Eyal Enav discusses his experience with not only Hurricane Harvey but two previous floods in his Meyerland home. Despite difficulties in Harvey, including dealing with a broken wrist resulting from tripping in storm waters, Enav moved quickly into remediating the house after getting four feet of water in the house.
Harvey caused the issues so widespread that getting the contractor help they needed took longer than expected. Enav speaks fondly of the help they received from the community in pulling out damaged furniture, drywall, and flooring from the thrice flooded house. Additionally, after two previous floods, Enav is now an expert on the necessary steps and talks about his loyalty towards previous people when it came to purchases big and small. Once the damage was accessed, Enav and his wife, both engineers, sat down to decide what to do. After careful consideration of remediation costs, costs to elevate, they decided to sell and build elsewhere. Enav and his wife chose to build close to Meyerland to continue to be close to the Jewish community there, relating stories of people who left and felt disconnected.
Interviewee: Eyal Enav
Interview Date: September 20, 2018
Interview Location: Home of Eyal Enav, Meyerland, Houston, Texas
Interviewer: Mark Goldberg
INTERVIEWER: Today is September 20, 2018. This is Mark Goldberg interviewing Eyal Enav at his house in Meyerland for the Resilient Houston: Documenting Hurricane Harvey project.
MG: Thank you, Eyal, for sitting with me and talking with me. So eventually, we will get to a discussion about your experiences during Harvey. But why don’t we start with a little bit about your background, where you’re from, where you grew up.
EE: Okay. I was born in Israel. I’m actually eighth-generation born over there. Originally — I mean, the family originally is from Russia. But then many things left, and eventually, I got there at one point — raised in a city called Bat Yam. It’s south of [0:01:00] Tel Aviv — and went to a religious high school. So I was kind of an Orthodox, but in Israel call — they call Kippa Sruga. So those are the — somewhere — there is no equivalent here in the United States. So it’s not Chabad, but it’s not Conservative. It’s something in between them — and went to the Army in Israel and then — and then served in the Army for five years, got out, and was accepted to Israel Institute of Technology.
And I learned — and I studied in Technion for industrial engineering management. During the Army service, met my wife. She is from American origin. And we got married [0:02:00]. Between getting out of the Army and starting the studies, we got married. And we both went to — and studied together at Technion. Finished that, we worked in Israel for a few years. I had my little business of some software development, and she was working for Israel Military Industries. And after several years of working over there, they — my business got too big, so I needed to hire more people or sell my business. And — which wasn’t much, but was enough. And I sold my business, and actually, my software was running for about 20 years. So it was, I guess, something good that came out of that.
And meanwhile, her parents moved back to the United States and eventually got to Houston. And in [0:03:00] — during the — during college, after two years, we came to the United States to visit them at the summer when we bought a car. We drove all over the United States for about four months as a vacation. And then I really fell in love with the place. I mean, we’ve seen parts of the United States that I don’t think too many Americans see. And we met people in the campsites and in the places that are really the beautiful Americans. We met some fantastic people. And so it was obvious that, at one point, we’ll end up over here.
And about — we were married about nine years, and we decided to move here. And we came to Houston since her parents were here. And it was easier for us to, you know, be here because of them. And we start looking for a job, and for me [0:04:00], it was tough. It took several months. I sent about a hundred and fifty resumes. I got rid — not long ago, I got rid of all my files from that time. That was in — that was in ’89. We had a huge file with all the letters that I sent, and all the resumes I sent, and all kind of excuses why people gave me for not hiring me — lack of American experience, lacks of — I mean, all kind of — I mean, anything that you can imagine, I heard over there. That was before all the rules that — things that you cannot say. But compared to today, at least I got answers. And finally found a job in a company that actually hired me since they thought that the — I mean, the manager thought that he can take advantage [0:05:00]. And eventually, what happened there is that I took his position. So that was my first job here in the United States.
The interesting thing is that each one of us was making on our first job double the what we — what we were making in Israel. So we really — things were okay. We said we’d be here in Houston — if we make it, we stay. If we don’t make it, we move. For me, it took a hundred and fifty resumes. For my wife, it took one resume. She sent one letter. I mean, I remember that it was a company that were hiring anything and anybody under the world — under the sun — whatever is available other than her occupation. And she sent them a letter and said, “I see that you are hiring all of those people, but you — somehow you didn’t mention, you know –” And she was a cost engineer. “You didn’t mention cost engineering, and I am one of the best.” And [0:06:00] sure enough, she got the job. They didn’t ask for it. It was amazing. Anyhow, so we worked, and that’s it. You know, that continued.
At one point, we moved to Sugar Land. We lived with my in-laws for a while. Then we rented the apartment not far from them. This is the Fondren Southwest. So we rent an apartment not far from them. And then once we both had jobs and that, we said, “Let’s buy a house.” And we bought a house in Sugar Land — in Sugar Mill neighborhood. The neighborhood called was Sugar Mill. And we lived there for — I think it was for about five or six years — something like that. We had two kids that were born over there — when we were living there.
And at one point — now, the kids are old enough — needs to go to school. And [0:07:00] we start — we start thinking we want Jewish education. We have to have the Jewish education. We don’t want to have them going in the neighborhood, especially since we had a Nazi living next to us. It’s completely different story, but actually Nazi. He actually — at the end of the street was a real estate agent, a Jewish real estate agent. He put the cross in front of the house, and he put it on fire. I mean, really, we have all kind of weird stuff in that neighborhood. It was — excuse me. I need to stop that.
So we were living in Sugar Land, and we thinking what to do. The kids, at that point, were going to Bertha Alyce, which is part of the JCC. This is the old Bertha Alyce. It’s before it was connected to the JCC. It was in the [0:08:00] neighborhood of Sandpiper around Fondren Southwest — that area over there. And we coming every day. We bringing the kids here. And then at the end of the day, we take them back home. We said that that’s — we cannot continue. And especially since now we getting to a point that my daughter getting to pre-K — no, she was — yeah, she’s going — no, she’s going to kindergarten. And my son is a three — three years younger, so he’s still a baby. But we need to do something.
And we start looking around, and one day, we went to — we were invited by a friend of ours to see Beth Yeshurun. And we toured the school in Beth Yeshurun, and we said, “This is where we want our kids to go to.” But for that, we have to move to live here. We cannot do all the driving back and forth [0:09:00], especially when activities in the afternoon start. And so we need to do something about it. So we found a house on Valkeith. And we bought the house, and we moved over there. That was in Meyerland, so that when we moved to Meyerland. It was in ’95. So 1995, we moved to Meyerland. And we really like the neighborhood, and we lived over there — we lived in that house for about eight years or more — 10 years. And the kids grew up and went to Beth Yeshurun. And then they went to Emery/Weiner, and everything was okay over there.
Meanwhile, my mother-in-law passed away. My father-in-law, he say that he needs to — he wants to move to an old-people home and that. And we said, “You don’t need to. You come and live with us.” So we were looking, and we found the house — that [0:10:00] house on Cedarhurst. And we bought it in beginning of 2005. And we completely remodeled it. I mean, we gutted the house, and we rebuild. We put new — every system was new in the house. Everything was brand new from 2005. And once we moved in, we had a whole wing just for him — so the bedroom and a study and bathroom and everything. And once we moved, he didn’t want to move. So he stayed. He continued to live in Fondren Southwest. And we start living over there, and the kids went to Emery/Weiner and went to — then to college. My daughter went to New Orleans to Loyola University there. And my son went to U of H, and everything was good over there until 2015.
MG: Can I ask one question before we get into the flooding?
MG: So you mentioned [0:11:00] the main reason for moving from Sugar Land to Meyerland was to send the kids to Jewish Day School.
EE: To be around Jewish neighborhood. That was 100% of the reason.
MG: So that was my next question. In addition to sending them to Jewish Day School, did you become affiliated or associated with other Jewish institutions?
EE: Yes, we joined — we joined the — we joined Beth Yeshurun. And then in 1995, we moved over here. We were a member of the JCC before since my kids were going to Bertha Alyce. Actually, I was part of the committee and the people who moved Berth Alyce from wherever it was then to the trailers that they had over there behind the JCC where the tennis court used to be. Alright, that’s where they put the trailers over there until they were rebuilding the Bertha Alyce over there. So I remember all of those trailers [0:12:00]. We were — my daughter went over there. She was in four — she was four years old. And my son were there in the baby only. They used to take the kids in stroller, and there was nine of them sitting in a stroller. And I have a picture of my son as a baby sitting — walking around the JCC. So that’s — yeah, that’s ’95 when we moved over here.
MG: Also, was it a transition for you to go to Conservative shul since you grew up more Orthodox?
EE: I grew up — I grew up — and for me, it’s a different situation, right? So I grew up an Orthodox, but I — at one point, I said I don’t want to know everything. And it’s a different discussion, right? And I completely kicked the bucket or whatever you want to call it — kicked the [unclear, 0:12:55] or left it completely.
EE: And then when the kids grew up [0:13:00] in that, we started — I finally figure out that the Jewish tradition, especially since we live here and we don’t live in Israel — it’s important to have the Jewish tradition — not fully Orthodox since I had no intention of doing that but just to go back to some of it. And we started to celebrate all the holidays and go to shul during the High Holidays, the other holidays, and we did a sukkah. Actually, got to a point that my son’s brith was in a sukkah since he was born in between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. And he’s brith was in a sukkah.
And that was — for most America — it was something that never heard of — had that in the sukkah. So we have — a whole thing. And that brith was in my — in Sugar Land. That’s where we’re living — in our backyard. I had sukkah. And that’s where [0:14:00] his brith was. And that’s it. And then we came here, and we start little by little to go — not too religious. But for shul, we celebrated the holidays. We had meals on holidays. We did the sukkah on Sukkot, and light the menorah candles on Hanukkah, on Purim went to services. The kids got dressed. You know? The whole the thing as it has to be.
MG: So it sounds like you became immersed in the Jewish community in Meyerland?
EE: Yeah, more or less, more or less. I still — they — I did not participate in too much in any of — I did not volunteer too much to places. I tried several times, and somehow, I didn’t feel comfortable to — the things that I would try to volunteer to and help [0:15:00]. But I participated in [unclear, 0:15:04]. And here in Beth Yeshurun, there is 100 Jewish Men, groups of — we have been going — and we were going over there for about 17 years now, I think — since the beginning. Not too deep involved, but I’m not disconnected either. So it just — enough that I feel comfortable with it.
MG: Uh-huh. Okay, and so you were heading to 2015. So you’d been living at Cedarhurst for 10 years by then.
EE: By that point, we living in Cedarhurst for 10 years. And the Cedarhurst, since it was built in 1964, never flooded. At least, we didn’t see anything. And then came Memorial Day flood. Not much — I mean, there’s not much to do over there. We had about a foot of water in the house — maybe a little bit more but just about right — about that [0:16:00]. My wife was visiting Israel at the time. My son and I, we both were there. And we ran around and put things up. And that — interesting, so we didn’t — we lose some furniture — not too much. We did not lose too much furniture and things over there. But, of course, all the walls had to be open and cut two feet high. And all the internal had to replaced. And the house had to go through a whole — a whole remediation to get rid of the water and that. It’s — it was really funny. We were sitting over there. Electricity never went out. We were sitting over there after, you know, putting everything up and just resting. My son was resting on the kitchen counter. You know, it was — actually, we had an island so on the island. We had a couch — not a couch, like a [0:17:00] TV couch, right? So I was sitting on that chair and leaning down and enjoying. The TV was on, and we were watching what was going on for the whole night. And then at one point, we hear people calling in and talking about. And there is a woman called in. She was about a block away from us, and she said, “I just opened the door of the house, and the water coming out.” So I got up, and I opened the door. And the water start going out, right? So as the water was going out, we started to help the water go out. And we clean. My son and I, we cleaned the whole thing. And the neighbors start tearing everything apart. We had no idea what to do, so we were sitting over there. And for couple of days, I mean, like in a shock, we were not to know what we need to do and all of those. And eventually, I had the remediation company that came over there. And they [0:18:00] ripped everything off, and they cut all the walls and everything. The volunteers that came, there were not as many as in Hurricane Harvey. There were some. They just brought us some food, some drinks.
MG: Where’d they come from?
EE: I have no idea. There were some came from churches around — some from the JCC. There were people just sitting at home making sandwiches from whatever they had at home and just going to give the people. It was really amazing. It was — that’s the — 2015 was really unbelievable the way the neighborhood — everybody came and looked. And some friends came, and they brought papers. And we start packing the house and moving. By the way, since 2015 until we moved to this house here where we live currently, it’s about three years — three years and four months [0:19:00]. That’s about right. We moved eight times. We moved eight times. And I can count each one of those. Some with everything, something partial things, but we moved — we lived in eight different places until we finally got here. And hopefully, this is it.
MG: So did you move after the Memorial Day flood?
EE: So after the Memorial Day flood, we first moved to my father-in-law since his neighborhood did not flood. And we’ve been with him for a little bit. Then there was somebody that was looking to rent a house of his mother that was just passed away two, three months before. She moved to that house. That was not far from my father-in-law. We’ve been there about a day and a half before the air conditioning died. And the house was smelling so bad, and anyhow [0:20:00], it doesn’t matter the whole story. We moved back to my father-in-law. And we’ve been with him. Then we rented an apartment. And we moved to that apartment. Meanwhile, we decided to rebuild our house. I mean not to elevate it — just to fix it. And Legal Eagle was the contractor that helped us to get the house all set and, you know, choosing all the cupboards and the floors and the painting and whatever other — painting the walls and the cabinets. And the whole thing was put together, and we moved back to the house in about March — late March of 2016. So we’d been out of the house about 10 months at that point.
MG: So I think I know where you’re going, but before you go there, how [0:21:00] did you — since this was the first flood, how did you learn about the whole process of remediation, and FEMA, and the insurance?
EE: Okay, so that’s interesting. So that’s interesting. So first, we — the remediation I learned just by talking with the neighbors and seeing what the neighbors. My good friend came one day and said, “There is this adjusting — adjuster company that — they work for you. They are helping you to set up all the forms and everything for FEMA and that we recommend to hire.” And the vice president came, and this was Jansen International. And we talked with him, and we hired him on the spot. By the way, in the flood of 2018, they were the first call we made. From still in the water in the house, I made the first call to them. And I said, “I’m hiring you guys to help me [0:22:00] on this flood as well.”
So those guys came in. They took inventory. They took the pictures of the house, and they working on the phones. Meanwhile, FEMA assigned an adjuster for us. And the adjuster came. Lucky for us, we hit very well together. It was David Salomoni [0:22:26] from Florida. Nice guy. And he saw that, you know, I’m not trying to cheat or — just whatever I have, this is — this is what I want to be fixed — and since we had the flood insurance, and we had the maximum flood insurance for the content and the maximum flood insurance for the dwelling — the house. And from that point, he worked with Jansen directly. So I was not even involved in all the discussion the two of them [0:23:00] has. And from the first offer until the last offer, those guys take about 10% out of whatever money we got from FEMA. They take the 10%, which was the difference between the first offer by FEMA.
The actual money we got was more than that, so they definitely earned their keep or their pay or their work or whatever you call that. They earned it, and it was great. I mean, besides we learned about the whole — the situation, what you need to do, and what you don’t need to do, and what’s — definitely take pictures of everything. This time, we were — in that flood, we were not as good as the next flood since the next floods we already knew exactly what we needed. And we were teaching everybody else, too — what to do and how to do it, you know, since we were now the experts, right? It’s one of those things that you learn [0:24:00] in life that you say, “I wish I didn’t have to learn it, but now, I know it. And I hope I’ll never have to use it again.”
MG: Uh-huh. Okay, so you moved back into Cedarhurst in March of ’16.
EE: Yes, and then April of ’16, we had another flood, and — the Tax Day flood. The Tax Day flood, we had water coming in the house, but it was about an inch — not even an inch. So we lost all the carpets. We had — the bedrooms had carpets, so we lost all the carpets. Since the bedroom — you know, it’s enough that part of the bedroom is full of water. For the whole bedroom, we have to take the carpets out. So we lost that, which was good, since the carpets my wife chose, none of the family liked. So we upgraded the carpets — and willingly. We upgrade the carpets and the floors. And lucky, it was [0:25:00] — we didn’t have to replace all the floors. About one-third of the house, that was laminate. And since it was brand new, it was still available. And we bought the same thing, and they put the same thing again over there.
So we — and we did not move out of the house at that point. We kept on living over there on the slab since we took everything out on the slab for a while, you know, with all the machines drying and everything drying. And actually, we actually bought everything that we needed since, at one point, it was hard to find all the equipment that we needed. And that’s it. So we came back. Everything was okay. We, again — we have the same — the same adjuster from FEMA and the same — this time, we didn’t even call Jansen since we did not them, they guy said — we told him, “Hey, we moved in. We showed him the receipt that we fixed the house. Here is the expense what it [0:26:00] cost us to do again.” And I think this time it was a hundred percent since it was brand new — I mean, not even a month. So we — then everything was okay and until — and until —
MG: Until the Harvey flood.
EE: – Harvey. Harvey happened on my birthday, so that was a — the one thing is that happened to us in between, we were living in an apartment. I have a burst of my — the gallbladder. And I had to have an emergency surgery to get the — to take the gallbladder out.
MG: This was after Tax Day?
EE: That was — that was in July of 2015, so after — before Tax Day but after Memorial Day. We were in the apartment, and I remember I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t do anything — just sitting over there until the operation [0:27:00]. You know, I calmed down, and everything came back, and everything was — so that was — that emergency, we were over there. And during the time, my wife lost her job, too. That happened in October of 2015, so now, we are in trouble since we don’t have the same income. But actually, no, that was — she lost — yeah, she lost in October of 2015. And that was good since she worked closely with the contractor — with all the stuff that needed to.
So we were on the — on the stuff to know that we doing whatever we fixing and doing it so correct. And everything is wonderful and doing okay. I was working for a company — a local company called Benchmark Electronics. And they really were very fine with me. I mean, I took as many days as I needed off. And there was really a lot of help from [0:28:00] my friends over there and no complaints. And everything was — I mean, I have no bad word to say on anything that happened in the neighbors. I mean, I’m not going to go into discussion if the flood should have happened, didn’t have to happen, if somebody did in medical center, or and didn’t do in medical center. I leave that out. It just I’m looking for my point of view the way I was treated the whole time from FEMA through everything else was no complaints.
I do have a problem with FEMA since we did not get any help on — in the subject of housing. So that’s something we had — we got housing from them for two months. And then everything else we have to do ourselves. The SBA loans, they were — that’s a whole different story that I found out that [0:29:00] was — the terms were not what they advertised to be. So I know we didn’t take any loans from those people. And we managed to live with money that we saved, and through our salary, and loans from family and friends. And we managed throughout the whole process.
MG: When you bring up this personal view of the flood and how good your neighbors were and everything, you separate that from FEMA and also the med center. Are you saying that your overall outlook is to not concern yourself with these other problems?
EE: Definitely, I’m concerned since, otherwise, I would have continued to live over there, right?
MG: Was there ever a moment, either after the Memorial Day or the Tax Day, where you all [0:30:00] talked about leaving?
EE: We never talked — it was obvious. We like the neighborhood. That was never a question. Always, we wanted — we continued to live in this neighborhood. No, that was not even a question. We like it. It’s a nice neighborhood. We like the people around. All of our friends, all the Jewish institution, everything is around here. We heard stories of other people that decided to move away and move to Pearland or move. And they were basically disconnected, so suddenly people that — today, they just come and, you know, “Let’s go somewhere, or let’s do something on a weekend or during the week, or whatever happens,” you know, when you live 30 minutes away, it’s apparently difficult for some people. I don’t know if my friend would be the same. But for those people, that was the situation.
And two, three families we met that moved, they were sorry that they made that move, so [0:31:00] we definitely decided that we’re not going to move. We thought for a while to move to the Fondren Southwest. And that was part of the decision, but we’ll talk about when — we’ll talk the after the — whatever happened to us after Hurricane Harvey, right, since we didn’t get there yet.
MG: Okay, okay. So how long did it take to bring the house back from Tax Day? You stayed there, but how long did it take?
EE: We didn’t stay there. Oh, for Tax Day?
MG: Yeah, Tax Day, yeah.
EE: For Tax Day, I think it was a month and a half maybe or maybe two months. But that’s it since it was cupboard, and it was the floor. That’s all. We didn’t have to do anything else. And the floor, it was obvious. We — I called the contractor that just finished. I mean, we just moved it. So I called the contractor, and I called the guy that we bought the carpets and the floors from. I mean, that’s the same company [0:32:00] that we’ve been — I mean, we know those companies. We’ve been doing business with them in 2005. And we did business with them in 2015. And now, it’s 2016, and we’re doing the business with the same guys.
I would — usually, this is the way we are. If there is somebody that to do business and I like — and they were decent to me, and they were owners, even though that they might be more expensive than anybody else, I’ll continue with them. And the same thing is with the insurance. The insurance company — my insurance agent, she was fantastic on all taking care of us, worrying about us, and that. So when things happen — and I bought a new house, I buy a new car, I don’t even look at prices. I don’t compare prices. I just go to them, and I say, “Okay, here is what I have. Let’s do it.” And it’s automatic. I don’t — it — to me, a relationship with a person is much more important than another hundred bucks, two hundred bucks, or whatever. And I’m [0:33:00] going to save, which I have already the contact. I have the mutual respect. I don’t see any reason why I need to move. And I’ve been with the same people for I don’t know how many years. And it’s worked well for — I mean, worked very well for us.
MG: Uh-huh. So then the same guys fixed the —
EE: The same guy came in, and they looked around. And they say, “Okay, we know. The only thing is you need to come and choose a carpet unless you want the same carpet.” And we said, “Not the same carpet.” We didn’t — we really didn’t like it. The problem is we tried to save expenses, right? So we bought the carpet that was not as good as the original we had over there. And we — and we decided that we’re going to invest a little bit more and have a better-quality carpet.
MG: Uh-huh, uh-huh.
EE: That’s what we did. The floors, it doesn’t matter. It’s laminate, so whatever laminate we put, we put laminate. So we put the same thing. We had to choose [0:34:00] a carpet, and then it took them time to order it and came and install it. And no problem over there. And they promise they — in that point, they felt sorry for us, so they cut some of the commissions and that. At least, that’s what they told me they did. And I — and I told you — decent people, and I like. And there was no problem, so we moved in. And I think by — in that case, by July, we were — July 2016, everything was back to normal, and everything was wonderful. And we enjoyed the house.
MG: So let’s talk about 2017 then, Harvey.
EE: 2017, Harvey. Okay, that happened on my birthday.
EE: So we knew it’s coming. If you remember, Saturday, they said the storm will be Saturday. Nothing happened on Saturday. We were walking around the neighborhood and say, “Okay, we say we are saved.” We invited the — my [0:35:00] son, and he had a good friend of him that was living in his house. And we invited him to dinner on Saturday night — Saturday evening. And then we told my son, “Look, he is living by himself in his house. Go stay with him.” And the two boys left. And they — those guys, they live on the corner of Rice and Braesheather — one blocks away from the bayou, right?
EE: Okay, so you know where it’s going.
EE: And then came Saturday night with the water were coming. I think it was Saturday night when the water were coming, and the storm started. It started about 2:30 in the morning. I know since I very light sleep. And I get there and turn on the TV, and they’re starting to talk about the hurricane is bringing water. And there’s rain going, and then we noticed that water coming into the house [0:36:00]. And my wife — my wife said, “Okay, let’s put some towels.” And I said, “I don’t think towels will be helping us.” So we went around and whatever wasn’t — somehow, I don’t even know why, we had the feeling that the was going to be more than what we had — the one foot that we had in Memorial Day flood. So we start putting — everything that was low, I start putting up. And we raised everything up.
And then water start coming and start coming and kept on coming. At one point, we have a picture of the three cats sitting on the bed watching the news with us. So we were all sitting there watching the news to see what’s going on. And the water kept on coming. And there was no end, right? So the one foot was over. We couldn’t see now. The water was dark. We couldn’t see what we’re walking now. The floor we bought was inexpensive [0:37:00]. And I complain — I mean, I told them that after the fact. That’s the bolt starts popping out. And the reason for the bolt popping out — and the way they do the floor, they put the plastic sheet. And then on the plastic sheet, they putting the boards for the floor. And somehow, water got under the plastic sheet and was raising the whole sheet. And there were like pockets of bubble of air. And I guess — and that’s got the bolts out.
So as we were walking — at least, when I was walking out in the house trying to — I cut myself — you should see. My legs were almost raw meat — not really raw meat, but I had a lot of cuts and a little bloody, not too much. And I went out and start taking all the electrical outlet, whatever we had in. And this time, this — it’s kept on going up. So we [0:38:00] — and at one point, we said, “What we doing? What we doing? What we doing?” And I said, “Okay, the best thing is –” We had in our attic — there was — we created a huge space. There was floors over there and everything for storage. And I don’t remember if it was me or my wife that we said, “Let’s go up to the attic.”
So we put — we brought the TV over there. We brought some chairs, and a table, and some water, and the cats, and the cats’ litter, and cat food, and some food for us. And we were sitting over there. And the water kept on going up, right? So we said, “We need to find a better solution.” And we called around — start calling around. “And we need rescue. We need rescue. We need rescue.” And that — and finally, somebody said, “Where are you?” And I said, “Inside the attic.” And they said, “Get out of there. It’s dangerous place to be unless you have a way to break the roof.” At that point, I said, “I don’t have anything to [0:39:00] break the roof, but I do have a [unclear, 0:39:03].” You know, what do you call that big piece of metal? And of — thing that I can use, but it’s in the garage, so I went down — went to the garage in the dark. And I picked it up, and I brought it back in. And we had something that we could broke — break the roof just in case if we need it.
But we said, “That’s not a solution. And we need the risk, right? We need to be evacuated.” So we went down. We got the cats into the cages. That’s another story that I had to walk back to the garage to get the cat cages. And I saw my car was in a very strange position, and the lights were on. So I figured out that the car is gone. And the — and we got there. We put the cats in the cages, and they call and they told us [0:40:00], “If you want rescue, sit on the roof.” And we said, “How we going to get on the roof?” So the idea was it to bring our stepladder. So we have a stepladder that is aluminum, so it will be okay in the water. So we went to get it so we can climb on the roof if we need to climb on the roof.
All the furniture in the house were floating around. I’ve never seen a sofa floating around, right? I mean, the whole thing was floating. We put the cats on the sofas. And we had to hold the sofas, so they were not going all — you know, going around in the house. Anything — I mean, all the [unclear, 0:40:40] that we put on the tables, we didn’t know that it would be the water above it. So the cupboards got wet and everything got — two shelves of books collapsed. They were above the water, but they collapse. And so we lost two books — two shelves of books. Nothing else that was important got — we got — we lost [0:41:00] since we knew already to put everything high up. That was already — at that point, it was, I think, about 4:00 A.M. or something like that.
So — and the only idea we had is the neighbor of the house was to our — if we’re standing in front of the house, the house on our left had a second floor. That neighbor we didn’t even have a phone number. So we called the neighbor across the street we knew. They gave us the phone number, and we called her. And we said, “Can we join you?” And she said, “Of course. Just come.” So walking in water all the way to my chest in the dark — and my wife is shorter than me, so she — on her, it was even higher than that. And the — with the cat up, so the cats — you know, holding the cages up and coming to her steps. And we walked inside the house. And we climbed up [0:42:00]. We put the cats there. The dog belongs to the neighbor across the street — was already there.
That guy across the street, he was joining us with his wife and their dog. So he tried to cross the street, but the stream — the water was too fast. So he put the dog in a trash can, and he was pushing the trash can with the dog inside across the street. And that’s how he got — and he left the dog there. Then he went to get his wife. The reason he took the — he told us the reason he took the dog first is that to see how the water behaving since his wife doesn’t know how to swim. And he didn’t want to lose her to the water. And then he put his wife on his back, and both of them came walking across the street [0:43:00].
We, meanwhile — we went to the house several times to bring the cat food and the cat litter and whatever other things that we can think of — whatever food we had and just to be over there. And we got there. There was — at this point, the electricity were already gone. So there is no electricity. And we were just sitting there and talking. I mean, that was a beautiful time to meet the neighbors and talk with them. That neighbor that we moved to her — we never had a good relationship with her. But because of that, we all, you know, became better neighbors. And whatever we could sleep, we slept. And we all watching up. We seeing what’s going on until we saw the water starting to come down.
During the night, there were helicopters. We heard helicopters. We see — we saw some boats coming to rescue people from the street. The neighbors at the — down the street all the way to [0:44:00] the end, they moved into their house about two weeks before Harvey. They were sitting on the roof — two or three kids — two or three kids, and the neighbor across the street, they came with a big floating float that looks like a swan. And they moved in to — the kid jumped from the roof into the swan. And that’s how they moved to across the street. That neighbor, we met him later on. He said he had over 40 people in his house — that they came all from the houses around him. He was the only one that he demolished his home after the Memorial Day holiday and start building a new home. And it was ready — I think they moved a month, maybe two months before Harvey — they moved in [0:45:00]. And he called in, and all the neighbors from the whole street was staying with him.
So it was — I mean, the thing is that you do what you see. So we stayed with the neighbor, and then at one point, the water went down. And everything was okay. And we start going back to the house to see and moving things around and doing — and I slipped in the neighbor’s house twice on the floor. And I broke a wrist and two toes. And the thing is all the emergency — you couldn’t get anywhere since the water was still high everywhere else. And it took three days or four days before — since that was — it happened on Sunday. I got to see — I got to see the emergency room on Wednesday. So on — so on Tuesday, finally, the water was low enough — who came? Oh, the neighbors [0:46:00] across the street, their son and daughter-in-law — yeah, their son and daughter-in-law came over — or maybe their daughter and son-in-law — one of those combinations, they came to check on the house since they were in hotel somewhere. So they came to check on the house. They could drive, and we asked them to drive us to my father-in-law.
So on Tuesday — I think it was Tuesday — Tuesday or Wednesday morning, we moved to my father-in-law. And we took with us the two women that were with — that were with us over there. The neighbor — the guy, he decided that he’s going to stay to check — to keep an eye on the house and all of everything — didn’t want to move — and the dog, right — with the dog. So we all moved to my father-in-law, and we went in one car. We were in the car. We were the two — the couple that came driving. And it was regular [0:47:00] car — you know, just a sedan. The two of them, we were four adults and three cats. And we all move a few things that we had with us. We moved — they took us to my father-in-law. And we’ve been with him.
And things, you know, started to be better driving and all of those. The emergency room, finally, I could reach it. So I got to the emergency room on Bellaire Boulevard. They have 24-hour emergency room. They took x-rays, and they said that I broke my wrist. And they put some kind of standard support on that. And then we start calling around to find out which orthopedist — since they say that I might need surgery. So which surgeon is available? And we finally found somebody through our — Beth Yeshurun, the congregation. We found the [0:48:00] doctor that — I was the first person they seen after the flood — on the 26th floor in the medical center. And I went over there. I had an appointment at 1:30 — I think 1:00 or 1:30. When I got out, the — and when I came there, there was nobody. When I got out, the waiting room was full, because they started at 2 o’clock. So I was just before everybody else. And they put a cast, and I was with a cast for two months.
But that’s — being what the story is, now we need to start, you know, getting the house back together. And now we know what to do, right? So I already made a call to — the first call I made was to Jansen. And I said, “Hey, we would like to hire you guys to help us.” And they guy said, “Look, we are very busy. Whenever we have time to come, you know what to do, so start doing whatever you need to do.” And we start [0:49:00], you know, taking carpets out that were — the organization that came to help. So there was Emery/Weiner, the school, so we had the students, teachers, and parents. They came, the whole group. They came one day, and they worked with us.
MG: How did they know to go to your house?
EE: My — through the alumni, my son had connection over there, so he talked with one of the alumni. And that’s how they all came. They just showed up one day. There was one day — I think it was Chabad or somebody else — not Chabad, it was some other organization. I don’t even — I think Chabad. They just called, “You need help?” Well, my son said, “Yes, we do,” and like 25 people shows up. I mean, we had so many friends and relatives. I mean, we don’t have relatives, but people that are so dear friends that is like family.
They basically living — were living with us in the house — I mean, over [0:50:00] there just to come to cut the four feet this time since the water we had was three — it was three and a half feet. So four feet to cut all over the house and get all the furniture out. This time, we had a piano, so we fixed the piano after the first flood. But the second flood, the keys were covered, so we had to throw away the piano, and all the furniture, and everything that we had — and pack everything else. I think we — I don’t even know what they put in boxes, where they got the boxes. And I know that everybody — so many organizations that stopped by. I can’t even — you know, for me, it was all in a haze.
But people are coming over there, and they brought boxes. And they brought wrapping papers, and they brought masks. And they brought whatever you can imagine — drinks, and food, and — it’s — we had so many. I mean, if I say that we have couple of hundred people [0:51:00] going through our house during that, let’s say, week and a half — going to get the house, I’m not — I’m not exaggerating.
MG: And all from the community?
EE: All from community. People — some people I never met and probably I’ll never see again. They just — “You need help? Sure.” There was one guy came in, and he says, “Hey, how are you? That good? I came to help.” “Who are you?” I mean, he said, “Don’t you remember me?” And it son of my friends, right? I haven’t seen him in few years. He was in college. He came — he called. He said, “I’m coming to help,” so his mother says, “Stop at the Enavs’ house. They need help.” So he stopped by us, and he says, “I need — I heard you need help.” I said, “Look, we’re doing very well. But since you want to help, if you don’t mind, go to the neighbor across the street. He definitely need help.” And he went over there, and they were blessing him. Apparently, he helped them [0:52:00] quite a bit — the son of our friends. So — and he did go to see his parents. He came first to help. That was — his mother — at one point, his mother says, “Did he show up?” I said, “Yes, he did, but I send him to the neighbor since really we don’t have.”
The problem was remediation since there were everybody busy — what to do. And there was a company — the same company we had before. I couldn’t get them to come. They didn’t answer the phone. And then I went online, and I put — and I found a company. I don’t even know where or what. I put my name. I says, “Please, I need help,” and that. And I got a call, I think, a few hours later. They said, “I heard you need help. Are you still need help?” I said, “Yes.” “Okay, we come.” It was a company from Michigan that came over here to work. They were such nice people [0:53:00] — the whole — the whole — I mean, you know, you see the really nice, beautiful people. You know, it’s decent, hardworking.
And I — and he worked with us, and he was working in the house and cutting whatever the people that did cut, make sure that everything would be correct, and took everything apart — what needs to be, and dried the house, and did the garage and the house and the whole thing. And I paid him. Eventually, he give me an invoice. And I send him the money to Michigan. There was no question on — didn’t argue with him. You know, and now, I have name of somebody that I know to help, which I did use.
And I’ll tell you it’s not the end of the flooding with our family. So it’s coming up the next story. So [0:54:00] — I mean, no word. The question now left is what do we do next, right? So that was the question. And we set over there. My wife and I, now, we’re both engineers. And we already went — once went — we have to fix the house. We need to do it, and we did that — actually, twice — once and a half. And we set over there, and we said — and this time, since the damage was higher than what we had before, it was obvious that this time we just fix to us is not a solution since there’s no doubt that there’s going to be another flood, right? So now, this time, we didn’t even believe that we had the 200-year flood, the 500-year flood. And now, we said, “Next year, we’re going to have the 1,000-year flood.” So it looks like every year we have a flood, so we need to do something else.
So we said — I mean, really, honestly, we set with a pen and paper [0:55:00]. And you know, like engineers do, and we understood. And that’s the — that’s the point that everybody needs to understand — is disconnect the heart from whatever you supposed to do. Since if the heart is involved, then you make a decision that — to be comfortable with. But it’s not the — necessarily the correct decision since those decisions are usually more expensive. So we said, “Let’s think logically what we need to do — what options we have.” And we had three options — maybe four, but three of the main one.
The first option was to fix the house, but since we knew now that we had to elevate the house, which mean that we have to elevate the house and fix it. And we had no doubt that we first elevate. Then we fix. We don’t do like what everybody else said. First, fix the house [0:56:00], move into, and then only thing is you have to move out for about a week when we elevate the house. And that was not a solution since the way things going in this neighborhood, and we felt it physically ourselves. There was no doubt that while we fix the house, it’s going to be another flood before we elevate. So that was not solution. So we knew we need to elevate and then fix the house. We put how much is going — this thing is going to cost us.
MG: Is that something the elevation companies say? To fix and then elevate?
EE: Yeah, yeah.
EE: Every company that you talk about the elevation — and I went into a great details. And I went to sites and I saw how they elevating the house, and how they dig under, and how they bring the house up. And I drove all the way to New Orleans to see how it’s done. And it was obvious that, yeah, I can fix the house and then elevate it. And then, you know, just add the stairs [0:57:00] and all of the stuff. And everything is good. That’s — that was never intentions and said, “If we are going to fix the house, we’re going to elevate first. Then we’re going to fix it.” And the cost of it is whatever the cost is. And we got to — if I remember roughly, $450,000, more or less is the elevation, and the fixing, and all of those. And we talking about using the same people that helped us before, right? It’s Legal Eagle. He’s going to be the one that is doing the fixing of the house and that since we — it’s — we’ve been doing business with him for, I don’t know, about 20 years since he helped us on previous houses that we lived in. And we like the guy and decent guy. He promises. He keeps his promises. So we do with him. So that was option number one.
Option number two was to demolish the house and rebuild [0:58:00]. Now, we have a pool over there, and the pool is built that the house is around the pool. And we start looking, and it was obvious that if we build the house, it has to be an existing plan. If we need to go to an architect and he needs to draw a plan and doing all of those, that will increase our cost by thirty to forty thousand dollars, easy. So for sure, that’s something we need to do. So it’s demolish the house and rebuild. That was option number two.
That option, when we found out there is nobody has a plan that would fit around the pool, it means that either we go and get rid of the pool or we — or we have an architect, right? So these are the two options, and clear the pool was cheaper. It was half of the price of the architect [0:59:00]. It’s about something between twelve to fifteen thousand dollars to get rid of the pool. And then, you know, the demolish and rebuild. And rebuild all depends on which guy you going to go with to rebuild the house. And we went to [unclear, 0:59:18]. The one thing is that we had over there that was the issue — is the rebuild — is that the whole neighborhood — the houses are three thousand and above square feet. And we have no more kids in the house, so this way too big for us. So it doesn’t make sense to build this huge house. And the small house, to build over there, that is something that will have no resale value, right, since people are not going to buy the small houses on the thing. So that was option number two.
Option number three was just move away [1:00:00]. The question is only where are we going to move away since we knew we want to stay in the neighborhood. Our friends, all the Jewish institutions, everything else — everything is around here — my kids, all of their friends, and everybody else. And we didn’t want the kids, when they come to town to visit, to be with the friends since — you know, let’s be real. You know, they come, and they stay at home. But they come to visit their friends. So we didn’t want to live somewhere far that they would rather stay with their friends when they come to town and just come to visit us. That was one.
Then we heard stories of people that moved away that had a problem keeping up with the old neighborhood, right — with people who live over there. There was — they’re not going to shul and all of those. So it’s a — it’s a problem. So we knew we wanted to be in that neighborhood. And we were looking until we drove one day, and we saw a big sign, [1:01:00] David Weekley Homes — building a home. And we went in. I said, “Let’s go look. See. There’s nothing to it.” And we met a wonderful sales lady. And she showed us around, and we talked. And we said, “Hey, you know, it’s about the same price as everything else. I mean, it’s more or less the same — might as well.”
We never planned to have a new home and deal with a brand-new home and construction and that. But hey, might — I mean, we do, we do. And we saw — from all the plans, we saw this lot that we’re living on was available. And we wanted it since we knew we need more parking. And we have — I mean, it’s a little — a little larger than other lots. So we jumped in. I mean, really, my wife was out of town. She send me a text message, “Go, sign in now.” So I took our real estate agent, and we went in. And we signed in. And that was in November [1:02:00] 2017, right? So we signed six months after — no, three — four months after the flood, we signed on the house. And we knew that the house was going to be ready May, June over here.
We moved — back then, we moved to my father-in-law. We stayed with him for a while over there. And it was lucky since his health was deteriorating at that point. So it was good that we lived with him, and it was good for everybody really. It helped him. It helped us. It was very tough. You know, there’s three cats and him and plus the three of us. That was really tough. My daughter is in UT in school, so she is still over there. So she just came to visit, but she was never living with us.
And the house was built [1:03:00] until one day we got a call from the builder. And he said, “I have some interesting news for you. Your house — your house was flooded.” And we said, “What?” And he said, “Yeah, they installed the kitchen island, and the connected one of the equipment wrong. Or something happened to it, and it exploded. And it flooded the whole bottom floor.” So the floor we’re sitting on over here was rebuilt. And I said to the guy, “You can’t be serious. I mean, we had enough water to last us for a lifetime. We don’t need another one.” And he said, “Yep, we already tore off all the floors and all the — you know, the boards and everything.” They took off — and the kitchen islands, and the cabinets, and all the bottom.
I mean, the house was ready. And we just need to do [1:04:00] — the elevator was not there, so the elevator pit was full of water. And it was — and then we went into panic mode at this point. I mean, really, we went to panic mode. And I demanded that they would replace the kitchen island since that’s where the flooding started. So this is new kitchen island. And everything was replaced. The floors, they replaced. The thing, they replaced. And I contacted the same remediation company I hired. And I send him an email. And I asked him to his advice — if he’s around, I’d like him to come and check. But he said, “I’m not around,” but to give me some ideas what to do. And we came and check. And we — the house was dry. I mean, it’s — we had — I mean, just to hear those fans working again in the house, that brought me [1:05:00] so much news on the house. And I mean, we didn’t like it. And it — but eventually, we just — it costs us another month — month and a half, but eventually, in July — late July — actually, it was almost August when we moved here. So we are here now about a month and a half — almost — it will be — in about 10 days, it will be two months that we’re here.
MG: When did you sell the Cedarhurst house?
EE: Cedarhurst, it took time. We put it on the market. We had to sell it. We put it on the market in — I think almost the same time when we sign for this one. And we said if we sell it, we have a smaller mortgage. If we don’t sell it, then we going to have a higher mortgage. Meanwhile, we paid the mortgage over there with the money that [1:06:00] we got from FEMA, so there no mortgage over on that house. The only cost that we had on that house was to keep up the pool clean since every time we came over there, we went swimming. I mean, you have a clean pool. Why not? And then we had to keep the electricity up and running.
But we sold it in the beginning of February this year. And we had enough money to put for the down payment on this house for whatever we sold it. And we sold it — we lost a lot of money over there. I think we sold it for the land value — nothing to do with the house. The person who bought it, he wants to turn around and sell it. And it’s been sitting now on the market for, I think, about four or five months. And he’s — he lowered the price once or twice, and we just follow him for the curiosity. But really, I mean, you saw the house. It’s neglected [1:07:00]. It’s — the only thing is to do is that house is to demolish it and rebuild.
MG: So when Harvey happened, you were so experienced on how to deal with the bureaucracy of the flooding. But because so many people flooded, how did that go? I mean, was it –?
EE: Interesting. You know, so first, we got — so the first thing that you need to do is remediate, right? You need to dry the house. So that’s the first thing. Lucky for us, it was a company that just came down Michigan. So they were not — they were involved one or two more projects around here. So they came in. They were happy to have a project, and we were happy to see them. So there was no problem.
Meanwhile, the community helped us take apart everything else that the remediation company did before. But this time, there were people coming with their tools [1:08:00] — their personal tools. They cut the walls, and take things out, and clear the house, and clean the house. I mean, it was — and packing things, and — especially since I was with one hand. You know, people, I guess, felt sorry for me more than others. I got all my friends for work. They come — they came one day to take — we had a hundred and thirty or a hundred and forty boxes. I have — I have a list, a master list of all the boxes and what we had in them. Do I have it here? Or it’s still at my father-in-law’s house? I’m not sure. I don’t think I have it here, so it’s probably in his house.
And they came to — you should see all of the people that I used to work with. And meanwhile, I change the place of work. So — but those people that I used to work with, they all came one day. “We’re coming to help.” And I had — I think there were about 15, 20 of them. And not only them, there were people that [1:09:00] — it — we — that company is in the middle of a huge implementation of a new software. So they came in, and the local people — the ones that I work for with 11 years came in. The people that were visiting town that were from — there was a guy from Holland. There was a guy from Singapore that came to help — and the consultants that were working with them. You should see one of the consultants is a lady. And she was — I mean, a short lady, she was carrying boxes like everybody. They wouldn’t let me do anything. I said, “I’ll carry it.” They said, “You don’t touch anything.” And they took everything and move it in my father-in-law garage.
I bought some shelving, and I put shelves all over the place. And we had a whole map of all of the boxes — what’s in every box. And so we knew we needed to start clean and go check one by one since we didn’t pack them. So we had no idea what’s in the boxes [1:10:00]. I still have boxes around that I have no idea — that we didn’t open. And I have no idea what’s in them. And I know things missing. You know, you open whatever we could find, but things — still, things missing over there. So that was — that was that part, right? And then the remediation company that came over here — over there, Jansen International called them again, right? I called them first, so they were starting to help.
And the best luck of everything, the FEMA adjuster was the same guy that I had in the previous two floods. So I mean, he came in, and he looks at me. And he said, “You did fix everything, right? I saw the receipt, so no problem.” And that was it. That was the rule that is [unclear, 1:10:47]. He said, “I’ve seen the house. I know what was in the house.” He was amazing, you know. It’s like an old friend. It’s just luck.
MG: And then the [1:11:00] turnaround to the get the money from FEMA?
EE: It worked like a — I mean, the thing is FEMA, this time, was better. So it’s one day. There was an envelope, and the money from FEMA was in there. I didn’t even know they send it.
MG: Wow. That’s amazing.
EE: I mean, I have — I know others have bad stories and that. But maybe it’s the way you look at things, right? Maybe the way you feel it. I feel that this flood — things, I mean, they were bad. But things worked, right? Things were okay. I mean, I have no complaints other than that nasty hand and foot that — I still have, once in a while, problems with my hand. And this is already over a year. My foot — I never — I just ignored it, so whatever hurts, hurts. And it doesn’t matter. So the foot, I never bothered. But the hand, it’s — I need my left hand [1:12:00], but I think I’m back. And really, I mean, it’s just things worked well.
MG: So what do you think the future of the neighborhood is?
EE: Oh, that’s a question. We’ve been discussing it to death. So I think it’s seven years about — I think five to seven years. You can see now, so what I’m looking at the neighborhood is — there is — there is [unclear, 1:12:27]. So you have houses that been neglected — or neglected, I mean, just sitting over there with nothing happening to them, like the house I used to live in. They — I’m not sure, but I know that the house — there was an article, and there was a Houston Chronicle and one of the TV channels, they did discussion of what — some news about some houses that never went through remediation. So there are houses like that. Those ones are dangerous [1:13:00]. Those definitely will have to be demolished. But houses that were remediated and just sitting there so we can make a decision what to do with them, there is a whole bunch of them. So that’s one thing.
Second, you have all the people who started to elevate their houses. Personally — now, I didn’t do it, but personally, one of the issues — and I did mention it before, but one of the issues with elevation of the house is that once you’re done with the elevation, you still going to have a 60-, 70-year-old home. Yeah, it’s going to be elevated, and the walls are going to be new. And many things are be new over there, but still, it’s a house that was built 70 years ago. So we don’t know if the value would be over there — and the cost of it. And let’s say, roughly, you put $200,000 in elevation of the house. This is about the price. And you put same amount of money, more or less, in [1:14:00] fixing the house. You put in $400,000 in the house that you don’t know if you’re ever going to get it back. So to me, just elevation of house is — it doesn’t make sense unless you want to keep the house for one reason or another. And that’s what I told you.
My wife and I decided that — you know, we disconnect the heart from the things. And if you talk with — if you think with your heart, definitely you want the house. Your kids grew up in it. And you have so many memories in it. Every room means something to you. Every wall has a different — every place you have — you know, it’s — and I know. We’ve been there on the first flood. And we said, “Okay, we’ll fix it.” And then — but then you said, “No more.” I mean, you can’t emotionally — we couldn’t emotionally go through another rebuild. So that’s the second [1:15:00].
And the third is all the people who’re demolishing their houses. And we’ve seen — and I don’t want to go into investment and not investment. And you know, however, physically, the houses are gone. And then either the lots are sitting empty, or there is new houses coming. I believe, in five, seven years, it’s going to be mini-Bellaire — all the houses. The neighborhood is going to be just as gorgeous as it was before the first flood. And it was a gorgeous neighborhood. The only thing is it is going to be six-foot higher. That’s it — but not done. You can see it, all the new houses — even the houses that were elevated, they really look decent. I mean, we can agree to disagree on if they look beautiful or it looks weird or whatever it looks. But it still — it’s the — the neighborhood is coming back, no doubt about it [1:16:00]. And then I think this is where I’m going to retire, so I’m not going to move back. But I’m proximity close enough to Meyerland that I can — at least in the same zip code, so I feel that I’m still in the neighborhood.
MG: So yeah, are we technically in Westbury?
EE: I’m not sure.
MG: I think we might be. I think of —
EE: We are completely new neighborhood, so we have a different water system. I mean, we have water system. We have a different garbage collection. It’s not coming from the City of Houston. So we are completely on our own, so I’m not sure where we belong.
MG: Uh-huh, uh-huh.
EE: It’s a gated neighborhood. And that’s the basically it.
MG: Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate you sharing your stories. Is there anything you want to add before we finish this?
EE: The only thing is I don’t know how many stories you heard about the wild animals that living in the neighborhood.
MG: No, I didn’t [1:17:00] hear. I haven’t heard.
EE: Okay, so let me tell you about the — not too many, couple. First, there was a coyote that was living in our street. And it was eating cats.
MG: This was during –?
EE: During — between the two hurricanes.
EE: Right? Between — it’s not hurricanes — between the Memorial Day flood and the Harvey.
MG: Wow, okay. I didn’t know.
EE: And I know that since my neighbor has a dog, and they went for walk. And he used to find a — half-eaten cats and small dogs. There is a witnessing that a coyote was around eating puppies or small dogs and things like that. So I don’t know where it stands — if there still — if the coyote is still there, but there used to be a coyote living on our street. Or that was part of his territory over there in Meyerland. So that was one [1:18:00]. The second story that I have is with — what do you call those? The animals — night animals with coming — we had opossums that were tons of them, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the word — the animal — oh. The animal that wash their food before they eat — the furry animal —
MG: Oh, raccoons?
EE: Raccoons. So there is a whole family of raccoons. And the reason I know that — that there are a whole infestation of raccoons in our neighborhood over there is that one day I woke up in the middle of the night. There was noise in the house [1:19:00]. And there were four raccoons inside my house eating the cat food and using the cat water to wash it. And then I got in, and they ran away. They came in through the cat door, right? So that was one day. And we said, “Okay.” And we start keeping the cat door open and closed and all of those.
And two weeks later, we got up in the middle of the night. And I found seven of them in the house — seven, I’m not — I’m not exaggerating — honestly. So I woke up my wife. I said, “We need to chase those out. They cannot stay in the house.” And we start with the brooms. And that night, we start chasing. We open all the doors, and we start chasing. I mean, we have pictures of the footsteps. And some of them went through the fireplace. There was a — I was — finally, we got rid of them. I was sitting watching TV [1:20:00], and through the cat door came a raccoon. And he looks at me. I look at him, and he ran through the fireplace. And he went in the fireplace all the way up. We lock the fireplace since the chain was broken. They broke the chain as they were climbing on it.
And we start putting traps outside. And we caught, in the traps — I caught two raccoons — two mature raccoons and two opossums. But opossums was by chance, but the raccoons are the ones I wanted. We never seen them again after that. We seen them — my son says that there was one day that they came and was knocking on the window. They wanted to go in, and he saw them in the backyard. So they coming to the backyard, so there was — there is definitely a problem — used to be a problem of wild animals, and the raccoons, and the coyote [1:21:00].
Opossums, we had that for years. There is — there is what they call over there an opossum trail that they go through. I put a trap some years ago, and I caught seven opossums. All the animals I caught, none of them was killed. They call were taken away and released into the wild, right? So I’m not doing anything.
But that’s — that’s a story. If you haven’t heard yet, you continue. And that’s definitely something, you know, people need to know — that the high water is disturbing the wild animals. And they changing where they live, and when you have empty houses that sitting over there, nothing going for them, I’m sure they will live in that — in that house. The raccoons, I think, were living — two houses from ours. There was a house that was neglected since the Memorial Day. And they just recently [1:22:00] demolished it and starting to rebuild. So I think they were living over there in that house. But I have no proof, right? Never went in to check on that. So that’s the one story you didn’t ask, and I just — to add for to the whole picture.
MG: That does actually remind me of another question that I didn’t ask, because it makes me think about the city. Is it their responsibility to deal with animals? And so I’m curious, thinking about the city and its responsibility, what do you think the city can do? And you had mentioned something much earlier about the medical center.
EE: Well, there were all kind of rumors why were — you know, why we were flooded during Memorial Day flood. It didn’t happen before, and it just happened now — like in Tropical Storm — what was [1:23:00] her name?
EE: Allison, yeah, the medical center was flooded badly but not our neighborhood — or at least not the areas we’re talking about. So there were all kind of rumors, and I’m not aware — I don’t know if the rumors are correct — if they — if something was done or something wasn’t done. And I don’t want to go — I mean, this is — you’re asking about what happened to me, so I don’t want to talk about whatever happened to the other — who’s responsible. I can tell you the responsibility of the — I think the city, I’m not sure — maybe the electrical company since in the — after the Memorial Day flood, we lost my son’s car.
The way we lost my son’s car is it was parked in front of the house. Don’t forget. We didn’t have that amount of water back then the way we had now. But there was a telephone pole that came down the street [1:24:00] with the water. And it was coming down the street through the water, and it was hit my son’s car. Now, we couldn’t see it, right, since it was all covered. But it hit the car, and the car got — and the car got hit behind. And the whole back went up and the trunk opened. And the water start coming into the trunk. Of course, the car built — the car that he had was built in a way that if the car sinks, the windows automatically open. I think most cars have that option over the — or something that it’s over there, so the windows open. And water came in, and we lost the car.
Now, we didn’t see anything about the telephone pole, right? We didn’t know about it until the water went down. And then the water goes down, and thanks God that nothing happened since there were people driving [1:25:00] on the street. And you couldn’t see it. And the pole was sitting in the way that it was blocking the whole street. So eventually, when we came back and we look at this, we said, “What are we going to do with it?” So one of the neighbors — I think two blocks away, he came. And he says, “Oh, I have –” He brought in his truck that he had some kind of cable in the back. We connected it, and we dragged the pole on the side. So it was on the side, but the problem is that the way he left the pole, it was blocking one-third of the entrance to my driveway. So we called the city. We called electrical company. We told them, and nothing happened. And few months after that, the neighbor across, he came with a saw. And he sawed the pole. And we took the piece. We put it [1:26:00] next to it.
We saw poles like that. There were three of them in the neighborhood. That was one. That was just in the front of my house, but there were two others that we saw that they were, I guess, getting ready to fix something. And the water just brought it in. So we — I called 311 and complained about it I don’t know how many times. And I put, you know, pictures of it at the police. And I said, “It’s blocking the street. Now, it’s blocking my driveway,” and nothing. And eventually, they took it away. But at that time, there was a piece missing. And we never heard anything about it, so I don’t know who took it, and why they took it, and what they did with it. But that was an interesting thing. Responsibility is who is in charge.
And I really — for my point of view, I — the only thing is that bother us is when you had this canyon [1:27:00] of stuff that everybody got out of their homes. And you were walking in the street, and it was human-high, right? I mean, the amount you had over there — anything from walls, flooring, furniture, food. And some places, it stunk so bad. It took long time before they cleared it. And I can understand since we were not the only neighborhood. There were other neighborhoods, so that’s really the only thing is — that bothered me. And the way they cleared — they hired some other third-party companies to do it — that they actually destroyed our front yard — not only mine, right? The whole street. Other neighborhoods — it did not happen in other neighborhoods, so it depends who came to clean the things that were outside over there.
After the Memorial Day flood [1:28:00], whoever came to clean it, really — they came, and they — it didn’t do any damage to the neighborhood — to their front yards. And this time it was the front yard was completely destroyed, which, you know, now, it doesn’t matter since I don’t own it anymore. So I don’t want to go — that’s the only difference that I’ve seen. That’s the only thing is we’ve done. I have no complaints. This electrical service was good. The water service was okay. I have — I mean, honestly, you — there is nothing to complain about. Maybe things could have been better or different or whatever. And whatever we need to do — maybe we shouldn’t have never been flooded. But this is — it’s a different discussion. It doesn’t have to do with how we reacted to the flooding.
MG: Uh-huh. Well, [1:29:00] Eyal, I really appreciate it. Thank you again for sharing your story.
EE: You’re welcome. [1:29:06]