Ellis Family Harvey Disaster

Adam & I want to personally thank each & every one of you for your compassion & generosity. We are overwhelmed with gratitude for the love & support that we have received over the last few days. 

We also just wanted to share a little more about who we are & what happened on August 27th. The day that everything changed.

My dear husband, Adam, is a full-time firefighter/paramedic for the Houston Fire Department as well as the Channelview Fire Department. Yes, you heard right. My hardworking husband works 96 hours a week so that our children can be raised by & loved on by me, their momma, all day.

For the past year & a half we have renovated our home out of our own pockets & much of it with our own two hands. We had big dreams & plans of paying off all of our debt with the equity in our home which would allow my husband to quit one job & get to spend more time with his 3 girls.

We were weeks away from putting our house on the market when Hurricane Harvey hit just 4 days ago.

Around 11:45pm while the storm raged outside I anxiously watched the water collect in our street, pour over our sidewalk & into our driveway. I had never even seen water pool in our street much less flood. This struck some fear in me. 

I stayed up to watch the news & monitor the water levels until it stopped raining around 1:30 a.m. That's when I decided it would be a good time to try to rest. I laid in bed feeling heavy with fear for 30 minutes. All the while there was only light rain. Thinking, "SURELY the water has gone down, I will go take one last look & it will give me the peace of mind I need to sleep for a few hours."

Wrong! I walked out to find that the water had risen so high it was inches from being in our garage. I knew we were going to flood at that point & ran to wake Adam.

We immediately began putting everything we could on top of countertops, furniture & folding tables. 

Living in a one-story house meant the attic was our only refuge (aside from sitting on the roof). 

We knew that we would need a way out if it rose too high, so we grabbed an axe, crowbar, hammer & hacksaw & put them in the attic first. Followed by plywood so we wouldn't have to balance on the beams, flashlights, water, diapers & wipes, important documents, medications, a pack 'n play to contain the kids, some folding chairs, bug spray, sunscreen, extra clothes & food. 

Our youngest has a rare life-threatening food allergy condition called FPIES (Food Protein Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome), so as water was pouring into our house around 2:30 a.m. we were boiling potatoes & eggs to make sure we had enough safe foods in the attic for Hazel should we be there for a long time. 

Once we had everything we could think of (around 3:30 a.m.) we grabbed the girls & dogs & I went up to the attic with them. Adam continued to grab everything he thought may be useful to us.

Just before joining us in the attic, Adam shut off the main breaker so we wouldn't have to worry about electrical currents in the water/electrical fires.

Our neighbor, Bobbie called. She was crying. They had a few inches of water in their home & didn't know what to do. I instructed them to do just was we did. Go to the attic with tools to get on the roof, food & water, shut off the electricity & then I prayed with her & tried to assure her we would get through it.

By 4:00 a.m. we had between 6 & 8 inches of water in the house. 

Presley was scared of the attic & kept asking to get in her bed. It was heartbreaking. We just kept assuring her we were safe & prayed together as a family. 

The water slowed down some so we tried to rest. 

We actually had called 911 when the water first started rushing into the house, because we knew things weren't looking so good based on the rate the water was rising. At 4:08 we called again. We were put on hold at one point & told we were already on the list. I asked how long they thought it would take & the dispatcher said, "I don't know. We just don't have the resources. Someone was just rescued out of a house with 12 feet of water in it." 

That's when we realized it would probably be a while.

So we prayed and we prayed and we prayed some more. We thanked God for each breath we had been given. We thanked Him for our children. We prayed for rescue & we prayed that the glory would all be His. 

Around 6 a.m. we were exhausted & feeling helpless. The water was about 18 inches deep in the house. No sign of rescue. Adam sent out a desperate plea to the guys from HFD for help. We cried. And then Adam decided to do something about it. 

He got busy cutting a hole in our roof so we could get out & hopefully be spotted by rescue.

Once he finished our's he went next door & cut a hole in their roof.

For the next few hours Adam went around looking for help & looking for anyone he could help.

I stayed in the attic with the girls. God gave me an overwhelming sense of peace that we would be rescued, but you can't help but think about the alternative in that situation. I decided to sing songs of praise to God as loud as I possibly could & I wept.I wept for my girls. 

Nothing can prepare a parent for the agony of knowing your children are in danger & you can't save them, because you're in need of saving, too. I kept looking at their angelic faces & telling them how much I loved them & how precious they are. 

Just before 7:00 a.m. the sun came up. We could hear boats. In fact one spotted Adam while he was out in the water. 

By 8 a.m. the water is probably 2.5 feet deep in the house & I finally had a chance to look out on the roof. I couldn't believe what I saw. Our entire neighborhood was engulfed by the creek. My van was halfway submerged & Adam's Civic wasn't even visible. 

By 8:30 I was spending more time on the roof looking for rescue boats. We saw several, but the people closest to the creek were priority. 

Finally around 9:00 a.m. a boat passed & we waved & yelled out to them that we had babies. They asked how many & the ages & immediately came to our rescue. I went into the attic to get everything we needed to take with us.

I heard someone climb through the hole & assumed it was Adam. I called out to him & looked up to see a Friendwood firefighter. My heart nearly leapt out of my chest. We were really being rescued! My babies would be okay!

I crawled the girls over to the escape hole & they got them down into the boat. Then came the dogs & then came myself, with a select few necessities.

We went next door for my husband & the crew to rescue our neighbor. Once she was safely in the boat they ferried my husband across the street so he could help an elderly neighbor get to higher ground. 

He stayed with her while we were boated to dry land. 

It wasn't until we got to the Click2Houston van that I realized our neighborhood was one of the worst in Houston (at the time). Considering we weren't in a flood zone & never flooded I just assumed it was widespread devastation everywhere. 

Shortly after I was interviewed.


We spent that night with friends who took us in, clothed & fed us. 

We are now staying with my parents until our housing situation is worked out. By the time we were rescued there was 3 feet of water in our home & we believe it rose even more after we left. Just about everything is destroyed. We had no flood insurance,because by all historical accounts, there was no reason to. 

We are prayerful that God will provide & restore everything that we lost. We have a long road of recovery ahead of us, but we have been so blessed by the kindness shown to us in this most trying time & feel nothing, but gratitude for another day of life.Please continue to pray for all of those effected by Harvey.

God bless you,

Jess Ellis

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  • Pam & David Garcia  
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  • HFD Station 70 
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Organizer and beneficiary

Brooke Danielle Teachout 
Friendswood, TX
Jessica Ellis