Former Glengarrians witness hurricane
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.
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.