John Young Sr.

John Young was born and raised in Houston’s Fifth Ward and has lived there all his life. He recalls that in his youth, the neighborhood was peaceful, with good teachers and no fighting. Hurricane Carla in 1961 is the the first storm Young remembers. He heard about Hurricane Harvey three days before impacts began, and he and his family made sure that they had enough food and supplies to weather the storm. He says that the amount of water in his neighborhood was likely traumatic for the children that live there and that his house was flooded. Young explains that the scariest part of the storm was the possibility of drowning. Some of the challenges in Young’s neighborhood after the storm included access to food and medical supplies. A neighbor was low on oxygen and had to get a new tank brought by high water vehicle since they could not leave. The clean-up was simple for Young, but he acknowledges that some people were worse off than he was. When FEMA came to inspect the damage to Young’s house, they claimed that the damage was unrelated to Harvey. Young knew this was not true but did not press the issue and completed the repairs to his house himself. In his neighborhood, Young explains, they help each other, and were able to make up for the lack of assistance from the government. This act of helping one’s neighbors is something that Young remembers from his youth. In the aftermath of the storm, residents would sometimes pay contractors for repairs to their homes that were never completed. Repairs that still need to be made in the Fifth Ward mainly involve roads, Young explains. At the end of the conversation, Young talks about how technology, from satellite forecasting to cell phones, has helped in disaster situations.