Harvey's hidden victims need our help, too

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Aug. 31, 2017 at 7:21 p.m.
Updated Sept. 1, 2017 at 6 a.m.

While many Crossroads residents have begun assessing damage and rebuilding their lives, others are still fighting the wrath of Hurricane Harvey.

Among them are residents near the Guadalupe River in the southern areas of Victoria, an area that traditionally floods whenever heavy rains drench the region.

We cannot forget about any of the victims of Harvey and the flooding that followed. The stories feel endless.

Alex Gonzalez, 34, and Franshesca Arce, 32, are homeowners in Greens Addition, a west Victoria neighborhood where the Guadalupe River water swept through Wednesday.

Throughout much of the neighborhood, the river overflowed its banks, flooding streets and filling homes with muddy floodwater carried south from counties to the north.

The couple and their four children are staying with relatives in Victoria because they have no other place to go.

There is no public emergency shelter still open in Victoria or any immediate relief for flood victims - who are also hurricane victims.

Arce said the family applied Tuesday for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

As of Thursday afternoon, they have heard no response.

She said a neighbor received FEMA funds to pay for a month's housing, so she hopes for some relief soon.

"I don't want to sound like I'm complaining," Arce said. "I am just hoping. We don't want to be a burden to anybody. We are just trying to make it back and hope the water goes down."

O.C. Garza, spokesman for the city of Victoria, said the city has established a shelter hotline, but an attendant who answered said the best option for a flood victim would be to apply for FEMA or American Red Cross assistance. There was no immediate remedy for a Victoria flood victim seeking emergency shelter.

We have to find a better solution to help residents still taking a beating from Hurricane Harvey. Garza estimated 100 families are affected by the flood. That's on top of the several hundred who were evacuated from Victoria in the first days after Harvey hit.

We understand this disaster is straining our resources like nothing the Crossroads has seen before.

Gonzalez and Arce are among those Victoria residents whose resilience is amazing.

Their spirit and determination will pull them through this disaster. Even amid their pain, they are thinking of others.

"Our house is probably ruined, but the people of Houston need help more than me," Arce said.

Her sister-in-law lives in Houston with three children. They were trapped and had to be rescued by boat from the rising floodwaters.

"They lost everything," Arce said, "and they are still going through it. ... We are a strong family, and we have each other's backs."

Arce's thoughts and words are selfless and commendable.

But let's hope this city, this state and this country are big enough to help every hurricane victim. We believe it's possible.

This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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