In Victoria, residents relive the soundtrack of a storm: ‘You could hear things tearing’
VICTORIA — “Oh my God!”
That was the reaction of Micaela Ramos, 10, who’d slept as Hurricane Harvey came down Santa Rosa Street, when she saw the scene Saturday morning outside her grandmother’s home.
Dozens of trees were down in the historic district, the original town site. The pavement was carpeted with branches. Leaves were plastered to houses and vehicles. “It was crazy,” said Micaela’s dad, Abraham Ramos, 34.“There was a bunch of wind, rain. It was coming down pretty freakin’ hard.”
The worst damage occurred after he’d turned ina t 3:30a.m., but his mother-inlaw was awake to hear the soundtrack of sheds being ripped apart and large trees dismembered.
“You could hear things tearing,” said Juanita Montoya, 58, who couldn’t sleep duetotheabsenceofairconditioningcausedbydowned power lines.
Josh Burris, a neighbor, endured a parade of gawkers drawn by an unusual spectacle: his car, parked with two wheels in the street and two on the curb, was lifted by roots that emerged from his water-soaked yard as a large tree fell in front of his house.
Burris, 38, explained the car had been hit days earlier by a passing motorist, a crash that pushed it partly onto the curb and disabled it. The falling tree lifted up the car and hit a second large tree, knocking it over too.
Authorities began assessing the damage here about noon and reported no loss of life, though they hadn’t yet canvassed outlying areas.
Getting the streets clear of debris and power restored were immediate issues, but Victoria County Deputy Bryan Simons, who estimated the storm packed 90 mph gusts overnight, said the continuing rain made catastrophic flooding the main fear.
A boil water notice and a curfew from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. will continue in effect until further notice. The Guadalupe River is forecast to crest at more than 32 feet here on Wednesday, about 2 feet higher than seen in the devastating 1998 flood, Simons said, urging local residents to pack critical documents, medications and clothing “in case they need to leave very, very quickly.”
In Gonzales and DeWitt counties, field after field was flooded, and rising water lapped at roadways.
The few people who ventured to the Walmart in the county seat of Gonzales looked like they’d taken a beating — hair plastered to their faces, shoulders hunched and tempers running high.
Denise Christopherson got into an argument with a cashier that left her crying. It was silly, really, she admitted later — the staffer wouldn’t get her a salad bowl—but Christopherson, 66, was pretty sure her place in Port Aransas was, “if not destroyed, under water,” and it was just too much.
“I hadn’t cried until today,” she said, wiping tears from her cheeks.
Christopherson, are tired Austin social worker, had left Port Aransas on Thursday with her husband, her best friend, her father-inlaw and two dogs. They found motel rooms and she had gone to Walmart to get her group some basics — food, water, a toothbrush and toothpaste. A breast cancer survivor, Christopherson said she had to learn how to deal with the unknown.
“You can waste all your energy worrying about tomorrow, but then you won’t have the strength left for today,” she said.
Eastward from Gonzales, the roads passed through increasing devastation. In Cuero, a gas station was tipped over in its parking lot, gas pumps uprooted. Half the stoplights were broken, and store awnings looked as if they’ve been bulldozed.
The few people out at a local Subway struggled to get out of their cars — the wind so strong it pushed doors shut.
“Nothing was open and we were hungry. All we have at the hotel is canned goods,” said Darcel Green, who has lived in Cuero for more than 55 years and saw the interior of her home destroyed by the 1998 flood. When Harvey approached, her family gathered precious belongings and got rooms at a hotel.
“Things can be replaced, but our lives can’t, you know?” she said. email@example.com