in the north Houston community of Kingwood, Texas.
The photos were taken along the freeway as the water reached its peak height of approximately 70 feet, although many suspect the flood gauges stopped working at that point.
I spent this weekend at the townhomes where I grew up, about a mile east of the freeway along the north bank of the San Jacinto river. The townhomes are 3 and 4 floors tall, receiving water between 3 and 6 feet high on the second floor level.
On Sunday I met Joy, a former Marine from a proud-serving family and resident of the community since 1998. She was one of a handful of residents that had come back to salvage what she could. Her building was the hit the hardest, a block of 6 units that had been reduced to two standing units when the ground beneath the foundation of the building was washed away early in the week. I have spent the past two days with Joy, her daughter, and some of their friends sifting through the remains of her home looking for priceless things: her father’s military service flag, a bible her grandfather brought when he immigrated to the US that he read to her from, photos of her parents and grandparents, letters from her son, pieces of art from her brother…bits of history that can’t be replaced.
This was where Joy had hoped to retire, staring out at a serene river sunset from her balcony. But the rains from Hurricane Harvey covered the city in water. Massive amounts of water were released from Lake Conroe, joining with water flowing in from Spring Creek and Cypress Creek.
As the water began flowing over its banks where the river bends southeast the current pushed the wall of water northeast in a straight line hitting Joy’s building head on. As the ground beneath the building was washed out, the first three units collapsed and washed away. But as the waters receded, Joy’s unit buckled under the weight and toppled into the 10 foot deep chasm.
The following photos show the destructive force of the waters that destroyed Joy’s home and left her with nothing, as well as damage I found along the paths of the San Jacinto River and Spring Creek.
A GoFundMe account has been created to help her rebuild her life and I urge those of you who can contribute to do so, not just for Joy, but the many flood victims throughout the affected areas stretching along the gulf coast of Texas and into Louisiana.
Joy’s GoFundMe can be found here.
Joy and Jennifer with her grandfather’s bible and her father’s flag
Last two standing
Joy’s laundry room and kitchen caving into the garage below
Green carpet of 3rd floor of toppled townhome
Master bedroom with walls detached from ceiling and floor of crumbling unit
Bathroom on 2nd floor of a unit
2nd floor living room with sand on floor and showing water level further from the river
One of two remaining units slowly crumbling
A level photo showing how askew building and staircase are
Destroyed home with missing balcony, walls, roof, and water heater hanging
Guitar and bicycle in debris mass
Washing machine drum about 30 yards from nearest home
A tree and parts of broken garage door inside garage
Two trees bent by the current with a garage door and railing bent around the trunks
Flood debris hanging in tree ten feet above ground
View from inside a garage
Surging water swirling around the base of this tree exposed the root system
A toppled oil derrick
A staircase twisted by flood waters
Dunes of sand deposited by the flood cover yards and road
Emergency response equipment staged and ready
One of several barrels of chemicals found along railroad tracks in Conroe
Debris on railroad tracks
Debris covers many miles of railway throughout Houston
Sunset over the townhomes as a long day of cleanup ends