By Katherine Coble || News Editor
Bonnie Sullivan loves her hometown. An F&M junior and native of Houston, TX, she was raised in the southwestern neighborhood of Meyerland. Meyerland is a part of town known for flooding and Sullivan is no stranger to water damage — but Hurricane Harvey was different.
Harvey is the first category-3 or higher hurricane to hit the mainland United States since 2005 and has caused at least 71 deaths. According to FEMA administrator Brock Long, it is “probably the worst disaster” that the state of Texas has ever seen. Houston, the fourth-largest city in the United States, was one of the places hit hardest by Harvey.
Sullivan considers her family “lucky” and says Harvey caused minimal damage to her family home because the house “just sits a few inches higher” than others on her street, many of which are still flooded and will need to be rebuilt. Her parents housed neighbors during the storm whose home’s water levels had gotten to be too high. The storm has pushed local school’s start dates back by two weeks and some of her family friends will have to begin the school year in a different location because their schools’ structures were so badly damaged in the storm.
Sullivan herself was not in Houston during the storm because she had re-arranged her flight in order to avoid the storm. “If I had stayed, my original flight was cancelled and I would’ve been stranded in Houston for another week,” she says, and was grateful that “both Dean Hazlett and Dr. Porterfield reached out to me personally to make sure I had made it back to campus safely.” Sullivan’s parents and younger brother remain in Houston.
Sophomore Donald Peacock is also a Houstonite, although from a different area of the city — a northern neighborhood known as Acres Homes. He says the north was less impacted by Harvey than the areas closer to downtown (such as Sullivan’s neighborhood). “Gratefully, there wasn’t any damage to our home, but that’s because we live in the northern part of Houston.” Peacock’s travel plans to F&M also were not impacted because he arrived early for HA training, but he says he does know current F&M students who were stranded in Houston for days and unable to attend the first week of classes because they were back in Texas.
Both Sullivan and Peacock have fears about the rebuilding process, in part because resources are stretched so thin from other recent hurricanes. Peacock expressed frustration with the speed of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) response, and Sullivan acknowledged that the road to recovery would be “long and hard.” However, both remain optimistic about the future, describing their city as resilient and strong. “I think that Houston is going to be okay,” Peacock says.
When asked how Harvey has impacted their lives, both Sullivan and Peacock bring up their families. “I appreciate my family way more,” Peacock acknowledges, “I’m very grateful to have them.” He also says that Harvey has brought the city of Houston together, particularly during rescue efforts. “People started to help each other… They felt this need to go out and be of service to other people… the hurricane has created a greater sense of community.”
Sullivan echoes the sentiment, saying, “It’s made me immensely grateful for the resilience of my city and the unimportance of material things… Such a stressful time really puts into perspective how replaceable material things are, and how family and friends are what’s so much more important and valuable.”
Sophomore Katherine Coble is the news editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.