Their plight no longer commands the nation’s attention, but the victims of Hurricane Harvey are still out there.
In neighborhoods throughout Houston, residents are working to pick up the pieces after Harvey’s winds and rain devastated parts of the city.
Tosha Atibu’s family had to flee their home in northeast Houston when the floodwaters came last month. Now Atibu, her husband and their four children are living in their gutted home as they start the long road to recovery.
“I know it’s not a safe place to be, but … I don’t know where else I can go,” Atibu told CNN.
Like all of their neighbors, the family has pulled everything out of their flooded home and placed the rotting items on the curb for pickup. Debris lines the curbs of all the streets. The area is pretty much deserted at night and in the early morning as residents adjust to their post-Harvey lives. It’s the new normal — people living part-time at home and part-time at a hotel or shelter, a frustrating arrangement that will go on for months.
About 20,000 people remain in shelters or hotels right now, three weeks after Hurricane Harvey — which killed 75 people — rolled in from the Gulf of Mexico and inundated metro Houston with a record-setting 50 inches of rain. There are still several thousand people who don’t have electricity. And residents returning to their homes are now dealing with mold issues and disease-carrying mosquitoes.
City officials and others worry about getting money for the recovery from the federal government. Harvey caused an estimated $75 billion worth of damage.
The struggles go on beyond Houston, though. People in the hard-hit towns of Beaumont and Port Arthur are still struggling to find basics like food and water.
Putting it back together
But pretty much everyone in Texas sends their thoughts, their hearts and their prayers to the people of Florida and the Caribbean who were pounded by Hurricane Irma — because if anybody knows what they’re going to face, it’s the folks hit hard by Harvey.
There are signs of progress: Children are back in school in Houston, Beaumont’s water treatment plant is getting fixed, and Interstate 10, which looked like an ocean during the flooding, is open again.
More than 120,000 people and more than 5,000 pets were rescued or evacuated during and after Harvey tore through, said the Texas Department of Public Safety.
And people in Texas are relying on one of their strongest natural resources when it comes to times of trouble — each other.
Harvey survivors like Lathan Oliver admit it’s hard putting their lives back together and dealing with all they’ve lost.
“As you can see, it’s a total waste,” said Oliver, motioning to his possessions, rotting on the curb in the Texas heat.
But he’s most thankful for what he and his neighbors didn’t lose.
“We didn’t lose a life in here,” he said. “Everybody made it out alive.”