HOUSTON (CN) — Seventy-year-old Agustina Rivero sweeps water out the back door of the trailer she and her husband evacuated on Monday as Hurricane Harvey deluged Houston. On Wednesday, they found their elevated mobile home had taken on just a few inches of water, which put the flood depth at just above 4 feet.
Rivero grabbed a broom and began sweeping.
“She has a lot of energy, even though she’s 70,” her son-in-law Ed Smith said. “She just wants to clean up this mess.”
Their mobile home park, Redwood Estates, sits on the banks of Greens Bayou, which flooded during Tropical Storm Allison in 2001. The elderly couple evacuated Monday when it became clear the park would flood again.
“I heard Allison was bad,” Smith said. “But this was supposed to be worse.”
Harvey dumped more than 50 inches of rain on Houston — 10 more inches than Allison. Harvey has left more than 30 people dead and destroyed 43,000 homes in Harris County.
Redwood Estates is a stone’s throw from what so far has been one of the single deadliest incidents of the storm. On Green River Drive, only one of seven family members escaped a van that was swept into Greens Bayou. The driver was rescued. The van was found late Tuesday, as the waters began to recede, with six bodies inside: an elderly couple and four great-grandchildren.
Residents returned to Redwood Estates Wednesday after the waters receded. Lawns that had been green were now coffee-brown, and bayou mud covered floors. The high water mark in each home was a dappled line of leaves and mud. The neighborhood smelled like a bait shop.
Gene Yeargin, 57, spent the week trapped in his trailer. He is the park manager and also lived through for Allison. He raised the height of his home after the 2001 flood.
“It was real scary Saturday night and on into Sunday,” Yeargin said. “It just didn’t stop raining.
“I can’t believe I lived through this twice in my life. I just can’t believe it.”
Ramiro Carreon, 30, said he and his brother-in-law took Jet Skis into the trailer park to rescue their families. Once they were in, other residents requested rescues. Carreon and his brother-in-law took evacuees to another trailer on higher ground, where they were taken to another staging area before being evacuated.
“At some point we had six families in one of those trailers,” Carreon said. “I wound up spending three days helping people get out.”
Yeargin was not happy about the official rescue response in his neighborhood.
“I saw no boats at all,” he said. “During Allison, the same day, you had boats in here the same day, picking people up. This time, nobody came looking for anybody. Not a cop, not no one.
“Helicopters were flying over all day, so you have to know that saw us.”
Yeargin’s home did not take on any water, but his deck lifted up and floated away. His back yard was filled with tangled wood and piles of dead grass and leaves, which had drifted with the current and stuck on the fence.
“It’s a mess,” he said. “Now it’s just a matter of pulling stuff out and rebuilding.”
(CNS photo by Matt Cooper shows Gene Yeargin surveying the wreckage in his back yard at Redwood Estates trailer park, which he manages in Houston.)