Hurricane Harvey hits home for Simpson students from Texas


by Morgan Frideres, Assistant Copy Editor

INDIANOLA, Iowa — Fear. Evacuation. Cancellations. Destruction.

Hurricane Harvey made landfall Aug. 25 on the coast of Texas, according to the National Hurricane Center. The hurricane came with 130 mph winds and a record 52 inches of rainfall. Though the disaster struck hundreds of miles away, it hit home for some Simpson students from Texas.

“It’s a lot scarier than other natural disasters, just because not everyone knows how to swim really, so just thinking about the fact that you can be asleep one moment and wake up to water up to your neck is scary,” said Essance Porter, a student from McGregor, Texas.

Porter’s immediate family wasn’t affected by the storm, but her extended family experienced flooding and are fighting to retrieve family heirlooms from their house.

Amarissa Raley is originally from Dallas, but she moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, with her ill grandmother during her senior year of high school. She wasn’t in Corpus Christi when the hurricane hit, but her friends were.

“I had been in contact with a lot of friends from Corpus the night before the hurricane, and they were all very scared,” Raley said. “Most of them evacuated, but for the ones who didn’t, I was very nervous. They had been posting stories on Snapchat of what it looked like outside, and I had experienced a lot of flooding when I lived there, but never anything like that.”

Raley said stores were sold out of food and water because people were preparing for the flood to last awhile. One of her friends called and told her one man bought out three stores of water and were selling the packs for $75 because he knew people needed it that badly.

The storm caused property damage such as broken windows and car damage, but Raley was relieved to say her friends and family are safe. People she didn’t know personally who were close to Corpus Christi lost their homes due to flooding and hurricane damage, but she said people came together and offered free housing in the meantime.

Patrick Long-Quian, of Houston, also experienced flooding in his house and said in some places, there was around 36 inches of water.

“My church, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, has sent work crews to help with clearing out the house and ripping out soaked drywall,” Long-Quian said. “My family has been extremely busy getting things prepared for the insurance adjuster to come by, but luckily my family’s everyday life has not been affected all that much.”

Erayle Amacker’s family lives on the outskirts of Houston. She said the streets were flooded, but luckily her house was intact.

While the flooding has affected her whole family, it particularly impacted Amacker’s mom, who is a teacher. Amacker said school is canceled for her mom until Friday, but school was supposed to start Aug. 15. She said they’re more than likely going to add the dates on at the end, which will make for a long year.

Amacker is an international undergraduate associate, so she arrived at Simpson a week early and missed the storm. Her family came with her to Iowa, then got hit with the storm shortly after they arrived back home.

“A lot of people were asking me why we didn’t evacuate earlier, but we didn’t know to evacuate,” Amacker said. “When I came to Iowa for school, there was no talk of the hurricane. It was a pretty new situation, and they thought it would be less than what it turned out to be, so they didn’t tell anybody to evacuate. Then the next day when it hit, it was a Category 4.”

Amacker’s family was safe, and she made it to Simpson without troubles. Her roommate, Rose Sullivan, who is also from Houston, was not so lucky.

“Rose wasn’t able to come to the first week of school because the airport was flooded, and they canceled her flight two days before,” Amacker said. “Then when they reopened the airport on Thursday, all the flights were sold out already, so they told her you can either go to Austin, which is two hours away, San Antonio or Dallas.”

Sullivan was eventually able to get a flight out of San Antonio and finally arrived on campus Sunday.

The hurricane was a disaster, but something positive came out of it: The storm brought people together.

“Overall, or at least I can speak for Houston, we have become very progressive in terms of infrastructure and building our city to make it one of the greatest cities, but in doing that, we kind of lost our sense of community, family and togetherness,” Amacker said. “The good part about the hurricane is it kind of brought us back together as a family.”

Porter echoed Amacker, saying it brought not only those from Texas together, but the whole country, with outside help from other states. She said there are many negatives from the hurricane, but it’s nice to see the good in other people.
Amacker said although it’s not raining anymore, there’s a lot of damage and recovery from the aftermath of the storm.

“Since we’re in Iowa, we’re more privileged, per se, so it’s our duty to make sure we still think of ways to help people in Houston,” Amacker said. “Not just because we have students from Houston, but also because it’s the right thing to do, to help someone in need.”

Chaplain Mara Bailey sent an email to students Sept. 5 addressing the hurricane and naming ways students can get involved. Her suggestions included:

– Making a monetary donation to the United Methodist Committee on Relief
– Considering a service spring break trip through the Religious Life Community
– Donating to the SC Cares program

Bailey also said the academic dean, Kent Eaton, has been in touch with colleges in the area to see if there are tangible ways for the Simpson community to provide support for their needs.