CYPRESS, TEXAS—A Haweater who now lives in Texas has seen up close the devastating impact that Hurricane Harvey caused when it ravaged Texas recently.
Gore Bay resident Leigh Major is the brother of Greg Major, whose home just outside inside Houston was flooded after being hit by Hurricane Harvey. “He was lucky in a sense, because his daughter Stefainie (Jahner) and her three kids visited Greg for the summer after her husband had been deployed for six months on the U.S. Aircraft Carrier Nimitz, but flew to Atlanta for a few days then drove back to the home in Viriginia. Greg drove her vehicle back to Atlanta for them on August 25, so none of them were in Texas at the time Hurricane Harvey hit. Everyone in his family was there in Atlanta when Harvey hit.”
“Yesterday the water was receding from the flooding,” Leigh said on Friday, explaining that the water in his brother Greg’s house had been about a foot high. “He was lucky in a sense the water only rose one foot in his house, compared to some of his neighbours and many others.”
Greg Major (who was born in Mindemoya grew up in Sudbury, but with his parents and siblings spent every summer on Burnt Island and Gore Bay). When contacted by the Recorder this past Sunday afternoon he was back home in Texas. “I live in the north west corner of Metro Houston, in the community of Cypress.”
“My subdivision was totally flooded,” Greg told the Recorder. “It looks like a war zone here, like Chechnya, there was about 10 inches of water throughout my home,” he told the Recorder. He explained, “On August 25, when I was driving my daughter’s vehicle to Atlanta, I drove through the outer bands of the hurricane between Houston and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I had the windshield wipers on high and had difficulty seeing it was raining so hard.”
“A neighbour of mine, Enrique Escobar, who has three sons between the ages of 5-17, did not leave their home,” he said, noting that that no one figured Harvey would be that bad.
However, “my neighbour had two feet of water in his house,” continued Greg. “They had to evacuate and had to call a boat to come and get them on the Sunday morning after the hurricane went through.”
After driving his daughter to Atlanta, “my original plan had been to fly back. But on Wednesday, since I was going to buy a vehicle anyway I bought a truck in Atlanta, and filled it up with supplies, spare gas, water, and other items that I knew would be needed. And then on Friday my ex-wife Anne, my son Ethan and two of his high school football teammates drove from there and I arrived from Atlanta at 5 am Saturday and started cleaning.”
“By then the flood waters had gone down,” said Greg. “What we found was everyone’s home in the neighbourhood empty, with furniture, bathroom fixtures, sheet rock and walls on curbsides.”
“We are so blessed with all the kindness of people in Texas,” stated Mr. Major. “On Friday morning a Mormon church group was going door to door in the neighbourhood trying to help people out. By then all the rest of my neighhours’ homes had been emptied, and I filed a claim with my insurance company but the adjuster hadn’t called at that point.” Members of the church were later encouraged to clean up and remove the carpets, furniture and anything else wet, in his house.
“As an example of how bad the flooding was and the contamination, between Wednesday and Saturday the water had receded by the shoes in my closet were mouldy, the mould had started growing on the shoes,” said Mr. Major.
“When we got home at 5 am on Saturday morning the carpets had been taken out,” said Mr. Major. “Then at 8 am Saturday 16 of my co-workers arrived and removed all the electric plug covers, bottom two feet of drywall, the wet insulation and all the doors inside the house as they were swollen and would not shut.”
At 1 pm that same day, “a fellow member of the Curling Club of Houston came over and cleaned for a few hours and I applied a bleach/water mix to all the exposed two by fours to prevent them from moulding,” continued Mr. Major. “Then on the Monday morning a group of eight people from the Caatholic Church came and vacuumed, wiped and mopped everything in sight.”
“Then on Sunday, a man and a lady walked up our driveway and gave us two fans. When I asked what group they represented they said, none, we just wanted to help in some way,” stated Mr. Major. “So they went to a hardware store and filled the back of their SUV with box fans and drove through the flooded neighbourhoods handing them out.”
“Today, my house is a little more clean, swept and the rooms have been mopped out,” said Mr. Major.
Mr. Major acknowledged that what television viewers have been seeing on the affects of Hurricane Harvey is devastating but, “it is worse here than what you see on T.V. You can see up the street for instance there is a pile five feet high of furniture etc. stretching right across the entire front of houses.”
“A lot of people have lost everything they own. And areas that have never flooded in history have been hit severely,” continued Mr. Major.
“The insurance adjuster came on Monday,” Mr. Major told the Recorder in an email this past Wednesday. “He said my insurance company would probably deny my claim as I did not have flood insurance. As the historic flood of April 2016 did not flood my house I did not get a flood policy. He said that when I receive the denial letter to FEMA and I may be eligible for some FEMA assistance.”
“No, right now I’m not living in my home. FEMA approved me staying in a hotel up to September 25,” said Mr. Major. “What I believe I’m going to have to do is live in my gutted house until I can garner the personal funds to rebuild. I’m going to put a cot in one of the rooms, and live in a shell of my home for now.”
Mr. Major is the son of the late Mildred and Frank Major of Gore Bay.