Recovering, again

One of the country’s heaviest rainfalls in history flooded hundreds of homes in the Kingwood area Sept. 19.

Freshmen+Trent+Burningham+and+Nathan+Smith+add+debris+to+the+pile+in+front+of+the+Smith+home%2C+while+Tammy+Smith+carries+more+woodwork+to+the+trash+on+Sept.+21.++The+Smith+family+had+never+flooded+in+their+Bear+Branch+home+before+Tropical+Depression+Imelda+hit+on+Sept.+19.
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Recovering, again

Freshmen Trent Burningham and Nathan Smith add debris to the pile in front of the Smith home, while Tammy Smith carries more woodwork to the trash on Sept. 21.  The Smith family had never flooded in their Bear Branch home before Tropical Depression Imelda hit on Sept. 19.

Freshmen Trent Burningham and Nathan Smith add debris to the pile in front of the Smith home, while Tammy Smith carries more woodwork to the trash on Sept. 21. The Smith family had never flooded in their Bear Branch home before Tropical Depression Imelda hit on Sept. 19.

Kathleen Ortiz

Freshmen Trent Burningham and Nathan Smith add debris to the pile in front of the Smith home, while Tammy Smith carries more woodwork to the trash on Sept. 21. The Smith family had never flooded in their Bear Branch home before Tropical Depression Imelda hit on Sept. 19.

Kathleen Ortiz

Kathleen Ortiz

Freshmen Trent Burningham and Nathan Smith add debris to the pile in front of the Smith home, while Tammy Smith carries more woodwork to the trash on Sept. 21. The Smith family had never flooded in their Bear Branch home before Tropical Depression Imelda hit on Sept. 19.

By Kathleen Ortiz, Kingwood Park High School

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Pond water was already pooling inside Hoa Do’s living room when she woke up on Sept. 19.

She faced the water alone. With her parents at work, the sophomore began to worry.

She was afraid her parents’ cars would flood at work and make it impossible for them to get home to help.

“I had to use big sandbags to block the door so the water couldn’t get in,” Do said. “Then I had to put the water into a bucket and dump it out in the sewer in the bathroom because if I dumped it outside in front of my house then the water would enter again.

“I was afraid that the fence would be swept away, and the big tree in front of my house would collapse into my house.”

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time her Trailwood Village house flooded. It flooded just five months ago, but her parents had not predicted they would flood again.

She was one of hundreds of Kingwood residents whose homes flooded after Tropical Depression Imelda dropped almost 30 inches of rain in the Lake Houston area on Sept. 19. As soon as the rain stopped, students headed out to help friends, neighbors and strangers.

Senior Luisa Alcala spoke Spanish with ease to the Elm Grove family whose house flooded. She translated directions to the rest of her group of volunteers so they could move soaked mattresses, clothes and even a large armoire.

I was afraid that the fence would be swept away, and the big tree in front of my house would collapse into my home.”

— sophomore Hoa Do

Alcala and other members of the Kingwood Park and Blue Tide club swim teams drove around Kingwood in search of flood victims to help. They carpooled from house to house, with gloves, cleaning supplies and lots of helping hands.

“Both last time [we flooded in May] and this time the entire (swim) team was at my house demoing and getting work done,” senior Tyler Scott said. “The Kingwood community is amazing. Many people had strangers in their house helping demo. They weren’t worried that the stranger was going to do anything bad because Kingwood isn’t like that. Everyone comes together in times of need. No matter the background, when people are struggling they’ll come together and block out the past to help their neighbor.”

They have spent the past few months living in their second story as the bottom floor was being repaired from the damage caused by the flood in May.

“My family is stronger together and has connected through this event,” Scott said. “Yes, it is hard having a family of five, plus a dog live upstairs. We manage the best we can.”

Junior Sadie Lewis wasn’t nervous when she heard about the rain coming to Kingwood last week. She had lived in her house in Forest Cove since she was 2. Neighbors flooded and water got close to her house in the past, but it had never gotten in before.

This time was different. Almost nine inches of water entered the room housing her pool table.

“Right when the water started to come in, me and my dad dug trenches so the water could flow to the front and not into the back door,” Lewis said. “When it eventually came in, we put towels down. We have a vacuum that is meant to suck up water so my dad was in the back room for about two hours making sure it wouldn’t flood.”

Junior Jeff Smith’s home also flooded for the first time. He was focused on clearing out his Bear Branch home after the first floor took on water. Smith never told his friends what happened. He just got to work clearing the downstairs.

“All of a sudden, they showed up without me even telling them. It was nice,” Smith said. “A bunch of people [have helped us], a few kids from my soccer team, a bunch of people from our church, just random families that know us coming by helping us clear everything out, tear up carpet, all that.”

The Boy Scouts and members of the Church of Latter Day Saints also sent groups across town to help flood victims. McDonald’s meals, bags of cookies, water bottles and sack lunches were delivered to families all across Kingwood.

Other groups created long-term meal plans for flood victims.

The cleaning and remodeling will continue for months for many families. As students take tests and collect homework, some won’t have a kitchen table to work at. Some will live in trailers or the upstairs of their homes indefinitely.

Community groups have been working hard to help all those who flooded on Sept. 19.

“I know that if I were to be in that situation I’d appreciate nothing more but for everyone to come help,” Alcala said. “I also think that the Blue Tide family has always been so close and we’re always willing to put in the work to help anyone that needs it.”

This story was originally published on Park Times on October 30, 2019.