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Luke Schumacher
Luke Schumacher

Moore Residents Trapped in Houston, Help Family Friends

Oct 04, 2017

Imagine being retired and deciding to spend time at a beach house for a few days, only to end up getting stuck because of nasty weather. For a Moore couple, this is what happened when they went to the beach and were trapped by hurricane Harvey.

Cecil and Laura Clay drove down to their beach house in Crystal Beach, TX on August 22 to enjoy the last few days of summer. Typically, they stay a few weeks at a time, but on this trip they had to stay longer than expected.

The days leading up to the Clays' trip, hurricane Harvey was not a newsworthy hurricane. It was just a small tropical storm forming in the Atlantic. Nothing to worry about in Houston, Texas and definitely not something to derail their trip. 

“We went down a week before [Harvey] was even something, before people knew there was a hurricane coming,” said Cecil Clay. “By the time it got to be a category three or four, we made the decision to stay.” 

After the storm passed, the couple's electricity was spotty at best, sometimes off for up to 26 hours at a time. They had water restrictions and were told they had to boil water for five minutes before using it. But these are just minor inconveniences considering the Clays' house did not suffer major damage.

Some of their Houston friends were not as lucky. 

“One of our friends from the beach had a son who lives south of Houston,” said Laura Clay. “His house was flooded with a few feet of water.” 

The Clays took advantage of their time in Houston by helping with post-hurricane clean up. Cecil, a retired OKC firefighter, assisted in demolition work for the family friend’s house. 

“Everything four feet and down we took out. We cut out all the sheetrock and insulation,” said Cecil. “We stripped the wood laminate floors. The only thing left was concrete floors and the studs.”

The demolition was piled up on the side of the road, alongside debris from the other houses in the neighborhood. There was also wreckage on the side of the highways – large clumps of grass, pieces of wood, tire tread.

The flooding took a huge financial toll on the residents of the Houston area. 

“Some people didn’t have flood insurance because there had never been a devastating flood in the area before,” said Laura Clay. “The probability of the kind of flood happening was one-in-a-thousand. Houston has never had this kind of rainfall.”

Weeks after Harvey hit, there is still a lot of work to be done. Cecil compared tornadoes with hurricanes and the lag time before clean up and rebuilding can begin.

“Tornadoes can pass through and parts of homes will remain undisturbed,” said Cecil. “Floods are much more widespread. When flood waters get high, everything gets destroyed and nasty. It takes a long time for it to go away.”

So what can the residents of Moore and South Oklahoma City do to help?

“If there was anything Oklahomans could do to help, I would say that any kind of monetary donation would be the best and most appreciated,” said Laura. “If you know someone who knows someone in the Houston area, donate directly to them.”

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