For many at Mac, Harvey hits close to home

Kelsey Tasch

As Hurricane Harvey hurtled closer to the Texas coast, Texans all over the state cast their eyes onto screens. Switching to The Weather Channel, scrolling through Twitter updates, and tuning into countless broadcasts, all were desperate to be informed on the progress of the havoc. Still, there are some things that simply cannot be felt, described, or captured through the eyes of a camera.

While Austinites just had to don raincoats and umbrellas, and McCallum students had a two-hour delayed start on Monday, Aug. 28, the Houston area continued to be bombarded by Harvey’s wrath. Many McCallum students and faculty felt Hurricane Harvey’s force secondhand, having family either deployed, evacuated or rescued from the midst of the storm.

Sophomore Annika Katz’s cousins in the Houston area were rescued from atop their neighbors house — stranded as flood levels rose above eight feet.

“It was a very big shock knowing water could get eight feet higher,” Katz said. “Houses and highways have water all the way past up here,” She raised her arm above her head, showing the height that the water rose to. “It was apocalyptic.”

Katz’s cousins were saved just in time. They were spotted by a rescue team on a boat that was searching through the neighborhood that then brought them to safety.

Katz was not the only McCallum Knight who had family directly in Harvey’s path. School librarian, Jane Farmer, had elderly relatives living in Corpus Christi, who were evacuated early in the morning Aug. 25. The family’s original plan was to have their nephew stay with them to wait out the storm. As news spread about the severity of Harvey, however, the plan changed at the last second. The three packed what they could fit into their car and drove to Austin.

“[I] felt thankful that I had a way to get my loved ones here,” Farmer said. “Many people didn’t. They could not have gotten in the car and driven; they are not that physically able, but we had someone that could do that.”

Katz’s family was also very fortunate that their cousins were safely rescued.

“Now knowing they’re safe I feel a lot better,” Katz said, “and insurance is going to cover their house.”

Not only were those who had family in the area affected, but some who have family members in the National Guard, or who are in the National Guard themselves, were deployed to Houston and the coast.

Sophomore Ena Nolan’s father is in the military, specifically the National Guard. He has been deployed three times since Nolan was born, to Afghanistan, Iraq, and now to Katy, Texas.

“There’s been natural disasters before, but there’s never been one bad enough that [he has] actually had to go out and be deployed,” Nolan said. “Usually, he stays in the office and figures out the logistics.”

Social studies teacher Michael Sanabria is also in the National Guard. Fellow social studies teacher, Katie Carrasco, received the news of Sanabria’s deployment over the weekend when she got a call from him. Sanabria called her from his car, already driving down to San Antonio, where they’d then helicopter down to the coast. Tuesday night, the two talked again.

“They were having trouble even getting to Houston,” Carrasco said. “They weren’t able to find places to land.”

While Sanabria was at the coast to help with rescuing and helping people through the disastrous flooding, Ena Nolan’s father was there working on infrastructure.

“He called us and said he was being deployed down to Katy, Texas,” Nolan said. “One of the [nuclear] plants exploded or was on the verge of exploding.”

It’s hard, with day-to-day rush, and the hectic of the beginning of the school year, to recognize the life-altering events that transpire. With Hurricane Harvey just next door, however, the wake of the disaster hit close to home. For many in the McCallum community, it could not be ignored.

If you wish to donate to victims of Hurricane Harvey, please participate in either the ongoing charity drive at McCallum, or visit the Red Cross disaster relief page: