My name is Josh Wilmeth and I, along with my fiancé’s family, are among the many in Houston, Texas who were affected by Hurricane Harvey and this is my story.
It was late Wednesday afternoon that I first heard Hurricane Harvey would be affecting our area. From Thursday through Saturday, it would rain…and rain…and rain, but I never though the hurricane would have such an adverse effect on me and my family.
The events that transpired from late Sunday afternoon to early Tuesday morning were horrific and I will never forget them.
I remember waking up Monday morning and thinking, “I’m glad it stopped raining as hard as it did last night. It shouldn’t be bad at all.” To my surprise the cul-de-sac to my family’s neighborhood had started flooding though. But it was only a miniscule amount. The entire area hadn’t even been covered by water yet.
I told my fiancé, “The only reason the water even rose this high is because they released the reservoirs in Conroe (TX), but it’s okay; it could NEVER reach this house. It’s on a hill. And after two days of rain, this is it?! This is pathetic! It won’t even reach the driveway.”
As hours passed, I noticed the cul-de-sac was covered by a thin layer of water…which turned into an inch of water…which turned into two inches of water and so on.
We started doing our best and brainstorming how we could combat the storm/flooding if it were to ever reach any higher heights. As we started wrapping the doors with plastic wrap; stacking up bricks to create the barricade to our house; etc. I started to wonder, “Could this really get to this level. Surely not. I mean, it has barely touched our neighbor’s mailbox.”
Hours kept passing and the rain never stopped...neither did the flooding…
Though we were working tirelessly around the clock, we couldn’t help but notice the water creeping up our walkway. No one said it, but I knew we were beginning to get nervous. Unless it stopped rising at such a rapid pace, this house would soon be under water.
Around 3 a.m. Tuesday morning, while I was duct taping all our electrical outlets in the house, I noticed a boat starting to pick up my neighbors which weren’t on the hill. This was an indication that water had started seeping through their doors and into their homes.
“We’re on the hill, the water will stop rising soon.” I kept repeating that to myself over and over again…
Around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, we tried our best to fall asleep. I slept for roughly an hour and a half, but to wake up to my future mother in law telling my fiancé that water has begun creeping into our home. My fiancé told me, “Get up please and get your emergency bags together.” I jumped out of bed, thinking this had to be a bad dream. The electricity was out, so I grabbed my flashlight and I went downstairs to check outside, but the puddle I jumped into once I reach the first floor was all the evidence I needed to understand this was reality.
Around 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, my fiancé was on Facebook trying to see if there were any numbers to rescue boats in our area. We believed we had a ride out of the house…but the man told us the earliest he could get there was 7:30. I wasn’t upset though; I knew that the house would be under further distress, but we wouldn’t be in immediate danger.
Sadly, around 7:30 that morning, the boat hadn’t arrived and the man told us that he wouldn’t be able to make it. I told my fiancé to try all the other numbers available. She called every number possible, telling everyone we needed help IMMEDIATELY.
I started to become anxious; no one would say they would come and get us. They were saying they would try their best, but it may be hours until they arrive. But the water was rising faster than that; gas was leaking into our house; the pool was backlogged and now we’re getting bombarded from both sides!
Me and my fiancé’s father went through the downstairs window to get a breath of fresh air and assess what we needed to do, only to be approached by one of our neighbors holding an elderly woman. He said that he saw a helicopter in the sky and this woman needed to be rushed to a hospital for a medical emergency. He then asked if we could help get her to the helicopter.
I never thought the earth could be so soft…I never thought quick sand to be real. But as my fiancé’s father and I tried to get this elderly woman out to the roads I found out what that was like. I would sink two feet in the ground easily as the flooding had corroded the solidity of the ground.
Once we reached the roads, I saw the helicopter approaching. But again, I would learn something new. When the helicopter started descending, I learned how powerful helicopter propellers (?) were. They were pushing me back and tree branches were flying everywhere. As we tried our best to get to the rope ladder, a flying branch hit me on my head and I remember screaming, “Am I bleeding?! Am I bleeding!? Please Lord don’t let this be that bad.” I was screaming and pleading for God to give me and Mauricio strength as we tried our best to push this woman to this ladder. A member of the coast guard descended and finally helped us bring the woman to safety. I prayed with all my heart that she would make it to the hospital alive….
We returned to the road only to see our family on the street with all our animals. They said the fire department told them they were on their way. “Hallelujah! Finally, we can escape this nightmare.” I thought. We waited…and waited…but the fire department never showed up.
The current that engulfed our main highway was getting stronger and the water was rising. Finally, my future father in law said, “We need to go back inside. This is becoming very dangerous and they’re not coming. We can watch from the roof.”
I don’t know the reason exactly, but the fire department never came. We watched the roads together and never saw anything.
I checked downstairs and the water kept rising up our stairway.
I hope you never have to know the fear that sight can instill in you. The fear that you may drown in this house. The fear that your family isn’t being rescued. The fear you get when you call 9-1-1 and they aren’t sending boats to save you. The fear you get when your phones battery is dying and no one is answering your calls.
That fear is like no other. It’s not the fear you get after watching a scary movie. It’s not the fear you get when you’re walking home in the dark and you think you hear something in the bushes…No, this fear is much worse.
As we kept trying to get a hold of 9-1-1; the Coast Guard; etc. we called a close family friend and told her our story. She rushed to her car; went straight to the barricade; and told the police she wouldn’t calm down until they went to our house. The power a Latino woman has when she is mad must be powerful because the police showed up in less than an hour.
When they arrived, I frantically ran downstairs; kicked open a window; and waded my way through the waters for the rescue squad to see me. We boarded five people; three dogs; and one cat. As we began to push to depart from the house I couldn’t believe my eyes. This house that my fiancé’s parents had worked so hard for was under water. Six cars in the driveway floating under water. Our entire neighborhood, including our house on the hill, was gone.
I cried so hard in that boat. I was in total disbelief of what was happening. We were riding the boat over our neighbors’ roofs. When I asked the man steering the boat where we were he said, “Son, this is the major highway we’re over.” The highway? It seemed like we were riding over the Atlantic Ocean.
We finally reached shallow land and our family friend met us there. I put my feet on the ground and I started to feel again. Until that moment, I felt so numb. But now…I was just happy our family and our pets weren’t part of the flooded neighborhood. We had each other and that’s all that mattered.
I’m starting this Go Fund Me page in hopes that we can raise some money to help us get back on our feet. We went back for the first time yesterday only to see the house ruined and most the cars filled with water. We don’t have flood insurance and it doesn’t seem super evident that the agencies can help us out.
I know you’re seeing a price of roughly $55K. After taxes/fees, this amount will provide our family with $50. This money will be used to buy a new home most specifically. We currently don’t have a home; we currently don’t have a car; and though we are engaged, I don’t even know how our wedding will be any more. The beautiful venues; flowers; etc. we were viewing don’t seem to be realistic for us any longer. And it wouldn't be anything less than selfish to expect her parents to fund it anymore.
I’m asking that you do anything you can to help us out. That doesn’t have to be $50, $20, $10, or even $5. It can be $1, and I promise we would be just as happy. Even if you can't dontae, please share this post!!! That would help tremendously!! If somehow this went viral and everyone donated a dollar, we may have enough to get us a place to stay and another car to drive around in.
Please understand that I’m not saying we have to have $55K, if we even raise $100, we will be happy. It’s just we have 6 members of our family here; this family is expecting a baby in a few months; there are three dogs and a cat and we’re asking for any help we can get.
I believe in our community; I believe in the generosity of others; and I believe this can help us get back on our feet. Thanks again for the consideration and I want to thank you all for the future support I know we’ll receive. Love you all and God Bless :)