Trying to survive through Hurricane Harvey
Jon and Kelly (Rozenboom) Hagedorn grew up in the Blue Earth area, but have been living in Houston, Texas, for the last six years.
Recently, Houston was hit by the now-well-known Hurricane Harvey. Torrential winds and massive flooding caused thousands, if not millions, of residents out of homes.
But, for the couple who once called Blue Earth their home, they say they stayed put.
“We’ve lived here for six years and have never seen anything like this,” says Kelly Hagedorn. “We live in an apartment complex and thankfully live on the second floor, so our apartment was not damaged, but we were stuck in our apartment for two days with no working water or electricity.”
Hagedorn says she and her husband went to the roof of their apartment building to look at the extent of the damage throughout their neighborhood. While on the roof, they witnessed rescue helicopters still evacuating residents who were in dire need of help.
“We were okay, we had a safe, dry place to be, we just couldn’t go anywhere. We were okay, but we have so many friends and neighbors down here who have had everything just demolished. There is nothing left for them.”
Hagedorn says Harvey hit on Saturday, Sept. 2, with just sprinkles, while Sunday, Sept. 3, it hit with insurmountable force.
“Sunday was the worst. It just poured and poured and poured, and then it went back out?(to the Gulf of Mexico) and came back inland,” she says. “After we had so much rain, the city had to release its reservoirs, they had no choice, and that’s why we’ve had so many flooding issues. The west side of the city is still under water.”
Hurricane Harvey was a category four hurricane and became the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Hurricane Wilma in 2005. In the four day period of Harvey’s “visit” to Houston, areas in the city received more than 40 inches of rain as the system continued over eastern Texas and adjacent areas. It is said that Harvey caused at least 71 confirmed deaths in his path.
“That was the scariest part. We did not know when the flooding would stop, and it became a waiting game,” says Hagedorn.
Economic losses have been estimated between $70-200 billion, with a vast portion of those economic losses sustained by uninsured homes.
“So many people didn’t have flood insurance,” says Hagedorn. “Their homes are done for because Houston just isn’t usually prone to flooding. It was so sad to witness. Cars under water, homes under water, just destructive. Pure and simple.”
Kelly currently is doing residency at the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston while Jon is studying anesthesia at Baylor University. Kelly says their medical center was also flooded.
“We asked if we could come in to help relieve people that were unsafe, but we were told not to even make an effort for our own safety,” says Hagedorn. “The good thing that we have seen come out of all of this are the charities and the immense help being given to the area. Charities like the JJ Watts Foundation and the Red Cross have done terrific things already, but we have so much to come back from.
Hagedorn says if those in the Minnesota area want to help, monetary donations are probably best.
“Unless you are here and able to help with cleaning up or caring for victims of the hurricane, monetary donations are always needed,” she says.
Family after family have fled to find temporary housing, but, much like Hurricane Katrina, it seems those temporary housing situations may be a little more permanent for some folks.
“It is just so surreal. Our lives have pretty much gone back to normal at this point,” says Hagedorn. “But not for so, so many other families. I’m just thankful we grew up in a place like Blue Earth. It’s where that ‘Minnesota nice’ really came in, we really wanted to help and we’ve been doing what we can. Living in Blue Earth showed us that neighbors are important; community is important, and if we can exemplify that to our Houston neighbors, maybe we can recover from this a little easier.”