Mr. Speaker, last year, Humble, Texas suffered a historic flood, one that devastated the entire town. At the height of the flood, the San Jacinto River Bridge was completely submerged, cutting off passage between Humble and Kingwood. To put it in perspective, 27 trillion gallons of rain fell over Texas. That is enough water to fill the Houston Astrodome 85,000 times. Folks had anywhere between 36 and 52 inches of rain. The Humble area recorded around 40 inches of rain. Humble was hammered by this flood.
On Friday, August 25, 2017, Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane. The Texas air just felt different that Friday, ominous. Those of you who have been through a hurricane will understand what I am saying. The air pressure dropped and a breeze out of nowhere appeared. In August we don’t get a breeze! This was the first evident sign that the storm was headed our way.
As I left a meeting in downtown Houston, I decided I better call my staff and check in. I encouraged them to leave early, grab some supplies, and hunker down for the weekend. As I began my commute back to Humble, I called my friend, Merle Aaron. Mayor Aaron could tell me what I needed to hear about preparations in and around the city as the storm approaches. We talked a long time; he mentioned that the police and fire were prepared for extended weekend shifts. Little did we know about the nightmare that was coming for Humble later that weekend.
The rains and floods ravaged the city. By Sunday night, Humble’s first responders were evacuating folks from their homes and transporting them to shelters. Roads were shut down due to high water and some homes were knocked off their foundations. First responders began search and rescue missions. They worked with other agencies in boats in the high water areas. They also maintained a presence in order to keep looters out of the flooded businesses.
During the weeks following, there were no serious incidents from looters.
The first responders proved crucial during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. I cannot stress enough its role in providing a swift response during the immediate aftermath and a strong presence during the cleanup phases.
Later that week, I witnessed the devastation first hand as I rode with Mayor Aaron in his pickup truck through a neighborhood behind Deerbrook Mall called Northshire. Over 300 homes were flooded with 4–6ft of water. The roads were impassable and protected by Humble Police. First responders waved us through and immediately I could not be more proud of my city’s response during the worst natural disasters to ever affect Texans. Among the piles of garbage, and stench of rot, folks had spray painted signs that said, ‘‘We love Humble Police’’ and ‘‘Thank you first responders’’. It was an overwhelming display of gratitude toward our first responders.
The City of Humble responders worked tirelessly around the clock for many days to protect its citizens. The stories following Hurricane Harvey give folks the determination to recover from the nightmare they endured that weekend.
Harvey will not defeat the City of Humble— they proved to be Texas Strong.
And that’s just the way it is.