A team from the Houston Chronicle follows five Houstonians before, during, and just after Hurricane Harvey. Taking us from August 25th to August 31st, day by day, they need no editorial flourishes or hyperbolic language to drive home the fear, confusion, and destruction.
Every time they picked up one flood victim, another appeared: A man with oxygen tanks, along with his nightgown-wearing wife and their three lapdogs. A family of eight as the flood closed in on a high point in the street.
Ellis was motoring back to dry ground – they needed gas – when he looked into a stand of oak trees. He saw something floating, and almost ignored it. Then it moved. He swung the boat around.
A man, his nose and mouth barely above water, holding his wallet and cellphone overhead, bobbed in the current. He grabbed the bow, and hung on. Ellis’ cousin jumped out and helped him in.
“Have you rescued a lady with a white dog?” he asked. Ellis shook his head.
The man kept describing the woman, and the dog, their whole way back to dry ground.
As if, maybe, if he could only describe her better, it would change their answer.