Two former Mason County women remain safe during Harvey’s destruction.

August 29, 2017

A view of downtown Houston where Lisa works.

Two former Mason County women remain safe during Harvey’s destruction.

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

As Hurricane Harvey has caused massive destruction, two former Mason County women who now live in the Houston area have been able to remain safe. I spoke Monday evening with Tara Patten and Lisa (Schwass) Raynor -Keck about their experiences through the hurricane and tropical storm that has dumped over 30 inches of rain on the Houston area.

Lisa, who grew up in Free Soil Township and graduated from Mason County Central High School, lives in Kingwood, about 25 miles north of downtown Houston. However, she works for the University of Houston-Downtown at 1 Main Street in the center of the center.

Tara, who once lived in Amber Township, lives near Katy, about 28 miles east of downtown Houston.

“I am getting notifications for every tornado warning, flash flood and severe storms,” Tara said. “On Friday and Saturday I was getting them about every 30 minutes. But some were right after the other. My alarm would go off and tell me there is a tornado warning and to take shelter until 2:30 and then right behind that notification I would get another one that prolonged that tornado warning until 2:45. Then I would get another one as a flash flood warning. So, we would be in shelter for a tornado and flooding at the same time.”

Flooding near Katy, Texas.

Lisa said her house has managed to stay dry, however, a nearby neighborhood has begun flooding. Her son was supposed to begin his sophomore year in high school Monday, but school has been delayed at least a week. She said the school started flooding today.

“Kingwood is starting to see flooding and some people are being evacuated, so things are starting to get closer to home,” Lisa said. “We have another round of heavy rain coming our way later tonight,” she said this morning.

“A fellow employee posted on an informal UHD Facebook check in page that his car was completely submerged. The first floor of his home was wiped out and he’s lost most of his clothes.”

Tara’s husband, Michael, is currently working in Louisiana. She had been visiting him last week but made the decision to go home and keep an eye on their house.

People standing in line at a grocery store.

“I was actually in Louisiana with him up until Thursday,” she said. “I wanted to come back to Texas to my home. Being in Louisiana not knowing what was going on here was making me very anxious. So after discussing at length about my safely of heading into the chaos, we decided I needed to come home. I don’t regret the decision. Although I am nervous and scared of what is still to come, I am home. I am by myself but not alone. My neighbors and friends here have just wrapped their arms around me and are taking care of me.”

Tara posts frequent video updates on her Facebook page to let friends and family know her status.

“Basically I have been inundated with calls, texts, private messages, posts to my wall of friends and family who are concerned for me. I have cried — literally — over this. I am overwhelmed the outpouring of concern and love. So instead of calling, texting and messaging people back I thought it’d be a good idea to just do live videos.

“Initially I thought it would be great to get the word out about me and to calm everyone’s fears but it had turned into something that now people are waiting on everyday. If I don’t video post when people think I should be, I get calls and messages starting early morning. Doing this has been a great outlet for my cabin fever too.”

Empty shelves at grocery store.

Harvey is not Tara’s first hurricane. Prior to moving to Houston, she lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “I’ve been through Ivan, Gustav, Katrina, Rita and now Harvey. Do I get a medal for that?”

Harvey has most likely been the worst, though.

“The biggest and scariest issue for us now is the reservoirs being opened, which will cause more flooding and its intentional, which is just crazy to think about but has to happen. The rain is not stopping so this, along with opening the reservoirs will only complicate things to a level I have a hard time comprehending, even as an adult.

“People are stranded and we don’t have enough volunteers to help remove them from their homes. The issue has been getting people here to be able help us. We can’t get out and no one can get in. Both our airports are under water and our ports are closed.”

But, the worst situation can often bring out the best in a society.

“This whole situation has affected me by restoring my faith in humanity,” Tara said. “Locally Houstonians are taking it upon themselves to rescue and help in recovery efforts. Individuals have taken it upon themselves to open businesses for sheltering those being evacuated and/or to get supplies to those in need. One of our local grocery stores has brought in mobile kitchens (full sized semi trucks) and gone into areas that were affected by the hurricane and and flooding to feed people. These trucks can produce massive amounts of food, feeding as many as 2,000 people at a time. It’s just incredible! I am seeing people helping people. Strangers helping strangers.”

Lisa said getting supplies is getting difficult for many people but she and her children are fine. “We have food and water, so we are good,” she said. “I am just ready for this to end and I am praying my house doesn’t flood. We have been at the house since Saturday and are ready to get out and start helping other Houstonians recover.”

This story is copyrighted © 2017, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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