Escaping from the floods, finding new friends and perspective
Written by MaryJane Mudd, American Red Cross
Photography by Jacqueline Koch, American Red Cross
They thought they could ride it out. The Davis family—parents Bobbie and Teresa Davis and six children —had never before seen flooding in Houston’s Westador Community.
“We brought all the kids upstairs along with food, blankets and a toaster oven,” said Bobbie, a disabled veteran who was once a chef for the United States Navy. “On Monday, our community helped each other out. Our boy Da’Marcus rode on rafts and delivered food to older people down the road,” he said as Da’Marcus beamed with pride. “We expected things to get better.”
But they got worse. Sitting around a dining table at the American Red Cross shelter at South County Community Center in Spring, Texas, the Davis’ and their children, Ashley, age 6, Kayla, 10, Erica, 12, Da’Marcus, 15, Jerkyma, age 18, and Eric, 22, reflected on the horrifying Tuesday afternoon evacuation that eventually led them to safety.
“The National Guard said it was time to go and we agreed. The water was to our waists on the first floor,” recalled Teresa, a nanny who is also an educational assistant. “We put Kayla and Ashley in a boat, placed our dog Bella in a tub and walked through water that was up to our necks.”
She described an anxious moment when Bella jumped into the water and disappeared. The kids screamed in confusion. But moments later, to her great relief, the dog resurfaced into her arms. When asked if she was afraid, Teresa glanced at her daughter with a wry smile and said, “Only when Kayla lost her footing and pulled me under the water. We talked about that sort of thing ahead of time and she still did it!”
Recently treated at the hospital for chest pains, Bobbie became exhausted trying to move his legs against the force of the water. He was happy to see his caregiver waiting for the family once they reached dry land.
“She drove over that day but couldn’t get through because of the flooding. By the time we got there she had Googled the names of shelters and found this one,” he said as he patted the table and looked around. Bobbie’s caregiver took them in multiple trips to the Red Cross shelter, where the family received dry clothes contributed by community partners and a warm meal. To assist families with pets, Red Cross coordinated with local partner to provide a safe place for Bella.
“They’ve been just great to us here,” said Bobbie. He met Red Cross volunteers, many of them veterans, who shared military stories. They made him feel welcome and ensured the shelter was clean and the food comforting. “A Red Cross volunteer also made some calls so I could get my heart medication. I didn’t have to go without my meds.”
Kayla and Erica though content at the shelter, looked forward to getting back to school and “Dad’s great cooking.” Ashley piped up announcing that Orange Chicken is her father’s “very best dish.” Her older brother, Eric, was more reserved and quietly added that he hadn’t yet “wrapped his head” around losing his home or evacuating in neck-high water.
Bobbie and Teresa feel confident all will be well. “You know,” said Bobbie, “We aren’t people who look back. We look forward.” Teresa added, “God gave us our house and our car and he will provide again. You know what else? I think this is good for the kids. It will teach them humility.”
Just as the Davis family got up and started to go different ways, Kayla stopped and whispered, “It’s made me appreciate stuff. You know, everything around me.”
Maybe her mother was right.