Tracy McManaman-Bridges has been a nurse in Houston for 10 years and lived through last week’s massive hurricane that has caused millions of dollars in damage. While the Amherst native’s home was not damaged, some in her neighbourhood weren’t as fortunate.
HOUSTON, Tex. – Tracy McManaman-Bridges is amazed by the resiliency of Texans in the aftermath of hurricane Harvey.
The Amherst native has worked as a nurse at a Houston-area hospital for 10 years after spending another decade working in North Carolina. In the days since Texas was slammed by the powerful storm, she says Texans have come together to help those in need.
“People really come together in times like this and anyone who needs help is getting help,” she said. “That’s what’s special about Texas, no one is being left behind. People are going into the poorer areas to get people out and doing whatever they can to help out.”
McManaman-Bridges was at work at Houston Methodist Sugar Land through most of the storm as a member of the facility’s ride-out team and it was only Wednesday that she was finally able to return to her home, which was untouched by the storm. The damage is close, though.
“Literally 10 houses from where we are the houses were destroyed by the flooding. We only had minimal damage here, but driving up the street you see piles and piles of furniture and drywall in front of people’s houses. Now they have to wait for construction companies to come and fix,” she said. “It depends on where you live. It unfortunate that the hardest hit people are the poor people who live in apartments that won’t get fixed and housing that won’t get put back together.”
On Thursday, McManaman-Bridges, who is also a professor at the University of Houston’s nursing college, was taking her students out into the community to volunteer in the hardest hit areas.
She said very few people in the area have flood insurance.
“There are a lot of people who have nothing, they got out just with the clothes they were wearing,” she said.
McManaman-Bridges said she has lived through several hurricanes and near misses, including Ike that also caused millions of dollars of damage in September 2008. While Harvey brought lots of wind to Houston, it was the several days of torrential rain that swelled rivers and streams and caused massive flooding.
She expects some areas around the city of six million to be uninhabitable for weeks or months, if not years.
A lot of preparations were made for the storm, she said, including sending most of her hospital’s more critical patients and babies to Dallas, but the severity of the flooding was not expected and has done tremendous damage to parts of the city. While the weather has cleared, and the sun returned, the flood waters are continuing to rise, meaning the situation could get worse before it gets better.
“It’s nice out now, but it’s expected that it will be Saturday before all the rivers crest and drain,” she said. “The hurricanes for us usually aren’t that bad, but this one landed about two to three hours from here and dropped a lot of rain on us which led to the flooding. When the storm went through the rain was so bad you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face, it was that bad. Problem is, it sat over us for 18 hours and didn’t move. You pretty much had to stay where you were and let it settle down, then it continued raining for three to four days.”
People really come together in times like this and anyone who needs help is getting help. That’s what’s special about Texas, no one is being left behind. People are going into the poorer areas to get people out and doing whatever they can to help out.
Amherst native and Houston nurse Tracy McManaman-Bridges