One year later: Hurricane Harvey survivor rebuilds home, life


Courtesy of Krislyn Wurtz Boswell

The Boswell family in happier times, having rebuilt their home and lives after Hurricane Harvey.

By Katelyn Spivey, Canyon High School

The water which once sloshed around her home, ruining everything from furniture to her son’s first shoes, is now gone. Although it brought feelings of stress and fear, Hurricane Harvey did not completely devastate.

A year after Hurricane Harvey, a storm which flooded cities and homes in south Texas, residents of towns affected are still recovering from the disastrous storm. During the storm, registered nurse and Canyon High alumna Krislyn Wurtz Boswell spent six days at Clear Lake Regional Medical Center as part of the hospital’s Disaster Relief Team while her home flooded. She, her husband and three sons are now back in their home after rebuilding much of it because of water damage. Although she said rebuilding was the most stressful period of her life, her family has resumed life as normal, thanks to help from family and new friends.

“A year later, we are back in our home, I am back in school, and have a 4-month-old boy on top of the other two little boys I have,” Boswell said. “My husband is working full-time, and I am back at work as well.”

Boswell said most people do not think hurricanes are a big deal until they occur.

You never know what kind of impact it’s going to have on your life and the lives of the people around you.”

— Krislyn Boswell

“Most people, when they talk about hurricanes, they blow it off,” Boswell said.  “I think that what we learned is you don’t know. You never know what’s going to happen or how severe it’s going to be until it hits. You never know what kind of impact it’s going to have on your life and the lives of the people around you.”

Before they could rebuild their home,  Boswell and her family lived in a camper.

“Everybody adjusted to everything really well,” Boswell said. “It was really weird being out of the house the way we were. We were staying in a camper, so it was a really big adjustment during that time. We were going in and out of the house making decisions on what we were going to with what area and how to go about it.”

Although she said her children adapted to their surroundings well, they enjoy being back in their home.

“The kids would come in and see everything, but they had a really hard time coping with that they couldn’t stay in their house and that their rooms were gone,” Boswell said. “The whole process during the rebuild was hard, but now that we’re back home, they’re so happy. They got all their new toys, and anytime anybody comes over, my 3 year old has to show everybody his new bunk bed.”

Boswell said cleaning the home enough to be able to fix it took a month, but finding an availible contractor was difficult.

“We were fortunate that my husband is pretty handy,” Boswell. “He did a lot of little jobs that people were paying outrageous amounts of money to get done, which saved us a lot. Because so many people flooded, it was hard trying to find a contractor that could come in and rebuild.”

Boswell said being able to trust the contractors was important.

“Unfortunately, some of our neighbors ended up getting bad contractors they paid, and they never showed back up,” Boswell said. “That was a struggle.”

Although rebuilding was stressful, Boswell said the biggest struggle was working with the insurance company on how funds would be divided and when it would be given.

“It was just a big, huge process,” Boswell said. “It was the most stressful thing I think I’ve ever gone through in my life. Every time you would make progress, our contractor broke the water line and flooded some areas, so it’s like ‘oh, gotta start over.’ It’s like two steps forward, one step back.

Boswell said even though funding was not an issue for her family, better funding should be prepared for future disasters.

“The funding wasn’t really an issue for us,” Boswell said. “We were able to rebuild and get back in our house fairly quickly. But there are people who didn’t have insurance having contractors tell them it’s going to cost 50,000 to come redo their house. They can’t afford that.”

Boswell said the cities hit by the hurricane provided good short-term funding but did not provide long-term resources.

“Once these community centers closed their doors, people didn’t have anywhere to go,” Boswell. “There were people that didn’t have a place to stay. We were very fortunate that my dad had a camper. A lot of people were living with family. There needs to be more resources available for when situations like this happen, long term resources.”

You realize you rely so heavily on your family, because your family helps you get through it the most.

— Krislyn Boswell

Boswell said initially the community was close, but it slowly separated. Despite this, she said her neighborhood has bonded.

“You realize you rely so heavily on your family, because your family helps you get through it the most,” Boswell said. “I think the people I was most surprised was the neighbors that we had. They end up turning into good friends that you have, because it’s somebody that can relate to you.”

Boswell said the neighborhood is closer, because they share that common ground of rebuilding.

“We talk to them all the time,” Boswell said. “Our neighborhood has gotten a lot closer in the process. Everybody watches out for everybody. They help me with my kids all the time. We watch each other’s houses. We do cookouts. We get together.”

Since they were called into work at the time of the hurricane, Boswell said she is still very close with the girls at the hospital where she works.

“I work with a lot of they same girls I worked with while we were at the hospital, and we were talking about ‘Can you believe that a year ago we were all camped out here?’” Boswell said. “Work has pretty much been the same. It keeps going on. Everybody is a little closer up there. The girls, they all stayed together.”

Boswell said the hurricane will affect her life forever.

“Every time it rains you get this pit in the bottom of your stomach,” Boswell said. “You’ll always have that in the back of your head. It’s a permanent thing. It’s not the initial trauma anymore. It’s not the emotional trauma where you cry all the time, and you feel like you lost everything. You’ll always wonder, ‘Will it happen again?’ It changes you.”

Boswell said being surrounded by positive people helped her through the stressful times.

“Surround yourself with people who are going to bring you up and are going to make you better,” Boswell said. “We relied on our family and our faith to help get us through.”

This story was originally published on The Eagle’s Tale on September 12, 2018.