Cullybackey couple witness Houston floods

George Young and son Stephen helping with clean-up operations in Houston. The area in which this property is situated was subjected to flooding to a level of eight feet.
George Young and son Stephen helping with clean-up operations in Houston. The area in which this property is situated was subjected to flooding to a level of eight feet.

People from Cullybackey have witnessed the devastation inflicted on the Texan city of Houston at first hand.

They were caught up in Tropical Storm Harvey as it wrought havoc on the US city in what has been described as a ‘once in 1,000 years’ weather event.

Aftermath: By now a familiar site in Houston. One family's belongings, rescued from a flooded property, are stacked at the side of the road.

Aftermath: By now a familiar site in Houston. One family's belongings, rescued from a flooded property, are stacked at the side of the road.

Cullybackey couple, George and Dorothea Young were in Houston visiting son Stephen and their grandchildren.

They were expecting a holiday of sun and fun - but they were plunged into the middle of one of the worst natural disasters in US history.

More than 30 inches of rain fell in the area in just three days and to put that statistic into perspective it is the volume which Northern Ireland would receive in 12 months!

George, a retired health worker, said: “We were having a great time and then all of a sudden it changed. My son lives on an elevation, so the house was not flooded.

A rescue operation during the flooding in Houston.

A rescue operation during the flooding in Houston.

“The scene was almost unbelievable as the rain came pouring down. It was scary but for other people it must have been truly devastating.”

While son Stephen’s house was not flooded, there was a time of genuine concern in the immediate area as water levels continued to rise before receding.

George said the situation in Houston was ‘like armageddon’.

“People were camping on roofs or up in their attics. The whole scene is surreal. Cars were just floating away in the floods. It was like armageddon. We are truly grateful to have avoided the very worst and I’ll not complain about the rain again at home.”

George and son Stephen joined an army of volunteers who have been trying to bring whatever help they can to those affected.

Some of the scenes they witnessed were desperate but George was also touched to see so many ordinary people ready to come to the aid of total strangers.

“We were in the midst of absolute devastation the likes of which I have never seen. It’s a very sad scene as you will appreciate but I do have to say that what I am seeing is Christianity at its best.

“People came from areas less affected to help those whose loss is greater than theirs has been. The repair task is one of Herculean proportions. It will take a long time for the affected households to recover.

“The resilience of those affected has been moving. People are exhibiting great spirit - they’ve been hit hard but they want to get started on the rebuild. They know life has to go on.”