More than five years ago Cleveland native Alltrina Grayson moved to Houston to live with her husband who works for American Airlines, but as hurricane Harvey roared toward the southwest city last week Grayson packed two large suitcases and rushed to Hobby Airport only to discover she would not make it out before the catastrophic storm would wreck havoc.
As we went to print the death toll as a result of Tropical Storm Harvey
had risen to the 14 victims and continued to deluge southeast Texas with rain and surging floodwater this week breaking the record for the most extreme rainfall on the U.S. mainland.
Since Harvey made landfall on the night of Aug. 25 as a hurricane, some areas of Houston have seen up to 50 inches of rain — more than they usually receive in a year.
“We were not getting the reports of the storm that most of the rest of the country was receiving,” Grayson explained. “By Thursday they were telling us to get out of the city so my husband and I rushed to catch a flight on Friday, but was told all flights had been cancelled.”
Grayson lives with her husband Vincent Kerney in the northwest section of Harris County in Houston and as of Aug. 28 their home had not flooded, but they could not return because the highways were drenched with rain.
A former lead background singer with Bobby Womack, Grayson was born and raised in Cleveland and attended East High School. Many of her relatives live in Cleveland and a cousin Charles Grayson works in the production department of the Call & Post Newspaper.
As Harvey made landfall on Saturday Aug. 26, a startled Grayson said, “The rain just came and didn’t stop.” American Airline provided shelter for Grayson and her husband at the Hilton Hotel, which is where they remained as we went to print on Aug. 26.
Ironically, she met a couple that had survived Hurricane Katrina in 2005 that had been forced to move to Houston. “They said they came here and decided to stay and I can’t imagine what they were going through. I dared to even ask them.”
Grayson watched the rising floodwaters from her hotel window, but she knew how dangerous it was when she witnessed water gouging through the sewer.
Thanks to the airline Grayson and her husband had shelter, but Federal officials have estimated that as many as 30,000 displaced residents may seek temporary shelter and more than 450,000 people are likely to seek federal aid.
“It’s the heaviest storm on record anywhere in the U.S. outside Hawaii,” said John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas state climatologist and professor at Texas A & M University. “And it’s still raining.”
Louisiana's governor offered to take in Harvey victims from Texas, while Houston officials open two to three more mega-shelters to accommodate people who continue to arrive at the overflowing George R. Brown Convention Center seeking refuge from Harvey's record-breaking flooding.
Gov. John Bel Edwards said he expects Texas officials to decide within 48 hours whether to accept the offer, which comes as Louisiana is also helping its own residents who were rescued from Harvey's floodwaters overnight.
President Donald Trump visited Texas on Tuesday, and the White House said his stops in Corpus Christi and Austin were meant to highlight coordination at all levels of government and lay the groundwork for what is expected to be a lengthy recovery after the storm.
Trump traveled with the secretaries of health and human services and housing and urban development, and the head of the Small Business Administration.
The storm continued to take a toll even as the weather outlook improved slightly.
Early estimates suggest the financial damage inflicted has already run into tens of billions of dollars, and one forecaster has predicted the final bill could be as high as $100 billion.
As for Grayson and her husband, they are hoping beyond hope they can catch a flight out by a soon as Thursday Aug. 31 to Cleveland.
“I plan on staying for at least a couple of months,” Grayson concluded.