Just like any other morning, Marsha Bias, got dressed and made her way to the kitchen for breakfast like she would any other day.
But this day was different.
She did not wake up in the home she is used to in the Beaumont neighborhood, where almost 50 inches of rain poured down damaging the area. She woke up miles away in Port Arthur, Texas across town in a cramped hotel room with two double beds; Bias and her husband were in one, and her daughter and granddaughter slept in the bed next to them.
“Now, all we can do is wake up and think of another way to have a peaceful day like everything is alright,” said Bias.
Bias and her family are among thousands of Texans displaced from their homes by Hurricane Harvey that swallowed cities like Beaumont and Port Arthur earlier in August. As Houston found its relief, it marked the beginning of suffering for small cities and towns when clouds shifted their way.
Piles of debris still remain in various neighborhoods and streets. Three months after the storm, people are living in hotels, trailers or sleeping on couches of friends and family members as they figure out their future.
Around one in the morning, the night of the flood, Bias’ family detected that the water was coming in stronger and faster than before. Like many in Texas, the thought of a flood was the least likely thing to cross their minds. When Harvey arrived to town, he made himself terribly, horribly comfortable.
“Water never floods on our block. We didn’t expect to see what we saw. I don’t think anyone was prepared for what we got,” said Bias.
Her family found it fairly difficult to get a way out of their home. With her husband not being there and across the way at a hotel, they had to search for options. Knocking at their front door were snakes, and they were everywhere. With a baby, it was a big scare as water wedged through various walls of their home. Water rose to up to their knees in the home, and they watched electronics and things they never thought would float pass them by.
“I work in a professional environment. So, it’s like we can’t just go to work in flip flops and t-shirts. To see all my clothes and stuff, it hurt,” said Bias.
For many people in Texas, life was the biggest blessing to have after this Category 4 hurricane. Although that was amazing for many, some losses are of things that people are incapable of getting back. For Bias, memories she had were the toughest to let go.
Months before the storm, her son passed away. She had photos dating back to him being a baby that she no longer has to remember him. The toughest moment throughout the flood besides saving her family was watching physical memories that she once had float away.
“How can you replace everything you own? Stuff you’ve accumulated over time. How do you replace that?” said Bias. “I had pictures of my kids that got wet. I can never replace those. My son is deceased, so I have nothing,” said Bias.
Luckily after calling for help, the Port Arthur Fire Department came and scooped the three of them up. Soon, reality kicked in after being rescued, and they were off to find a new location to lay their heads.
Three months later, the sad reality is still a reality for Bias and her family. While many are in the middle of rebuilding their homes, the multitasking of bills has become a new problem she faces. As she helped others file for Red Cross, she personally was denied. FEMA assistance provided $1,300 to them, but all of it has been going towards the cost of hotel fees. Utilities and rent are additional bills they have to worry about as they work to clean their home and spray for mold.
“I was off for like a month in order for us to get our house together,” said Bias. “I’ve been here since the beginning of November, but all of that money is running out.”
Marsha and her husband Kenneth over the past three months have worked on gutting their home while living in the hotel. Walking into their home for the first time after the hurricane left them in awe. It was a health catastrophe unfolding in slow motion. Mold spread out from the walls to the shelves and to the furniture. It was hard to breathe and stand for more than a minute because of how overwhelming it was.
Looking at the hurricane with then a glass half full, she sees the blessing that came from it. The strength of her family grew, and knowing that they are all alive and safe brings joy. A rare occasion of people in the community helping one another shocked her in the best way possible.
“We have nothing. We had to start all over, but we all are in this together,” said Bias.