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East Texans wait, hope as loved ones cope with Harvey

By Meredith Shamburger
Aug. 30, 2017 at 12:37 a.m.
Updated Aug. 30, 2017 at 7:06 a.m.

Michelle Gilbert helps other volunteers Tuesday at the Pope John Paul II Family Center at St. Matthew's Catholic Church in Longview unload donated items to be sent to families in need along the coast. Gilbert has family members  in the flooded areas around Houston.

LeTourneau University staff member Stacie Francis says she's been glued to the news all week, watching as Hurricane Harvey descended upon Southeast Texas and her family who live there. She keeps hoping for good news.

"I've had it on the Weather Channel at home from the time I wake up in the morning till I go to bed at night, just hoping to catch a glimpse that maybe it's taken a little turn and sparing them some of the water that's expected," Francis said. "I listen to the radio; I check it multiple times while I'm at work. I check the Weather Channel, watch the news on the internet with the weather just to see if I can catch a glimpse of them."

Francis' father and brother are in flood-affected areas north of Houston. They're safe right now, with her father at a nursing home in Humble and her brother in Kingwood, but Francis doesn't know if her father's house in Aldine has been flooded or not. The main road south, U.S. 59, remains impassable in some areas.

Hundreds of miles from their families, many East Texans like Francis can only watch and wait and hope.

Michelle Gilbert, along with her fellow employees at Bubba's 33 restaurant in Longview, were busy Tuesday helping out with a donation drive organized by state Rep. Jay Dean, R-Longview.

Gilbert said her cousin in League City had to be rescued from rising floodwaters by a lifted Hummer towing a boat. She also has family in Clear Lake, a Houston suburb that's seen flooding, and another cousin who got stuck in Katy trying to get back to her Houston apartment.

Gilbert said it was scary talking to her cousin in League City before the rescue because she had to try to keep herself and her cousin calm at a stressful time.

RELATED: East Texas couple helps rescue Houston flood victims after Harvey

"She's smart; my family's smart," Gilbert said. "They're making great decisions, and I know they were going to be OK, but it was just the waiting period and talking with her and seeing her anxiety and her worry."

Longview resident Rebecca Davila's family in Brenham decided they would wait out the storm because they feared losing their home and cars. But flooded roads mean they're stuck.

So Davila has been checking in to see how they're faring. On Monday, she said everything was good.

"I kind of worry about it getting worse because nobody knows where all that water's going to go," she said. "I'm assuming it's going to get better, maybe because the rain has stopped. But I don't know. I hope it gets better."

Francis said Tuesday that the whole situation has her nervous.

"It just, the water has no place to go," she said. "I've lived there, I grew up there and it's just got me very anxious."

She plans to drive Friday to visit her father, as long as roads allow it, she said. She's hoping the Aldine house hasn't flooded.

RELATED: How you can help with the Harvey relief effort

"Unfortunately, I learned that my dad ... canceled his homeowner's insurance and his auto insurance," Francis said. "He has dementia, and we were not aware that he had canceled all of his insurance, so we're hoping and praying that his house does not flood."

Gilbert talked to her family before Harvey hit, trying to get them to come up to East Texas. That didn't happen.

"I think in hindsight, they definitely would have come if they would have known it was going to be this bad, and I really wish they would have still," she said.



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