By Joey McWilliams
FRIENDSWOOD, Texas – Tiffany (Hannan) Citty is a self-proclaimed Okie. Before Hurricane Harvey, she said she didn’t know the meaning of ‘flash floods.’
She does now.
“It didn’t rain Saturday here at all,” Citty said. “We were completely dry.
“And then Saturday night at about 10:30, it started raining really hard. My mailbox was underwater and water was at our door at midnight. Within two hours, water had risen about six feet.”
Friendswood is in the greater metropolitan area of Houston to the southeast of Houston proper, right in between Galveston and downtown Houston. Tiffany, a Durant native and DHS Class of 2007, and husband Curtis live in Friendswood and have been in the middle of one of the biggest meteorological events in U.S. history.
The Cittys were fortunate the water did not come in their house.
“We were hearing that we were going to get quite a bit of rain, but we didn’t know how bad. Nobody knew it was going to be this devastating.
“I went to Home Depot earlier in the day Saturday to get a couple of supplies, you know flashlights and sand bags. But they were out of sand bags. So they said to get bags of soil, it will work the same way. We wound up getting six big bags of Miracle Gro – all they had left. It did work.
“Somehow, by the grace of God, it stopped there.”
Where their house is located, Tiffany has been able to get out and drive around to some places, but she said that about half of Friendswood was underwater. Rain has caused creeks in the area to swell as well, adding to the flood.
During part of her time out, Citty drove by a house that she and her husband had looked at earlier in the week as a potential house to purchase.
“My husband already said no because it was too close to a creek and not a safe house to buy. I was curious and drove back by and there was water over the windows, probably three or four feet high. It was definitely underwater.”
She said there are many houses with water into the second story. And car dealerships that are completely flooded under as well.
Tiffany’s husband Curtis works in the area of emergency management as a fire protection and safety specialist at Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, and is also a volunteer with the fire department. A graduate of Haworth High School, he studied fire protection at Oklahoma State University.
He was on the trucks involved in active rescue on the first day, helping to evacuate nursing homes among other things, and manned the command center the following days.
Tiffany said the department was at first receiving up to 2,000 calls a day.
“It’s slowed down a little bit,” Curtis Citty said. “We’ve had so many resources come into play, which has been great, but has also been kind of overwhelming to try to sort through.
“Even with donations, they’re referred to the disaster after the disaster. We have so many donations that have come in, you get to a point where it’s kind of a challenge to work through that on top of the other things at hand.”
He said that’s where they are at right now, trying to figure out what they have and what they need on down the line.
“We’re still having calls come in and trying to take care of those as soon as possible, but it’s been a very long event, as floods go. Even last night, I was able to get back in for some sleep and the water started rising again here, so we were having to stand back and relocate some of out stuff.
Curtis spoke about what was difficult to think about, which was that not all the first responders were coming back to homes that had stayed intact.
“That’s the unfortunate thing,” Curtis Citty said. “I know one person that had four feet of water in his house and he’s been out there for the past three days rescuing people. That takes a lot.
“The toughest thing in that when this started was that I was not with Tiffany. I was at my station. So when we were called out for our first rescue assignment, it wasn’t far from my house. I could see what was by, but we weren’t able to talk for several hours.”
As the waters recede, the event is still ongoing, but the Cittys do have their home and electricity. And each other.
And with sending praises to all the first responders who have given so much and worked so hard through this crisis, they said that last part was what was important.