Flooding in Texas has dis­placed nearly 35,000 people. | Courtesy

Two current stu­dents and one alumnus saw both the dev­as­tation and the resilient spirit of com­munity as hur­ricane victims in Houston came together to clean up and rebuild.

Sweeping through Houston and southeast Texas and dumping 52 inches of rain, Hur­ricane Harvey forced 34,000 people from their homes, caused damage in 130,000 homes, and led to the death of 31 people, according to the Wash­ington Post.

Freshmen Corrie Patrick and Lily Erickson moved to campus from Houston just days before Hur­ricane Harvey hit. The hur­ricane did not damage Erickson’s or Patrick’s homes, but they watched from Hillsdale as the hur­ricane damaged many homes in their com­mu­nities.

“Watching this all unfold from Hillsdale has been crazy,” Erickson said.

Even stu­dents safe in Hillsdale felt the effects of the dangers facing Houston.

“I just got worried because in like 22 hours it went from a depression to a Cat­egory 1, then 2, 3, and when it finally made landfall it was Cat­egory 4 hur­ricane,” Patrick said.

One friend of Patrick’s was trapped in his car in the midst of the flooding.

“He was driving and sud­denly there was eight feet of water in front of him, so he turned into a stranger’s dri­veway,” Patrick said. He was trapped in his car for almost eight hours. The rains were so ter­rible that he stayed with the stranger for a few days.

“I was so thankful that he met such nice people to welcome him into their home,” Patrick said.

Both Erickson and Patrick are grateful their fam­ilies and friends were kept safe throughout the floods and evac­u­a­tions.

“My family was really lucky in that we didn’t have any damage from the hur­ricane,” Erickson said.

While Erickson and Patrick watched the storm from Hillsdale, Shannon Baldwin, a 2014 graduate from Houston, expe­ri­enced the hur­ricane firsthand and saw the extreme destruction and loss in Houston. Her family was safe, but they were anxious as they watched neigh­bor­hoods flood and homes suffer extreme damage.

“Each morning and evening we would listen to the news about which areas were facing flooding, and chances are we would know at least one family in that area,” Baldwin said.

Since the end of the storm, Baldwin has vol­un­teered in her com­munity and said she has been amazed by how much was ruined by the rains and how much people have lost

“No one could have antic­i­pated 50 inches in two days,” Baldwin said. “It is mind-bog­gling to walk down the streets of neigh­bor­hoods that com­pletely flooded and see the piles of fur­niture and dis­carded flooring. It takes about 20 people an entire day or so to clean out a flooded home. It is gru­eling and smelly and very hot.”

But despite the damage and the ter­rible loss, com­mu­nities have been coming together to rescue and rebuild after the storm. Baldwin saw neighbors res­cuing neighbors as her friends took their trucks and kayaks out to rescue people out of their own homes.

“A couple of my guy friends got in their trucks and took their boats, some­times kayaks, to search and rescue people out of their neigh­bor­hoods,” Baldwin said. “Who would have ever imagined having to be boated out of a two-story home?”

But despite the damage, Baldwin, Patrick, and Erickson have all seen over­whelming numbers of people vol­un­teering to clean up.

“I feel like it’s really the Houston pop­u­lation, like the Texans, that have huge Texas pride and are helping out,” Patrick said.

Erickson was encouraged watching the com­munity come together to help.

“The coolest thing, I think, that has come out of this hur­ricane is how everyone has for­gotten all the divi­sions between them and decided to take care of the com­munity,” Erickson said. “No one sees dif­fer­ences in skin color, wealth, religion, eth­nicity, they just see Hous­to­nians.”

Baldwin also encoun­tered the resilience of the com­munity firsthand as she and many others came in full force to clean up and rebuild.

“This mass effort truly shows the com­passion and servant hearts that have emerged through the storm,” Baldwin said. In fact, when Baldwin and her family could safely get out to vol­unteer, they were actually turned away by two shelters because they already had over­whelming numbers of dona­tions and vol­un­teers.

So despite the dev­as­tation many Texans have wit­nessed and expe­ri­enced, there is a resilience in the com­munity as many come together to rebuild and recover from the damage. Rain, not even 52 inches, can douse the spirit of Houston.

“The hope in all of this is our faith in God and in the love that people are showing for one another,” Baldwin said.