Lynne Boone, born in Cleveland, Ohio, moved to Houston, Texas in 1984 and has remained here ever since. Living in Kingwood, Boone experienced the significance of Hurricane Harvey firsthand. In the beginning, when news of Harvey was discussed, Boone and her husband did not take it too seriously. To be safe, they took turns sleeping during the night to check water levels, but they did not move furniture, personal belongings, etc. up to higher levels of the house – a fact they would come to regret later.
Reflecting upon the floods, Boone believes it was the release of Lake Conroe that caused her house to flood three to four feet. The Boones were able to evacuate their neighborhood with the help of friends who took them to an independent living facility for a brief period of time, before going to Creekwood Middle School. Since the middle school was not funded by FEMA, its generator could not keep running and the Boones had to evacuate again. Lynne refused to go further away from her neighborhood, so her son had one of his friends pick his parents up and the Boones stayed with them for a week before checking into a hotel for a few months. Upon describing her experience with Harvey, Boone admits that she did not expect water to reach her house at all since she lives on an incline. This preconceived notion made her naive in preparing for the storm and packing for the evacuation. In her interview, Boone mentions the wonderful community support her family witnessed. When word got around that someone needed something, the item would show up on the doorstep of wherever they were staying within the next day or so. The support also came with financial graces, such as discounts on buying new appliances, carpet, furniture, etc. Boone discussed the difficulties of a community all experiencing the same devastation, how everyone’s needs for certain items and home necessities led to many backorders and waiting periods. When asked how she would prepare for a storm after Harvey, Boone mentioned that she would move items higher up in the house and start planning for an evacuation when the news mentioned an incoming storm. She advised that those living in the Greater Houston Area buy flood insurance, since the rate per year is relatively cheap and help from the insurance is much greater than FEMA. Through her experience with Harvey, Boone tried to maintain a positive mindset and look for moments of brevity in such a dark time. She believes that the horrors of Harvey will be forgotten as time goes on, which is why she is happy to relay her account to warn people not to become too complacent and naive for future storms.
Interviewee: Lynne Boone
Interview Date: October 27, 2018
Interview Location: Kingwood Community Center
Interviewer: Johnny Zapata
INTERVIEWER: Hello, today is October 27, 2018. My name is Johnny Zapata, and I am here at the Kingwood Community Center with Ms. Lynne Boone as part of the University of Houston Center for Public History’s Resilient Houston: Documenting Hurricane Harvey project. We’ll be talking about Lynne’s experience as a Hurricane Harvey survivor.
JZ: Are you ready, Ms. Boone?
LB: Yes, I am. Thank you, Johnny.
JZ: Great. State your name, where you were born, and tell me a little bit about yourself.
LB: Okay, my name is Lynne Walters — oh, Boone. And I was born in Cleveland, Ohio.
JZ: When did you move to Houston? And what for?
LB: I moved to Houston in 1984. And I was moved by my company here.
JZ: What do you work as that brought you here?
LB: I was an account manager for a company called Ryder. And Ryder was a rental and a leasing company at that time. And now they’re into logistics, and that’s where we went.
JZ: Ryder, R-Y-D-E-R [0:01:00]?
LB: R-Y-D-E-R, correct.
JZ: Can you tell us a little bit about Harvey? And let’s talk about when the storm was on its way here. What were your thoughts as you were watching the news of the hurricane forming in the Gulf that might impact us? What were you feeling or thinking? Or how were you preparing?
LB: Well, we had just had the eclipse. And things were reacting differently in our weather pattern. I really hadn’t thought anything about the storm that was in the Gulf, Harvey. And I really hadn’t even thought about it up until about three days before, because it had — was on its way out basically. And then the changes in our environment and the weather strengthened the storm. And it came towards us. And we were kind of in that stage of not believing it was really [0:02:00] going to happen. And a lot of people do that. That’s a normal reaction. Because we were in the no-flood zone even though we lived close to the lake.
But there’s a ravine behind us, which is the overflow of Lake Houston. And we started to watch it, because it never filled with water before. And it was sort of rising and falling, rising and falling — normal, I guess, for how they built that. But we became a little bit apprehensive. So what we did is we would stay up. One of us would stay up at night and the other one during the day, and we just put a stake in the ground. And we were monitoring [unclear, 0:02:39].
So everything was fine until Sunday morning. When we got up Sunday morning, our neighbors were starting to say that we were starting to flood around us because of all rain that we had had and that it might be difficult to get out of our neighborhood. So our neighbor next door asked us – because we had a pick-up truck – if we could take them to a [0:03:00] facility — and that we also could get a facility there. And we would have a place to stay. So we said okay, and we took our stuff and took our cat. And we went over there.
Well, the water was already over the top of the pick-up truck when we were riding through the water to get out of the neighborhood. And we started to realize what was starting to occur. I mean, it was starting to hit home. But as far as preparations, I think the only thing we really did was roll up a rug. Because we were so taken aback by how fast it all happened. And the last thing that I remember is standing in the family room as my husband was rolling up the rug. And I saw five large deer swimming down the canal towards the lake. And the water is at their neckline. And that was the first time it really hit home to me. And they were swimming towards the water, not away from it [0:04:00]. And that made me sad. A lot of deer in our neighborhood ended up, you know, dying, because of the storm. So that’s kind of the beginning of what happened. And then it went from there.
JZ: So your house was flooded, yes?
JZ: What was the extent of the flooding at your house?
LB: We lost mostly everything. The water was a [unclear, 0:04:28] water, which is a dangerous water. It had hepatitis and E.coli and staph and stuff and all sorts of bad things in it. And so you had to be very careful what you saved. But we tried to save some of the things. And then we ended up throwing them out, because mold would start. And you know, we were so happy with how our house looked. We didn’t really ever see doing this again. And so were trying to make it as it was or keep it as it was as much as possible. But it was [0:05:00] impossible. And we just had to release everything that we had left.
JZ: So were you evacuated? Or did you leave? Were you evacuated before the storm happened? How long did you stay there once the flood waters started coming?
LB: Okay, we — that was that same day, Sunday. And as I said, our neighbors had called us. And so we agreed to drive the truck over there. And we took them first. And then John came back and got me. And then he came home. He wasn’t planning on coming back, because he thought, “Oh, it’s going to be okay. We might get a little water in the street, you know, but it’s going to be okay.”
JZ: John is your husband?
LB: Yes. And so as it turned out, the water was really getting bad. He had to get up on a sidewalk to drive. And he didn’t think the truck was even going to make it through at that point. So we went to another place, which was an independent living place where her sister lived [0:06:00]. We had a bedroom there and one upstairs where they stayed. And it was nighttime by — all the time had passed, you know. And it was at night. And so we were there, and it was getting dark. And the lights went out. And that’s when the water over there rose.
And that’s actually where we were evacuated from. We were able to get out, but we wouldn’t have been able to much longer in our house. But it was the next morning. And it was about 1:00 — this is important, because Lake Conroe opened their flood gates. Our neighborhood was taking it pretty good from what I understand, because some people were still there. But at about 1:00 to 1:30, there were floodlights on the building. And I could mark the wall with the bricks, you know, to see how high the water was and how high if it was rising. And it began [0:07:00] to rise about 1:00 to 1:30. And it just kept rising.
And we were on the second floor, and it has a balcony looking over. All of the sudden, all this conversation we could hear outside of our door. Well, all those people from the first floor had already been flooded. And they were sitting up there. They were waiting for someone, you know, to get them to safe ground. And so we finally went out. It was the next morning, daylight. And there — I was told when we got into the boat that the water was ten-feet deep. And it had to have been at least that deep, because it covered the truck. You couldn’t see any of the cars in the parking lot anymore. We then came here. That was our stop, but all the people — these are the things I want people to remember.
All the people that helped us, I mean, did it out of the kindness of their hearts. We tried to pay the guys that [0:08:00] owned the boat for their gas or do something for them. And they would take nothing. They lifted us into boats. They carried us into boats. They helped us when we got off. They were so kind and only looking after us when maybe their lives or families were in just as much jeopardy — that they took this on as a cost. And it was so nice to see all of humanity coming together under this one experience.
JZ: You mentioned that you left your home and you went to an independent living facility. What were you thinking as you left your home on that truck? What were the thoughts that were going through your head?
LB: I did think we would flood at that point. When we — when we started seeing the water around us, I knew that it was going to happen. And there was nothing, really, we could do. We had so little time to do anything. And that’s one of my words of [0:09:00] advise also. If you think it’s going to happen — you know, if they say there’s a good possibility, then move forward. Get out of the denial stage. Move forward, because there are things you can save if you put things up high.
You can cover the legs on your chairs. You can stack things on beds. I mean, there are ways to save some of your precious things. And I would even recommend at this point — I mean, the way my house is set up now, my most precious of things that were my grandmother’s or pictures or anything like that are all on top shelves in plastic boxes. So if anything happens again, I don’t — you know, I hope that it would be saved — is what was my goal.
And the other thing is is when people have their wet gloves — their gloves on and they’re wet and they’re contaminated, you don’t want them touching the pictures. And you don’t want them touching that, because that ruins the picture, too [0:10:00] — whatever the bacteria is on.
JZ: When you left your home, what were some of the things you carried with you?
LB: Well, I thought — I didn’t realize how catastrophic it was going to be. And so I basically just took clothes, thinking, “I’ll have to make it a couple of days, and then I’ll come home.” And I took, of course — let me think. We didn’t even take — I really — I’m sorry. I can’t remember. We took our cat. We took some supplies for him. And it was mostly just something to wear — something to have on my back. Because I really thought we would be coming back. I thought the water would come up. I still didn’t dream it would come into the house that much. And I thought we would be back, and we’d have clean-up. But that was — yeah.
JZ: So you were expecting about ankle-deep water in your home?
LB: I was expecting [0:11:00] nothing in my home. My home is on a rise. And I expected the water to come up maybe to the front door or, you know, something like that but not water in the house.
JZ: So once you were evacuated from the independent living facility, you mentioned that you were brought here to the community center.
JZ: What was that like? Can you tell us more about that?
LB: It was surreal. That’s the only way I can explain it. It — as I said before, they carried us out and put us on the boat. The people on the boat were people that actually lived at this facility. And they were condominiums, so they owned them. So they had lost everything. And there were pets and people and all sorts of things. Some of them were in cages. Some of them were just being held. And here we go.
And we go out the front gate in a boat. And then we make a right-hand turn to [0:12:00] West Lake Houston Parkway. And this is a street in Kingwood that’s a main thoroughfare through our little town. And here we are, boats going down both sides as if we were cars. And we’re going down, and I’m looking at all of the town around us. Because this is our Town Center. And I’m looking at the stores, smelling gasoline fumes. And I’m looking at the stores with their windows half-covered by water, because they said it was about 10 feet in through there. And it was totally unbelievable. I could not believe it.
And so we made our path, and on our way, we got hit by another boat that was going the wrong direction. And the currents are really strong for some reason. I don’t really understand that except for there might have been cars and things underneath. I don’t know, but he hit us with the boat [0:13:00]. And that again was another time I thought, “These people are donating all this time and their boats and their gas.” And then damage occurs, you know. We were all okay, but he gets damaged. He brings the boat down, and we pull up to the rise right over there. It’s all muddy. Now, this is the point where the water subsided or never occurred. I don’t — I’m not sure. But we came up, and you got out and were sopping wet, and — because the boats and the water and all that stuff got all wet at least from your waist down. And we get out of the boat, and it’s muddy. And you’re sinking in the mud, you know, because it has been or is wet from all these boats going through. And we came into the building, and this building doesn’t even look like it ever did to me. It was all dirty and muddy and cats and dogs — some on leashes, some not — people. And this [0:14:00] was the staging area for us. This is where we came, gave our names. And then they determined where we needed to go next.
JZ: What happened then?
LB: Then, over to the side, there were cars that were people’s cars that they were waiting for us. And they took us where they told us we needed to go. So we went to — I think it’s called Creekwood Middle School. And it’s just right over there on the left. And it was not a FEMA staging point at all. It was just they opened the doors and were running on generator. And the people in the neighborhood had made soup and food and brought towels and brought blankets and brought all sorts of things for us. It was — it was just amazing how many people cared to bring and help others. And we stayed there for about [0:15:00], I don’t know, maybe three hours.
And we found a little niche. We were so excited, because the halls were all filled. But the classroom doors were open, and our cat was very traumatized by it all. So we said, “Why don’t we just go in there and sit in there for a while? Because it’s dark. It’s quiet. And we can bring peace to us again.” So we went inside, and I’m saying things like, “You know, this is so great. These are little desks we can sit on. We can put our heads down. We can sleep tonight. You know, there’s everything we need here. We don’t have to worry. This is great.”
And about that time, the loud speaker starts and says, “Ladies and gentlemen, those of you that have medical problems, the helicopters will be landing to take you to the medical center. The rest of you, please line up outside. The busses are here to take you down to George R. Brown.” And I looked at John, and I said, “We don’t have to leave, do we? [0:16:00]” And he says, “It sounds like we do.” So we went out front, and I asked — I said, “Why do we have to leave?” And they said, “Because this is a non-FEMA shelter. Our generator’s going low, and we have to close the shelter down.” So I said to John — I said, “John, I’m not going. I’ll sleep on the sidewalk tonight. I’m not leaving this place. I don’t want to go any further away from my home. I want to stay here.” All the hotels were full. Just about then, my son, who’s also in a situation of flooding in one of his houses and also the other, calls and says, “What’s wrong?” And I said, “Well, they’ve just told us we have to go.” And he said, “Mom, let me call Dwight.” And so Dwight was here in five minutes and got us, fed us. And then we went to his house to spend the night. And we stayed several nights there [0:17:00].
JZ: And Dwight is your son’s friend?
LB: Yes, they played football together in high school. And he still lives here. And so Dwight and Amy just made a way for us. And you know, the little things — I tried to write down things like plan ahead type of stuff, the little things that you don’t really think about. Like our cat is trained to a litter box, so you know, we had the cash. We had everything, but we had no litter. I mean, we didn’t think — we left it at the facility that we were at last. And we had some food but just a little jar of it. And Amy and Dwight, of course, [unclear, 0:17:36] — she’s a teacher. And she was texting all of her teacher friends. Some food — a bag of food showed up on the porch. Dwight had a plastic container that had plants in it. He washed it out. All of the sudden, the kitty litter showed up on the front porch. And we were in business. So little things like that, you don’t think about when you’re doing — when you’re going through it. But those are all [0:18:00] needs. And those are needs that have to be met. We were in a home that wasn’t familiar to — you know, the cat wouldn’t go out, because it wasn’t like that. We didn’t want to have any problems, so it just was like miracles happen all around you.
JZ: I’m glad you mentioned that, because I was going to ask you what sorts of challenges you were presented by having a pet with you. Because many people had pets, and so that’s an extra burden. Because your pet is part of your family, and now, you have to care for the needs of a pet. And a lot of these shelters are just set up for people and not necessarily for pets. So I’m glad you mentioned the challenges that you faced. So how long were you at Dwight and Amy’s home?
LB: Well, we had dinner there. And the initial opportunity was going to be staying [unclear, 0:18:52] there. And we ended up moving like seven different times.
JZ: Oh, wow.
LB: And [0:19:00] Dwight and Amy’s parents — well, Dwight’s parents were flooded like very bad. And they were out of their home, too. So they were going to spend the night there. But Amy’s mom and dad are good friends of ours. And they had taken in some other people, but she took in us, too. And we stayed there about a week.
JZ: So it took you about a week to return to your home?
LB: No, we got back — well, return to our home. It seems like I didn’t go back for about a week. But John went back, because we had to pull the carpets. We had to, you know, get things going. And this is another thing to think about in a storm. I mean, you have to think past the storm. And we had no — a lot of people had contractors, because they were [0:20:00] refurbishing their house and, you know, they knew of people. Well, we didn’t, because our house was fairly new. And so we weren’t at that stage and really didn’t know anybody like that. And so when I was at where we were staying, I called several people the day after the storm. And one of them said yes. Well, great, I’m sorry about that. And I said, “Oh, that’s great.” So that night, I called him and asked him what time he would be by the next day. And he said, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but a lot of people in my family got flooded. I was flooded, and I can’t do — I can’t help you.”
Well, that was just the window that was so important to get a contractor. And at that point, I could never get one again unless they wanted me to wait like several months or — before even starting. So we ended up being [0:21:00] our own contractors. That’s how it all worked out. We did not move back into the house — I think it was May or June — like the end of May. We lived in a hotel several months. We moved back from Galveston, lived in a hotel for several months since they were opening up then. Because FEMA was kicking the people out. And so we paid to stay in the hotel. So we stayed there about two months. And then we were trying to finish up the house, but when we moved in, we had no carpet. We had nothing really except for the paint. We had some of the appliances. People were coming every day to the house working on — I felt like the movie Money Pit. You open your —
LB: And somebody’s standing there [unclear, 0:21:46]. So we lived about two months like that — three months. We really just finished the house last week.
JZ: If you feel comfortable, can you describe [0:22:00] the extend of the damage to your home?
LB: Well, I’ll put it like this. A lot of people came to help us. And we got a remediation company. I couldn’t get that either. And that you need right away. So John and this painter we had had two months — I mean, two weeks prior to the storm did it all. And then the remediation company was next door. And I went over and begged them since they were right there if they couldn’t do us, too. And they helped us out. I can’t remember the question. I’m sorry.
JZ: Just can you describe the extent of the damage to your home?
LB: Okay, so basically, you walk in, and all the walls had to be taken up 48 inches. And so it was all the wood, you know, structure underneath showing. All the drywall had to come down. All the carpets had to come [0:23:00] out. The flooring, all the beds, just in that short period of time — maybe it was about four or five days when I could get back in. All of the furniture — we figured our house is kind of slanted. It’s a one-story house, but the back of it has the water — you know, the overrun from the lake. So they sort of pitched it a little bit. You can kind of tell when you look down the wall. And then the front of our house was the sewer. So sewers all backed up, so we’re getting it from both angles.
So it’s coming in from the back, I think, coming down towards the front. The most — we had the greatest amount of water up front. Everything went in half of the house and out. And then the back of the house, we were able to save the things that were sitting on stuff, you know, like the knickknacks and some of my dishes and, you know, some — but all the cupboards were out [0:24:00]. There was nothing left in the house. It was gutted.
JZ: How did you feel returning to your home and seeing it completely different to what you left it?
LB: Well, I thought I was completely in control, but I can hardly remember any of it. And people would come to me — this is another point. Keep some place — plastic bags. I don’t want to say boxes, because Houston is so humid here. And they’ll just mold and mildew if there’s time in between. But keep plastic bags on hand. Keep masks on hand. Keep plastic gloves on hand. Because people were — all these people were helping me. And they’d say, “Well, Lynne, where do you want us to put this?” I had nothing to put it in to put it up in the attic. So it made a lot of work for a lot of people going up and down [0:25:00] those stairs to the attic to get whatever I could save upstairs. And so I would always — you know, you can always use plastic bags at the end if you decide to move, but keep them there. Because you can’t buy — no stores are open. There’s no boxes available. They’re all gone. Everybody already got them. You know, you can’t get there quick enough. And you probably couldn’t have gotten there to begin with, because our cars were at the house, so — except for the truck was over there. And it was gone, so prepare those kinds of things. Because you’ll never be able to get those.
And I could remember. They’d say, “What do you want us to do with it?” And I’d say, “I don’t know.” And then finally, one of my friends came up to me, and she said, “Lynne, how would you like it if I just took control for a little while?” I said, “That would be wonderful.” And I literally just walked up and down the hall [0:26:00] of the house and just looked at everything. Because I couldn’t put my arms around it. I couldn’t grasp it. I didn’t know what to do, because I had nothing to do anything with. So they literally took all that stuff up to the attic and placed it on shelves up there. And you know, there was no furniture that went. It was just the ancillary stuff that survived.
JZ: How many feet of water did your home received?
LB: We didn’t have — probably maybe two and a half feet, but you know, once — and up front, it was more. But we — you know, we couldn’t tell how much. All the beds were gone. All the furniture was gone. The top of the dresser — that first drawer was still dry. But it’s like a five-drawer dresser. So I — it was various heights, I think, because of the pitch of the house [0:27:00]. And that’s very reasonable. When I saw the visual looking down from the helicopter or whatever was filming our area, we have a huge maple tree in our front yard. It came up to right under the canopy. That’s how deep the water was up in the front of the house where the bedrooms are. The back is where the living room area is. So we figure all — and that it was a quick in and a quick out, because it was the flooding from Lake Conroe that got us. So it dissipated. I mean, it drained.
JZ: It went downstream.
JZ: From all your ordeal, what do you think was the most difficult part of the whole experience?
LB: [Unclear, 0:27:49] I never think of things that way. I don’t, because everything can be difficult if you make it. And all I thought about was, “What are we going to do to get it back [0:28:00]? And how are we going to do it? And we’re going to do it. And we’re going to do the best we can.” I mean, all of the sudden, I was a contractor. All of the sudden, I was out buying things from builders’ supplies. I was so fortunate. One of my friends from long ago, her husband owned ProSource Building Supply, which is where contractors go to find things. And he made me a decorator. So I could get in, and we have an account. And I was able to, you know, get it at a good — better price. And I was able to get it, because a lot of places you couldn’t get things. And so that became my new — if I hadn’t been as old as I am, I thought, “You know, this is kind of a fun job. I wish I had known about that sooner,” not that I would want to do floods. But I thought I could do it. And it was interesting [0:29:00], and it was fun. I learned a lot. But anyway, I’m not a — I never think negative.
JZ: What about positives? Were there any funny or light-hearted moments during your whole experience?
LB: We laugh. We have this amazing cat. It was a rescue cat. And it’s huge. And it’s a her. We call it Maggie, because we never knew it was guy cat. So anyway, and he goes by Catfish, too, sometimes when we’re at the beach. But anyway, that cat wouldn’t leave our side. And even today – that’s why I know they get traumatized – we’ll be sitting some place or standing. And she’ll be way back in the bedroom. And our house is long, so it’s not like you can — you have to have really good ears to hear us. And we’ll be talking like a low tone — like we’re having a conversation about something important. Down the hall comes the cat, sits right by our feet, and looks up at us like, “Is the Coast Guard coming, Daddy [0:30:00]?” And so you can just tell. It’s just amazing.
JZ: What are some lessons that you learned apart from what you’ve mentioned already? What are some lessons that you’ve learned from this experience?
LB: I learned how wonderful people are. And I learned how giving people can be. And it makes me want to be a good person to others if I ever end up on the other side of the fence. I learned that you can make it through anything if you put your mind to it. I learned that it’s never as bad as you think it is in the end. I learned that you’re never too old to do anything, because I’m 73. And that’s basically it, except for the practical things that I shared.
I don’t know if [0:31:00] there’s — some of the other things that — besides the heartfelt things are, you know, know — if you have a disaster like this, know where you’re going to go. Try to plan out in your mind where you’re going to go, so you can make that phone call as quickly as possible. A lot of people were calling the contractors, the remediation companies, the hotels before it even hit. So you didn’t even have a fighting chance of getting a place if you hadn’t done those, you know. If you’re going to be staying with friends, you know, make a deal. If it happens to you, you can stay at my house. If it happens to me, we’ll stay there. You know, know what you’re going to do. And then remember to turn off your utilities. Know that you’re not going to have any water, because we didn’t — once all the sinks were gone and everything, we couldn’t clean anything [0:32:00]. I don’t know. Let’s just see. I did make some notes just because I wanted to be helpful to others.
JZ: Thank you.
LB: I think I’ve covered pretty much of it. Oh, I did write what I learned. But we are resilient and can survive anything by planning ahead. You have to listen to the officials and do what they recommend and stay positive. One thing – and I’ll say it more quickly than I wrote down – is that a lot of people didn’t have flood insurance. We did. We are one of the lucky ones. But flood insurance is $450 a year. That’s it.
LB: And the maximum payout, depending on the disaster of your home [0:33:00], is $100,000 in content and $250,000 in dwellings. I bet if you give up a couple Starbucks and a couple times going to Wendy’s and whatever else and come up with the $450, you would be covered. So many people, especially my age, did not have insurance, because they didn’t think they would ever flood. And they lost everything. And when you’re retired, you know, have so much you can live on in hopes that it will last for the rest of your life. Some of these people were destroyed. And many of the homes were left for sale at half of their value, and I don’t know where these people went, some of them. You know, I just don’t know. So get insurance. That’s the bottom line here, $450 a year, so.
JZ: I don’t think many people know it’s that affordable.
LB: Yes [0:34:00]. And now, I don’t know what renters can do. I’m not sure about that, but you might be able to get contents someway, somehow. But it’s just worth it, because you have enough to worry about. And if you’re worrying about where the money’s going to come to redo your home — FEMA was giving out, I think, somewhere around, max, $30,000 to these people or almost that much to remediate the house.
JZ: You were mentioning that you learned the kindness of people. What are some examples of people helping out your family? How did you see the community react or reach out to those that were in need?
LB: Well, the community reached out in many ways by giving us discounts on things, like furnishings and — so we could replace [0:35:00], because a lot of times maybe that money might not have been enough for some people that had larger homes — that we — mostly what I mentioned. We were taken in. We were fed. We had friends asking what we needed, people coming, bringing things to us when we were in need and there was no place to buy it, the people that drove the boats, the people that drove the cars to take us somewhere, everybody, everybody just — that was the mantra — just help everyone.
JZ: How do you feel that the City of Houston could have dealt with Hurricane Harvey in a different way?
LB: Well, you know, it’s funny. I didn’t really see much of what was going on in Houston, because we didn’t have time to be watching [0:36:00] TV. In fact, I’m like shocked at some of the things that I see now, especially on the anniversary — some of the films that they showed. I think Houston overall probably did a good job. There’s not much that they can do when the flood waters come. I mean, they were there to evacuate us. You know, the people were — I think the resources were there where we needed them. They could have changed the Lake Conroe thing, I think. And that would be probably my biggest statement.
JZ: How do you think that this hurricane and the experience has changed your community? Has it changed it for the better or worse?
LB: Well, I think our community is still really physically and mentally healing. I know it’s been over a year, [0:37:00] but I’m in a philanthropic organization. And we put on an event that just took place this year. We had to cancel it last year. And we donate all the money we make to all of these different organizations that really are the backbone to our community of those in need. And I know they suffered very greatly, because they didn’t have the people supporting them. And so we saw that as a challenge this year and to try to make our event as big as we could, so we could get as much money as possible. And we still don’t know what our revenue was on it, but we think we did a good job. And at least we had something more to do for them this year. But it just — you know, people are still healing. There weren’t the people there to support us, because they didn’t have the money to give us things for silent auctions or for raffle [0:38:00]. And you know, some of the vendors that were at our event weren’t there, because they, themselves, were flooded. And they’re still trying to get back.
It’s like one big circle. If you don’t — if you get out of the circle, you have a problem, because it seems like everybody’s doing remediation. Everybody’s getting the house knocked down, you know. Then everybody goes and they get the drywall. Everybody goes and they get their door. And it goes on and on and on like this. If you get behind the eight ball, you don’t get it, because they run out. And so you have to wait. And so it’s real hard to stay in the front. I called it the big funnel, you know. You have to be sharp and quick so that you don’t miss out.
JZ: Recently, we had a scare, because there was a hurricane that hit pretty nearby. Thankfully or unfortunately, it swerved east, and it hit Louisiana. What were your [0:39:00] thoughts as you were hearing this? I remember driving down the freeway, and it said, “Be prepared. Storm forming in the Gulf.” What were your feelings as you heard the news that there might be another hurricane?
LB: I started to prepare. I did. I started to put things, like I said, upstairs in the attic.
JZ: I know, right now, it’s very recent on people’s minds. And a lot of them would prepare, and perhaps hearing that news might cause panic. Do you think people will forget in five or ten years down the road that all this happened?
LB: Yes, they did after — I think it was Ike.
JZ: After Ike.
LB: Uh-huh. Yep, people do. You become complacent.
JZ: Yes. Why do you think that is?
LB: Because you have a lot of people who want to forget. And you have a lot of people that didn’t live through it — like weren’t really touched by it. And then [0:40:00] you’ve got younger people that are older that didn’t, you know, really experience it at the level that an adult would have. And so I think it just sort of [unclear, 0:40:11] itself out.
JZ: Is there anything else that I haven’t asked you or that you haven’t mentioned that you’d like to talk about? It can be anything.
LB: I think I’ve told you pretty much everything. And I appreciate you all doing this. I think this is good to pass this along. And I imagine your last question was on one of the biggest reasons why — is because people do become complacent. And people do forget — and to remember not the devastation as much as the survival and how people came out of it and that they learned that they were resilient and that they could make it. I mean, it builds a part of character that you don’t get any other way. You have to experience something that you don’t think [0:41:00] you’re going to master. And you do.
JZ: And you do.
LB: And it’s good.
JZ: That’s good. Thank you for very much.
LB: Thank you.
JZ: Like I was mentioning earlier, in the future when we’re both gone, people will be listening to this, because it’s something — I don’t think Houston’s going anywhere. And hurricanes aren’t going anywhere, so it’s something that’s going to be repeated. And it’s great that people 50 years, 100 years, 200 years from now will have this saved. And they can listen to our interaction, our conversation, and know that there’s lessons to be learned. And perhaps a hundred years from now, people are still repeating the same mistakes as you’re doing now. Hopefully, not, but I hope this serves as something.
LB: Yes. Thank you, Johnny.
JZ: Thank you.
LB: I’ve enjoyed this opportunity.
JZ: Me, too.
LB: Okay, bye. [0:41:45]