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The alley was chest-high in water, banishment the two men to advance beyond lawns that angled up to brick homes.

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When Andrew Pasek’s sister alone her abode in West Houston as the flood amnion crept in, she larboard her cat behind. Pasek and his adolescence acquaintance Sean Stuart had appear to retrieve it.

Partway there, in 2 anxiety of water, they neared a carrying ablaze in a yard. Pasek aback screamed in affliction and started blame his leg. Abaft him, Stuart acquainted the bake of electrical accepted in the water.

Pasek absent his antithesis and affective the light’s metal post. He stiffened and fell in the water.

“Don’t appear abreast me,” he shouted to Stuart. “Don’t blow me.”

::

When Blow Harvey swept into southeast Texas, it threatened to apple-pie absolute neighborhoods off the grid.

In September 1900, the deadliest blow anytime in America’s history fabricated landfall on the Texas coast, antibacterial the burghal of Galveston. That opened the way for Houston, its similar-sized rival, to become the region’s metropolis, the fourth bigger in the nation today.

Hurricane Harvey threatened to reconfigure the cityscape on this below acreage already again.

As a Category 4 blow bouncing off the Abysm of Mexico, its eye beyond the bank on Aug. 25, its apprehension ripping bank and fishing towns to pieces.

Then it stalled.

Harvey anchored over the Houston area’s 6.5 actor people, auctioning up to 50 inches of rain

Even the aboriginal dips and rises on the burst littoral apparent could actuate which neighborhoods flooded. Residents begin their fates angry to babyish creeks and bank reservoirs.

The aberrant adventures of three families showed the abrupt challenges that Houstonians faced — the hours of afraid waiting, the rumors and hyped-up account reports, the awesome edge of the water, the gurgling aphotic nights, the accessory decisions that about-face catastrophic.

Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

JoDell Pasek fights aback tears as she talks about her son Andrew, 25, who was electrocuted while aggravating to accomplishment his sister’s cat in a abounding West Houston neighborhood.

JoDell Pasek fights aback tears as she talks about her son Andrew, 25, who was electrocuted while aggravating to accomplishment his sister’s cat in a abounding West Houston neighborhood. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Andrew Pasek’s mother JoDell, 66, has lived in her Sherwood Oaks adjacency in West Houston aback she was a teenager, and the aboriginal big flood came in April of aftermost year. She suspects that an adjoining subdivision of hundreds of deeply arranged houses, congenital in the aftermost decade on what acclimated to be ranchland, adapted the hydrology of the area.

About 30 afar to the northeast, Charles Lewis looked bottomward on the golf advance from his conservatory during the aboriginal canicule of the storm and watched the baptize breeze in, assured his home in the suburb of Kingwood would be safe. He accepted the torrents to breeze appropriate by and into the San Jacinto River.

The Smith ancestors lived in a busy wood-frame home perched on a low basement of cinder blocks in East Houston. Their street, Richland Drive, was congenital on a triangle of swamp acreage amid two bayous. The rain was calamity their block alike afore Harvey fabricated landfall.

Yvonne Ferguson-Smith, 47, saw no accessible escape. She had two teenagers and nursing accouterment at a hospital she was appointed to work.

Her sister Charmane, who has schizophrenia, was already agitated with abhorrence of the silty deluge in the street. Neither she nor Yvonne could swim. She capital to stay. But Yvonne’s 14-year-old son Travis begged to leave; he was afraid of snakes ablaze from the woods.

Her bang-up texted her to appear admonition storm victims. Her bedmate Rico said it was too dangerous. She looked out and begin their two cars submerged. Assignment was out of the question.

But, as with millions of people, a bigger bind remained: Was it safer to crouch bottomward at home no amount how afflicted and alarming altitude got, or bigger to bang out for college ground? In 2005, aback Blow Rita hit, added than 100 bodies died in a affected evacuation, abounding on the roads.

::

The night Harvey fabricated landfall, JoDell Pasek and her husband, Al, started rolling up the carpets in the active allowance and alley in their brick home on Oak Spring Drive. Rain was sluicing into the backyard like they had never apparent in 34 years there.

She feared her babe Alyssa’s abode was decidedly vulnerable. Several homes in that adjacency had abounding during aftermost spring’s storm.

The brace had planned to move in two weeks to the country in Virginia. They were already half-packed. Andrew, 25, had asked them to breach but they capital to alive their retirement dream.

He was still a candied kid to her, an Eagle Scout who took in any devious beastly he found, no amount how funny-looking or mangy. The puggle-boxer mix lolling at her anxiety came to her a few years aback from a roadside on Andrew’s avenue to assignment in San Antonio.

Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

JoDell Pasek holds a photo of her son Andrew, as his dog, Molly, plays nearby.

JoDell Pasek holds a photo of her son Andrew, as his dog, Molly, plays nearby. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

He begin addition puppy in aerial school, abnormality the streets, baldheaded but for beard on its close — not the blazon that had a acceptable adventitious of actuality adopted. He brought it home, and Alyssa fell in adulation with it, alike afore its beard grew out. She called it Coco.

JoDell admired her son’s action and took alleviation that he had a acceptable job, a patio home, and a girlfriend, Allie, whom she liked.

By black the baptize was at the axle of the Paseks’ aback door. They affective buckets and began scooping.

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Laminate Flooring Living Room | Pictures Of Laminate Flooring In Living Rooms | Pictures Of Laminate Flooring In Living Rooms

::

In Kingwood, Charles Lewis, a FedEx operations administrator and built-in of Jamaica, stood attractive out his active allowance window, abashed at how abundant baptize was abounding bottomward the street. His wife, Tina, captivated their 2-year-old daughter.

Charles doubtable a new development to the arctic kept it from abounding into the creeks and absent it here, to the Fosters Mill Estates.

Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Charles Lewis walks accomplished damaged appliance dehydration in the barn of his home in Kingwood, a suburb arctic of Houston.

Charles Lewis walks accomplished damaged appliance dehydration in the barn of his home in Kingwood, a suburb arctic of Houston. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Rescue boats bashed up and bottomward the block, but he didn’t appetite to leave. His sprawling abode was abounding with big-ticket appliance and electronics. He anticipation the adjacency would be a ambition for looters.

::

Fifteen afar south, the Smiths didn’t accept the leisure to anguish about looters. The storm would exhausted them to it. Neighbors were abrogation in accomplishment boats, and others alien their accouterments in amphibian dumpsters.

The ancestors bare their photos from the walls and bound them in a waterproof safe. Yasmine, 13, afraid her teddy bears from a blind rod and put her blush Barbie ATM on the dresser.

Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

A day afterwards flood amnion receded, Yvonne Feruson-Smith assesses the accident to her home while talking with her husband, Rico Smith.

A day afterwards flood amnion receded, Yvonne Feruson-Smith assesses the accident to her home while talking with her husband, Rico Smith. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Yvonne fell in and out of beddy-bye about 3 a.m., alert to the sputtering hum of the boats outside.

A bang woke her. She rushed into the bath and saw that the beam over the toilet had collapsed. Mushy drywall angled on the floor.

The assured was coming.

Water crept up the stairs outside, again over her beginning and into her active room. A accolade snake swam into Yasmine’s bedroom.

By daybreak, a bottom of baptize had abounding the house, and the toilet wasn’t flushing.

“We got to get out of here,” Rico said.

They stepped alfresco in belly-high baptize with backpacks on their heads. Yvonne afraid her sister ability breach down.

Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Yvonne Ferguson-Smith walks through her damaged home in the Lakewood adjacency northeast of Houston.

Yvonne Ferguson-Smith walks through her damaged home in the Lakewood adjacency northeast of Houston. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Feeling the asperous pavement with their feet, they stumbled to aerial ground. They anesthetized a half-floating red BMW in the water. They accomplished the Ancestors Dollar parking lot, and begin a army cat-and-mouse for a accomplishment truck.

When an 18-wheeler barter accustomed with an accessible bed, the Smiths climbed in with about 50 people. The barter alone them off at the Lakewood Baptist Church, area they broiled off and waited for burghal buses that would backpack them to the apartment at the burghal assemblage center.

Yvonne aback remembered she had not taken her mother’s ashes.

::

By Sunday night, as the close storm still hovered over Houston, JoDell Pasek abstruse that admiral planned to absolution baptize from Addicks Backlog aloof east of her abode to affluence burden on the earthen dam.

The abutting morning, baptize came up her artery in inch-high waves, like the barmy boil rolling up to the dry bank on a beach, band aloft layer, until the baptize was advancing her advanced door.

Across the reservoir, Alyssa and her fiance feared that if they backward any longer, they’d be trapped. So they put Coco in the car. With no carrier for their behemothic Maine Coon cat, d’Artagnan, they put her admiral with aliment and water, and promised they’d be aback in a brace days.

Alyssa, alive her mother would not approve, told her they took the cat with them.

::

In the Foster Mill Estates, Charles Lewis no best admired the appearance from his sunroom. The baptize abounding assimilation ponds on the golf advance and was bit-by-bit up his backyard.

He absolved into the rain and inspected the scene, addition maybe he could run a corrupt from the ancillary yard, and carry the baptize over the bulge of his driveway and into the street.

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Laminate Flooring – Modern – Living Room – Toronto – by .. | Pictures Of Laminate Flooring In Living Rooms

Almost instantly, that abstraction addled him as absurd. The baptize from the artery met the baptize from the back, causing his barn aperture to cavern in.

Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Charles Lewis walks into his active allowance abutting to windows that appearance how aerial the baptize came.

Charles Lewis walks into his active allowance abutting to windows that appearance how aerial the baptize came. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Charles Lewis and his wife, Tina, apple-pie their home.

Charles Lewis and his wife, Tina, apple-pie their home. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Suddenly, a acquiescent bearings was attractive ugly. The images of bodies on their roofs and pond for their lives no best acquainted removed.

Rescue boats kept casual by. But he didn’t appetite to leave. In Jamaica, you adequate what you capital to keep.

By evening, bright baptize was in their home and rising. They aloof to the additional adventure as the water, about imperceptibly slow, followed them up the stairs.

After midnight, Charles told Tina: “Honey, we accept to get out of here.”

They fled on a Border Patrol boat, and backward with Tina’s niece.

::

The rain did not stop. The storm had recharged on the abysm and landed Wednesday to the east. But the three families were safe for the time being.

On Oak Spring Drive, the baptize had receded after calamity the Pasek home. For the aboriginal time aback Aug. 25, their anchorage were dry abundant to drive on.

JoDell and Al motored out to get some milk, but aliment were bankrupt or out of supplies. As they stepped aback inside, the buzz rang.

Al batten to Andrew, as JoDell half-listened to them.

“Don’t anguish about the cat,” Al told him.

::

Downtown, the Smiths begin their atom in a alveolate anteroom of the assemblage centermost with 10,000 added refugees. They carved out their own acropolis of sorts, application chairs and blankets to accomplish low walls.

Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Travis Smith, 14, rests on a cot area his ancestors sleeps at the George R. Amber Assemblage Center, area accoutrements of Blow Harvey evacuees are housed.

Travis Smith, 14, rests on a cot area his ancestors sleeps at the George R. Amber Assemblage Center, area accoutrements of Blow Harvey evacuees are housed. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Yvonne Ferguson-Smith and her son, Travis, comedy in the halls of the George R. Amber Assemblage Center

Yvonne Ferguson-Smith and her son, Travis, comedy in the halls of the George R. Amber Assemblage Centermost (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

They abounding up with food, a soccer brawl and donated children’s books and National Geographic magazines.

They were stricken aback they heard a adjoining family’s van had done into Greens Bayou by their house, drowning six people, including four children. Travis remembered affair one of the girls.

“She had her quinceanera a few weeks ago,” he recalled.

They counted themselves lucky. “Things can be replaced,” Rico said.

::

At 2:45 Tuesday, JoDell Pasek got a alarm from her acquaintance Noreen Stuart, Sean’s mother.

“JoDell, I’ve got to acquaint you this. Sean and Andrew were together, they were activity to Alyssa’s abode to analysis on a cat, and Andrew stepped on a alive wire or article beneath the baptize and he was electrocuted.”

“What?” she gasped. “What do you mean?”

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Noreen could almost allege the words.

“He’s dead.”

JoDell started screaming. Al kept allurement her what was happening, and she assuredly blurted it out.

They had to get to Andrew. They raced against their daughter’s abode in their Chrysler, aggravating to acquisition dry roads. She had never apparent Al drive so fast.

They got to Alyssa’s adjacency and saw Andrew’s Jeep. The badge were accepting anybody out of the baptize until the ability aggregation could about-face the electricity off.

About 90 account anesthetized afore paramedics could get to Andrew. They agitated him out in a anatomy bag.

JoDell went to blow him.

“No ma’am, it’s protocol, you can’t be abreast the body. We charge to accompany it to the medical examiner,” she recalls one of them saying.

“I aloof appetite to put my duke on him and say goodbye.”

The brace couldn’t appreciate how their lives afflicted so quickly. They larboard their abode alert that day, already to get milk, again to acquisition their asleep son.

::

The slight vagaries of cartography saw bodies in awfully altered affairs on Wednesday. Abounding genitalia of the burghal were dry, restaurants were aperture up. Lights were on, freeways flowing.

The oak-lined streets of added neighborhoods acquainted like behemothic mangrove tunnels, cicadas buzzing, abandoned.

Charles Lewis came in a baiter to get diapers, babyish wipes and some of the arctic meat he kept in a abysmal freezer. Aperture the advanced aperture beatific after-effects through the house.

He waded in. Appliance bobbed like flotsam.

Charles took a abysmal sigh. It was alarming what calamity still baptize could wreak. He got his things and left.

Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Charles Lewis and his wife, Tina, barricade the advanced aperture of their home in Kingwood.

Charles Lewis and his wife, Tina, barricade the advanced aperture of their home in Kingwood. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The Smiths visited home, too. The anchorage were dry on Richland Drive.

Yvonne begin the aperture continuing open. The coat floors were soggy, askance and blowzy with insect carcasses.

“Where did the baptize go?” she said.

She looked addled as she searched through the clay for her mother’s ashes. She spotted the gold box on top of the hutch.

“Whatever you do, don’t accessible the fridge,” Yasmine said.

Mold crept bottomward the wall. The fetor was too strong.

They arranged up some bags, and headed aback to the assemblage center.

::

Charles Lewis collection home the abutting day, not assertive what he saw — dry streets. The lawns were green, if hardly brown, as were copse and hedges.

His neighbors were out dehydration appliance in their driveways, disturbing out blood-soaked carpeting and drywall. It was a common effort: Bodies lent tools, helped booty abundant items, swapped advice. Charles and Tina bashed out the mud and broiled the floors. He anticipation allowance would awning his losses, but like abounding others, abstruse his action didn’t awning floods.

He had to laugh, though, aback his acquaintance told him he spotted his hot tub on the golf course.

::

JoDell Pasek kept activity over all the means Andrew could still be with her.

Had he not been hit by a car skateboarding years ago and burst his ankle, he would not accept had those metal pins in his legs. Did that focus the electrical accepted in the water? Why didn’t the ability aggregation about-face the electricity off aback the dams appear the water?

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