For­mer Glen­gar­ri­ans witness hur­ri­cane

The Glengarry News - - Front Page - BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL News Staff

A for­mer Glen­garry cou­ple were eye­wit­nesses to the on­slaught of Hur­ri­cane Har­vey – one of the most de­struc­tive storms ever to hit the U.S.

How­ever, un­like mil­lions of res­i­dents in four states, An­drew McRae and his wife, Lak­shmi, along with their two dogs, emerged from the storm rel­a­tively un­af­fected.

The McRaes live in Dick­in­son, Texas, about a 40-minute drive from down­town Hous­ton – the epi­cen­tre of the hur­ri­cane.

“A few houses got some wa­ter in them on the lower ends of our streets. We were spared. We are both back to work and de­spite a few short­ages, life is re­turn­ing to nor­mal,” Mr. McRae told The News in an email last Wed­nes­day (Sept. 6). “A quar­ter mile south of us was (and re­mains) night­mar­ish.” Mr. McRae said sub­di­vi­sions and high­ways in Hous­ton’s west end were still un­der sev­eral feet of wa­ter – al­most two weeks af­ter Har­vey, a Cat­e­gory 3 storm, made land­fall, un­leash­ing 130 mph (209 km/h) winds and tor­ren­tial rains.

“Smaller towns east of Hous­ton were dev­as­tated... and there will be a long-term need for sup­port for those who have lost every­thing,” added Mr. McRae.

The McRaes – An­drew is a Glen Ne­vis na­tive, while Lak­shmi is from Baltics Cor­ners – have lived in Dick­in­son, a city of about 20,000 res­i­dents in Galve­ston County, within the Hous­ton–The Wood­lands–Sugar Land metropoli­tan area, since Christ­mas 1997.

Mr. McRae works at Waste Man­age­ment’s head­quar­ters of­fice in Hous­ton, while his wife is a day surgery nurse at the Univer­sity of Texas Med­i­cal Branch in the city of Galve­ston, which is about half-an-hour (37 km) south­east of Dick­in­son.

And while Texas’ Gulf Coast re­gion is known for se­vere thun­der­storms and in­tense weather, Mr. McRae said the cou­ple had never seen any­thing com­pa­ra­ble to Har­vey in their two decades liv­ing in the Lone Star State – or prior to that.

“One of the soc­cer tour­na­ments at the Maxville fair­grounds one year had a short burst of tor­ren­tial rain,” he re­called.

“Imag­ine that pre­cip­i­ta­tion for a cou­ple of days and throw in unimag­in­able thun­der and light­ning, and you’re get­ting close (to Har­vey’s re­lent­less down­pours).”

De­spite dev­as­ta­tion wrought by Har­vey – the death toll had reached 70 as of press time, with an es­ti­mated 185,000 homes dam­aged or de­stroyed, and more than one mil­lion res­i­dents dis­placed from their homes – Mr. McRae has been im­pressed by the com­mu­nity spirit of his neigh­bours as well as the gen­eros­ity of those from out­side the area who have pro­vided as­sis­tance to storm vic­tims.

“Ev­ery­one has stepped up to help each other,” he said. “Those who lost power bar­be­cued every­thing they would have lost and had neigh­bours over (to eat).

“(And) peo­ple from all over the U.S. came in to help. Their par­tic­i­pa­tion was price­less.”

As the res­i­dents of Texas and neigh­bour­ing Louisiana who left their homes prior to Har­vey’s deadly land­fall re­turn and be­gin the long and ar­du­ous clean-up process, most are un­doubt­edly left with last­ing mem­o­ries of the storm and its aftermath.

For Mr. McRae, one mental im­age in par­tic­u­lar stands out.

“Peo­ple be­ing res­cued by boat...They lost every­thing but their lives,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to an ar­ti­cle in the Sept. 2 edi­tion of The Wash­ing­ton

Post, Hur­ri­cane Har­vey dumped 33 tril­lion gal­lons of wa­ter on Texas and Louisiana, as well as Ken­tucky and Tennessee, be­tween Aug. 25 and Sept. 1 – enough to fill al­most 360,000 of the largest oil tanker ships in use to­day.

The dam­age caused by Har­vey is ex­pected to ex­ceed Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina’s $160 bil­lion price tag for re­cov­ery.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

HUR­RI­CANE HAR­VEY: In this photo, sub­mit­ted by An­drew McRae, we can see the flooded streets of Dick­in­son, Texas, where he and his wife, Lak­shimi, live. The photo is circa Aug. 27, two days af­ter Hur­ri­cane Har­vey made land­fall. Dick­in­son is about 55 km south­east of down­town Hous­ton, which bore the brunt of the storm.

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