Monday 20 November 2017

See the heart-wrenching scenes of Texans returning to their waterlogged homes

Homes need to be gutted before people can move back into the properties.

Gatson Kirby walking through floodwaters waist high in his home in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey
Gatson Kirby walking through floodwaters waist high in his home in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

By Nicola Irwin

A green chopping board floats in murky waters next to an open fridge and the handle bar of a child’s scooter is only partially visible nearby.

Silt clings to surfaces. Electrical items are so obviously ruined, the cabinets destroyed by floodwaters.

This is just one room in one flooded home in Houston which encapsulates the story of the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

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A water-logged kitchen in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

The storm is now blamed for at least 60 deaths while more than 50,000 people are in emergency accommodation unsure when they can return home.

The underwater kitchen stands in the home of Gaston Kirby who returned, briefly, on September 4 to survey they damage.

In the lounge, sofas are submerged and the scope of the clean-up is apparent.

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Water-logged home in Houston (David J. Phillip/AP)

Kirby and his family left the property on August 27 when about two inches of water covered the ground.

“I called 911 for 15 minutes; no one answered. My neighbour had a canoe and saved us,” said Kirby, a father of two.

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Gaston Kirby in his flooded home

The water climbed by more than five feet through a combination of rains and the release of waters from two reservoirs. When he walks through the living room now the water is still above his knees.

In another picture, chairs have been placed on to kitchen counters in an almost futile effort to save them, a silty residue covers the breakfast bar and stools.

It looks as though swimming might be the easiest way to get from the front door.

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Chairs sit atop a counter inside the flooded home of Gaston Kirby

The scene of devastation in Kirby’s home is replicated time after time in Houston, Corpus Christi and other parts of the Texan coast where Harvey carved out a path of destruction.

Afhley Lluvia, left, and her mother, Julia, remove clothing from their home.

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Mother and daughter sort out clothing damaged by floodwaters after Harvey (David J. Phillip/AP)

Pictures from the mammoth clean-up operation demonstrate the extent of the problem. It’s not just the houses that are damaged, but anything which came into contact with the water.

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Volunteer Brock Warnick removes drywall and insulation from the home of Julia Lluvia (David J. Phillip/AP)

Julia and Afhley Lluvia had help from volunteers in removing drywall and insulation damaged by the waters.

They had a garage full of sodden and ruined clothing. Outside their home stood a pile of waste which used to be their belongings.

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Volunteer Alex Brewer removing items from the home of Julia Lluvia (David J. Phillip/AP)

Jesus Ramirez at work on his home.

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Jesus Ramirez works on his home after it was damaged in Hurricane Harvey

Jesus Ramirez too had a pile outside his home. As the floodwaters subsided he got to work removing the wooden floors from his property and carting wheelbarrow loads to the front garden.

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Jesus Ramirez after removing damaged wooden flooring from his home in Houston (David J, Phillip/AP)

More flooding could still be in store. Utility companies have warned residents in western parts of the city that releases of water in overtaxed reservoirs could bring additional waters to already damaged homes.

Press Association

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