Pictured is Kayti (McCarthy) Chung’s neighborhood, which took on a lot of water. Being in a neighborhood that was originally surrounded by water, her house was safe because of its elevation. However, she was able to witness the ravaging effects of the hurricane and watched a tornado lay waste to houses around her.
Hurricane Harvey has ravaged the Houston area and former area residents have been caught in its wake.
Former Marysville resident Andy McCarthy is one of many displaced by the hurricane, which is predicted by weather media company AccuWeather to be more expensive than hurricanes Katrina and Sandy combined. For McCarthy, the threat of the hurricane provided him a constant journey to dry land.
“Growing up in Ohio, you get the occasional thunderstorm or rain shower and it’s relaxing, to where you can sit out in your garage or on your back porch and watch the rain and feel calm,” he said. “I think now, when I hear rain, it makes me more nervous than I did before, but I still love Houston.”
The Search for Dry Land
McCarthy was born and raised in Marysville and graduated from Marysville High School in 2001. His father and grandfather ran McCarthy Pharmacy on South Main Street, where he spent a lot of his time.
In 2012, McCarthy took a job in the Houston area.
He shares a house near Tidwell Lakes with a roommate, who worked at a hospital. About Aug. 22, the roommate warned McCarthy about stocking up with supplies.
By Aug. 25, there had been only mild floods in his front yard and backyard retention pond, but lines to go to the store were getting massive. He went out for more supplies, filling them in bags and preparing himself for the rising waters.
McCarthy knew his house was going to flood and needed to make sure his cats and dog could get to safety. He contacted a neighbor with a two-story house and was able to stay with her for a bit. Despite the rising water, the neighbor would still fry fish and bake bread and deliver them to friends nearby.
“She might have waited too long if I wasn’t there to nudge her (and tell her) the flood water is getting closer to her house,” he said. “Everything is kind of random and wonderful in its own way.”
By Saturday, the rain had intensified. The neighbor’s house began to flood, and McCarthy knew he had to leave.
He locked his cats in the neighbor’s upstairs bedroom to protect them and set off on a through the knee-high water, with his dog. He went through his neighborhood, looking for friends or family to stay with. Luckily, he was able to find a man from Louisiana, with a thick accent and a boat to help people evacuate.
Through boat rides down his street, he witnessed people in his community clinging to dump trucks for safety and traversing through the water with their life’s possessions above their heads. He found refuge at North Shore Senior High School, but his dog had to be left outside the building.
“I had to tie him up in a place where it would have rained on him all night,” McCarthy said. “I tied him up and tried to comfort him for a long time. When he wasn’t looking, I tried to sneak away, but I could still hear him whimpering. It was absolutely heartbreaking.”
A friend had contacted McCarthy, saying they had a townhome he could sleep at that wasn’t affected by the floods. To his luck, McCarthy was able to catch a bus to meet the friend. The bus that was transporting sick people and pet owners and was perfect timing to get his dog out of the rain.
Since then, McCarthy has reunited with his roommate, who had to stay at the hospital for days due to the floods, and was able to recover from his all-day journey Saturday with homemade chicken noodle soup and some cold beers.
His goal now is to try and eliminate the chances for mold to grow in his home. Thursday, he began removing carpet, relocating furniture to his garage and tearing down his drywall. He’s on the lookout for Federal Emergency Management Agency representatives while rallying family members to help him repair his flooded home.
Witnessing the Wrath of God
McCarthy lives on the east side of Houston while his sister, Kayti (McCarthy) Chung, lives on the northwest side in Cypress, Texas. With her experiences, she’s been able to help volunteer to help displaced neighbors and assist her brother with restoring her house.
Chung was born and raised with her brother in Marysville, where she graduated from Marysville High School in 2003, and taught in the Fairbanks School District for five years. To pursue a career in teaching, she left for Las Vegas in 2013, and eventually leaving for Cypress to start a family with her new husband, Jonathan.
She heard the news about the flood on Aug. 23, when her mother sent her a text asking if she was prepared. Living in the city, she naturally bought her food and necessities in bulk, but she still tried to stock up on supplies to last her family days. By Aug. 24, the lines in the store had gotten massive, and resources were getting scarce.
“People were freaking out, and I almost got ran over by the carts (at the store),” Chung said. “I started freaking out myself, because I was possibly not taking this seriously.”
She prepared for the worst. Chung filled two of her four bathtubs, moved her supplies upstairs and even created a diaper-duct-tape barrier to seal off her house’s doors.
The preparation paid off and Chung’s preparation paid off as her house was left unscathed. However, she knew she was stuck.
Her street, which is near a lake, has elevated homes, but everywhere else around her was submerged. Her street was flooded, but her house remained dry.
“We’re stranded. We can’t get out for food and we can’t get out for water,” she said. “Ultimately, it was still stressful, but in the aftermath, we were able to help others because we didn’t have damage.”
By Saturday, however, the situation worsened with the threat of tornados looming nearby. Adding to the chaos were rumors from neighbors of alligators swimming down her street. A thick, black cloud had descended near Tuckerton Road, near her house. Chung said she was so close, she couldn’t see the funnel, only a huge black cloud. It passed her house, but other houses near her weren’t as fortunate.
When everything cleared afterward, Chung sought to help out her neighbors in need. Whenever she can, she’s been driving to drop off extra food and supplies to people, hoping to rescue them from a situation worse than her’s.
“We just went through something where we had no control over the situation,” she said. “What I can do for others, I have control over that, so I kept thinking about what I can do.”
The Second Home
Diana Hoffman, a Marysville resident and former Marysville Middle School teacher, grew worried about her son, Matt Hoffman, as his house was taken over by water in Humble, Texas.
Diana said Matt had lived in Marysville, but went to college in Boston, graduating in 1996. He got a job in Houston and has been living in Humble for six to seven years.
After a family vacation to Mexico, Diana and Matt got to Texas on Aug. 25, when the rain started to pour. She took a ride to Dallas to fly back to Marysville, while Matt went back to Humble. He got there at 6 a.m. Saturday, wading through water to make sure his family was safe.
She said Matt and his family tried to stay in their two-story home, but by Saturday, it started taking on water. While Matt’s home had only a foot, the rest of his neighborhood was submerged in several feet of water. Matt repeatedly lost contact with his mother.
Matt and his family were eventually rescued by a fire truck Monday, but they had hardly any clothes or food to keep going. Fortunately, for them, they had a second house to live in that wasn’t affected by the floods.
“I’m devastated for them,” Diana said. “It’s good they have their faith and they’re healthy, but I know how hard it is to lose everything and start all over again.”
Though Matt’s house is “totaled,” she said they’re trying to recuperate from the loss.
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