Students Weather the Effects of Harvey

Hurricane Harvey directly impacted Rockport, Texas, about 30 miles north of Corpus Christi, according to The New York Times. As it moved further from the coast, it downgraded to a tropical storm and has dumped “catastrophic rains” over southeastern Texas, including Houston and surrounding areas, as well as southwestern Louisiana.

The storm has taken at least 18 lives, prompted thousands of rescues, and caused extreme flooding that may continue all week.

Members of the Texas Tech community have felt the effects of this storm in a variety of ways. Bryant Dunn, who graduated in May 2017 with a master’s degree in accounting, recently moved to Houston to start his new career. He recorded the video below.

“Work is closed until Wednesday at least, but I imagine we won’t go in until next week as the rain is continuing to fall,” Dunn said.

While Dunn’s three-story townhouse in midtown has not flooded and still has power and running water, he said his biggest concern right now is food.

“We have some left, but most of the grocery stores are closed or out of food. We had to go to Spec’s liquor store for food and water,” he said.

He joked that they may be low on food, but they have three different types of liquor. As far as being stuck inside, he said he is lucky to be with a friend and not far from others to keep him entertained.

Some homes in the storm’s path were not as lucky as Dunn’s. Tech student Steven Muenster’s parents had recently moved to Rockport to build a new house near the beach after his father’s retirement. They were living in a condominium while construction was almost complete.

Steven Muenster. Maddy McCarty/The Hub@TTU

“The condominium blew away in Hurricane Harvey. It got completely leveled,” Muenster said. “Their house, they don’t really know.”

Since his parents evacuated to a friend’s house in Austin, they have not been back yet to check the damages.

“They’re going to go back on Wednesday or Thursday to see how it’s doing, then they’re going to find somewhere to live that’s not in Rockport, but nearby,” he said.

Muenster said he is not too worried about the homes being damaged, but he does worry for his parents.

“I know they’re going to be super stressed out with all their belongings being gone,” he said.

He hopes that they will be able to rebuild their house in Rockport, since that has been their dream after retirement for years.

Another Tech student, Ezra Chairez, has been deployed with the Texas Army National Guard to help victims of the storm. He is not exactly sure where he is headed or what he will be doing, and he said he has never been deployed like this before.

Ezra Chairez at summer training. Photo provided by Chairez.

“As I was getting ready, I felt a sense of responsibility to my state and the people of the gulf coast,” Chairez said. “I don’t know what to expect, but I’m ready and eager to help in any way I can.”

While he had been prepared for his first day of classes this semester, his plans quickly took a turn as he found out he was being deployed and leaving Lubbock for the time being.

“I’m slated to graduate in December and this has me worried about how I’m going to catch up when I get back, assuming I get back in a decent time,” Chairez said.

He said he has been in communication with his professors and the dean of the College of Media and Communication.

“They’ve all been very kind and willing to help,” Chairez said.

Other students with ties to the affected area feel regret at not being able to go help their loved ones. Christian Gibson, a current Hub@TTU employee, is from Missouri City, Texas, a suburb southwest of Houston.

Photo of Christian Gibson and his father from Facebook.

“It feels very helpless because I’m eight hours away,” Gibson said. “I feel like as soon as I would drive over there, I would be met with nothing but flood water, trash and chaos.”

Gibson’s 16-year-old sister and father are staying with a family friend outside of the affected area, along with his two dogs and one cat. He said he contacted many friends in his hometown to check on them.

Since he knows his family and friends are safe, he said his biggest concern is damages.

“I keep seeing reports that it could be… maybe to 35 billion [dollars in damages],” Gibson said, “and the storm isn’t even over yet. So who knows what kind of trail of damage and debris it’ll leave behind?”

He said there was a tornado near his home, and friends have sent him pictures of damages in places that he immediately recognized.

“When I go back to Houston, it’s definitely not going to be the same.”

Editor’s Note: The author of this story has personal ties to the sources interviewed.

About Maddy McCarty

Maddy is the Graduate Executive Director for The Hub@TTU. She loves reading, writing and petting her cats. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism, is pursuing her master's in mass communications and wants to continue reporting on important issues.

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