Tom and Lisa Slagle

Tom and Lisa Slagle are both retired Houston firefighters who live in Kingwood. Tom served for thirty-six years and retired as District Chief. Lisa served the department for twenty years, retiring in 2014 as Incident Command Technician. Both Slagles worked predominantly within Houston’s inner city. As first responders they received intense training on dealing with natural disasters.

Due to flooding from Tropical Storm Alison in 2001, HFD responded on boats, rescuing people in the water. Once retired, the Slagles used their experience and training to prepared for Harvey as they had for Hurricane Ike in 2008, expecting power outages, and stocking up on food and water supplies, as well as a backup generator – all preparations that became useless when their house flooded up to five feet. Thanks to their training, the Slagles stayed calm and created multiple plans of action. They received extensive support from their church, neighbors, and fellow firefighters. However, after fourteen months doing repairs, the couple felt exhausted and frustrated, wishing the reconstruction phase would end so they could carry on their everyday lives.

Slagles with helpers

The Slagles had a hard time receiving help from FEMA due to their insurance plan, revealing the harsh nature of flood policies. When the couple turned the conversation to the community, the remembered the excitement they felt when Kingwood shops slowly started reopening. It felt strange at first seeing their neighbors out again since everyone had been occupied with their own homes and businesses.

To acknowledge the anniversary of Harvey, the Slagles were invited to a video showing at HFD, where people who were still suffering from the storm and did not have a home were asked to stand in a group. The Slagles admitted it was humanizing to see others still facing difficulties because it was easy to forget when focused on their issues. A year after Harvey, Tom and Lisa acknowledged the disaster and the personal and community growth they gained from it, including utilizing this experience to prepare for a similar event in the future.