Albertans worry over family members in the path of Harvey

Click to play video 'Many Albertans caught up in Texas flooding disaster' Many Albertans caught up in Texas flooding disaster
WATCH ABOVE: Economics have created a strong bond between Alberta and Houston, Texas. As Fletcher Kent reports, that means there are many Albertans caught up in the Texas flooding disaster – Aug 28, 2017

Some Alberta residents have been trying to keep track of loved ones who live in the path of one-time hurricane and now tropical storm Harvey.

Red Deer resident Nick Kondra says he has kids and grandkids in the Houston area.

LISTEN: J’Lyn and Andrew speak with Albertans who have family in the Houston area on the 630 CHED Afternoon News

He told the 630 CHED Afternoon News that his son lives just over 100 kilometres southwest of George Bush International Airport.

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“Right now, there’s about three feet of water just outside his driveway, about six feet away from their house,” Kondra said. “He keeps texting us or sending pictures every so often, but if it gets worse, they have nowhere to go because they can’t drive their vehicles anywhere.”

“They’re just keeping in touch as long as they have power.”

A photo of the flooding about 100 kilometres southwest of George Bush International Airport in Texas.
A photo of the flooding about 100 kilometres southwest of George Bush International Airport in Texas. COURTESY: Nick Kondra

Edmontonian Natasha Ciona is also watching helplessly as Harvey inundates Houston, where her mother lives right in the path of where emergency responders are relieving pressure from nearby dams.

READ MORE: Former Edmontonian helping with rescue efforts as Harvey brings flooding to Texas

“That puts her home and the neighbourhood surrounding [it] in more imminent danger,” Ciona said. “So everyone in her neighbourhood is getting out of that area if they hadn’t already.”
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Her mother was able to find accommodation at a hotel, but Ciona is still worried for her.

“My mom doesn’t get around as easily,” she said. “Is someone going to be there to help my mom?… will my mom have all of her needs met there?”

Worse still, Ciona said, this is the second time her family has been through such an ordeal.

LISTEN: J’Lyn and Andrew speak with Albertans who have family in the Houston area on the 630 CHED Afternoon News

“Lots of people going through this in Houston lived through Katrina in New Orleans,” she said. “They had to evacuate… it took so long for New Orleans to recover that they started a new life in another state.”

For now, both Ciona and Kondra are just waiting to get updates from their loved ones, while hoping for the storm to finally pass.

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Watch below: Videos from Global News’ ongoing coverage of the storms and flooding in Texas in August 2017.

Edmonton’s former historian laureate Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail now lives in Houston with her family, and took time out from her evacuation to speak with 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen.

She said while living in Alberta, she’d seen extreme weather before.

“Actually, our basement flooded in 2013 when we were living in Mill Woods, and I remember those images of the Whitemud.” said Metcalfe-Chenail. “But it felt like such a, quick kind of, it happened, and then it was ‘okay, let’s get back on to the rebuilding.’

“This has been a marathon.”

Metcalfe-Chenail called the weather they’ve been dealing with “biblical”. She and her family evacuated Monday morning with just 90 minutes notice. Social media was key in plotting the family’s escape.

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“There’s a Facebook group for our neighbourhood and anyone that got out would write down what their path was, what roads they were taking, because the up-to-date information on the Drive Texas website was really hard to visualize and see,” she said.

LISTEN: Former Edmontonian Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail speaks with 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen about her family’s ordeal during Hurricane Harvey

“I had my phone out with the Drive Texas map and my husband’s phone with the Google Maps and Facebook, and just basically trying to triangulate roads that weren’t closed or flooded so that we wouldn’t get stranded, as you’ve seen in some of the images, where people are being rescued off of the roofs of their cars,” she said. “And you know, there’s me, my husband, my five-year-old son, our dog and our cat, and… aw man. It’s hard. It’s really hard.”

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She said doesn’t anticipate being allowed back home for at least a week. That’s in spite of the fact that there are levees in her neighbourhood designed for a 100 year weather event.

“But as you’ve been hearing, it’s been a 500 year event. So they were telling us they thought the pumps were going to malfunction, that the levees were going to overflow. And the latest videos that I’ve seen from my neighbourhood is that the south end of the development is, you know, the water’s creeping up to the front doors.

“Ours is still relatively dry, but they think the levees will break tonight.”

But there is some good news: Metcalfe-Chenail says there are a lot of other Albertans they know in the Houston area, and so far, everyone is safe.