My Hurricane Harvey Rescue - Open Letter From Deidra Fifee-Farley

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To Whom It May Concern

My name is Deidra Fifee-Farley and I would like to share with the world my experience with the wrath of Hurricane Harvey.  I am a single mother of two boys Dominick – 19 years old and Dononvan – 12 years old.  The rainfall from Harvey began on Friday, August 25, 2017.  We literally watched the waters rise hour by hour in the Grand Mission Subdivision located in Richmond, TX.  The torrential rain came pouring down on Saturday, August 26, 2017 (Donovan’s birthday) with no break in sight.  The water rose rapidly from the side walk, to covering the entire front and back lawns of my home.  I kept the garage door open where I watched the water reach the entrance of my garage.  Finally, I closed the garage door as the water began to enter and I was force to watch the continue rise of water from the windows of the second floor of my home.  I packed all food we had in the house, and loaded an ice chest with perishable food items.  I looked out the window in dismay as flood waters rush through the streets like a raging river.  I periodically checked down stairs to witness the amount of water entering my home.  Initially it appeared as if a little water was able to enter the home, but to my surprise the elevation in the foundation lead the water to the rooms that were carpeted.  The water that was entering the home was absorbed in the carpet first.  Once the carpeted rooms were saturated the tiled area of floors began to accumulate to an ankle high level.

About 2AM, Sunday morning I was finally able to close my eyes.  I prayed with all my heart that my boys and I would be safe and that the waters would descend.  About 5AM, I was awake again and noticed there was no relief in rain or rising water.  We were officially confined to the upstairs portion of my home for the entire day.  The day was filled with uncertainty, anxiety, worry, and helplessness.  As the day turned to night I was hopeless.  It was very hard to maintain my sense of composure to portray and demeanor of safety and security to my boys who kept asking, “Mom, what are we going to do?”, My response, was “We are going to continue to pray and seek guidance from the Lord”.  My adrenaline was at an all-time high, so no matter how exhausted my mind. Emotions and body was from the devastation happening all around me, I was not able to sleep.  About 3AM, Monday morning I heard rescue boats in the neighborhood.  I alarmed my boys to get up and pack a survival bag.  The sound of the rescue boats was quite relieving, however as I looked out the window, I was not able to see any boats, I only heard them.  After hearing the boats and not seeing them for over 5 hours.  I began to panic.  All I knew is we needed to get out of the house.  The weather was forecasted for more rain, reservoirs were being released, and rivers were about to crest.  I didn’t want to stick around to see the aftermath.  All I could think about was being trapped.  As afraid as I was, I followed the decision of my children to walk through the waist high water, so that we would be more visible to the rescuers we heard in the neighborhood.  A living nightmare was created after struggling to lift leg by leg in the rushing waist high waters, holding on to my survivor bag, wiping my face from the blowing stinging rain water, and ever so carefully trying not step into steeper water, avoid snakes and whatever else that could have possibly been in the murky waist high waters we were waddling through for about four blocks in the neighborhood.  Finally, just as we had hoped, we saw the rescue boat, and began screaming and waving our hands, “Over here, Over here”!  They spotted us and came to our rescue.  It was a police department rescue team.  We hopped on the boat, and went house to house rescuing other neighbors until the boat was at its capacity.  We were brought to the CVS on Grand Mission Blvd. There were dump trucks waiting to bring survivors to higher grounds to Kroger on FM 1464.  There, family was able to pick us up and provide shelter.  While with family, I immediately began to contact my insurance company and apply to FEMA for aid.

My boys and I are still currently missed placed and staying in a hotel on a FEMA voucher.  The hotel was only able to book me for 4 days.  I don’t know what I’m going do at this point.  I do not have flood insurance, so my insurance company has denied any liability for my loss.  I have provided all required documents to FEMA in addition to applying for an SBA loan.  The follow up is massive.  When calling FEMA to follow up, the wait time is over 2 hours before getting someone on the line. Then after waiting for so long, all I was told is that things are running behind, because some areas are still flooded and they cannot give me a timeframe on when a FEMA adjustor will be assigned to come and access the damage to my home.

The flood waters have descended in my neighborhood, and I have been able to in get into my house to begin the restoration. All carpet, furniture, and other flood damaged items have been removed from my home.  I am working without professional guidance right now because I do not have the funds to pay a contractor or replace any damaged items.  The entire bottom floor of my home includes, a kitchen, dinette area, living room, dining room, office and bath and all have been damaged by the flood waters of Hurricane Harvey.

I just began a new job as an Educational Diagnostician in Cypress-Fairbanks I.S.D.  I won’t receive a paycheck until September 15, 2017.  My last paycheck was June 5, 2017, savings has been depleted, and I am currently financially strapped.  I am humbly in need of financial assistance and host of other aid to restore my home.

Sincerely,

Deidra Fifee-Farley