Houston Flooding Dislocates Downs Native | WGLT

Houston Flooding Dislocates Downs Native

Aug 29, 2017

A Downs native said he and his wife made one bad decision that resulted in a two-day odyssey to escape the floodwaters of Hurricane Harvey.

John McManus grew up in Downs. His father was once mayor in the village.

McManus and his wife, Renee, were visiting a friend in the hospital as the storm bore down on Houston. John McManus said their friend died at the hospital and by the time they left, they became trapped with water behind them and ahead of them on the road.

They pulled into the parking lot of a medical arts building near a junior college and tried to get to the highest point in the parking lot. Six inches of rain came down in the first half hour and 16 by midday the next day. The water rose all night.

"It was encouraging to see people pulling together."

McManus said they repositioned the car a couple times putting it closer to the building. At 4 a.m. the water was coming up under the rocker panels of the car.

He said they did not feel afraid, exactly.

"It's more an impending feeling of what are we going to do now. You are busy trying to figure things out," said McManus.

He said it's a slow race against time, not a sudden fear. They had no water and no food.

"I had a tire-changing tool and thought about breaking into the building to take shelter higher up. There was a day care center in the building and I thought maybe they would have some baby food. These are the kind of things going through your head," said McManus.

There were people nearby, but it wasn't much help. They were also isolated on their own little hillocks.

"There was a junior college across the way with maybe one security guard and a skunk that had made it there," said McManus.

About midday the next day, a military vehicle came by that had an elevate air intake that allowed the engine to continue functioning even when the water came up to the driver's waist. That vehicle took them part of the way to safety as it continued its mission to rescue people on rooftops.

Then, McManus said, a man in a monster truck with 3 feet of clearance slowly splashed through the water and took them the rest of the way to meet friends.
He said he saw a lot of people walking, talking, wading, and helping each other. One couple floated their dog down the street in a cooler so he did not get wet.  

"It was encouraging to see people pulling together," said McManus.

He said more bands of rain are scheduled at least through Wednesday. Neighbors have told him his own house is OK so far.

John McManus and his wife, Renee, said they are now dry and warm and there is power for now.

"We were lucky," he said.

You can also listen to GLT's full interview with McManus.

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