Story and photos by Ekland Durousseau, Red Cross contributor
The afternoon of September 17, Geneva Hewell left home heading to Austin for a quick trip — not thinking anything out of the ordinary would happen.
“We weren’t really aware a storm was going to happen,” said Hewell. “We just knew it was supposed to rain.”
Like many others, Hewell had no idea the effects of the oncoming storm would cause such widespread destruction.
As she made her way to Austin, Tropical Storm Imelda quickly accelerated and made landfall ahead of estimated predictions.
Hewell’s son, his girlfriend, and her mother were home when the rain started in earnest. They watched the surrounding swales quickly fill with water and all too soon were trapped by the rising water.
Realizing they would not be able to get out, Hewell’s son waded out in the murky water and took the precaution of draining some of the gas from their car tanks to have extra fuel for the generator. It was a decision that would pay off when flood waters took nearly a week to recede.
Hundreds of miles away in Austin, Hewell was safe, but her son was quickly running out of supplies. Hewell made a few phone calls to friends and managed to get supplies delivered to her son by boat.
Hewell is well-versed in surviving floods. She lost her home during Rita and sustained heavy damage during Harvey and now Imelda.
Thankfully Hewell has insurance, but the payment won’t arrive until the end of the month.
“It hit us hard, but I have friends who are helping me out with a place to stay and — now that the Red Cross has stepped in and is helping out — I have a few more options,” said Hewell. “Until I really get my life back together, (the) Red Cross is helping me float until I can get other kinds of help.”
Some of the help she received connected her to community partners that specialize in other resources.
“My glasses broke and the caseworker was able to connect me to a local optometrist,” said Hewell. “I mean, almost anything I need, Red Cross has always been there and if they can’t help me with it they have always told me other places I can go to get the resources I need for help.”
Recalling all of the hurricanes and floods she has been through, Hewell is nostalgic. “Red Cross helped me with Harvey a tremendous amount and they are always there for me when I do need help for times like this. It’s amazing what they do.”
With bright eyes and a grateful smile Hewell remarks, “Red Cross is just a tremendous help to me at all times when I’ve needed them. That’s why I always look for Red Cross. At times like this, I mean, they’re like my savior. They really are…they really are.”