It’s been a week since the flooding struck Houston and I followed a Red Cross mobile feeding operation into the impacted Chateau Forest neighborhood. I spotted an older couple, Sharon and Victor Robertson, sitting in the shade of their garage, taking a hard-earned lunch break. I stopped up to say hi and see how they were doing.
Sharon pointed to her husband, who was a bit pale and thin and had a dust mask pulled over the top of his head. “He shouldn’t even be here, or doing any of this clean up. He’s undergoing treatment for cancer,” Sharon said.
Given the scale of the task before them and the rapidly rising afternoon heat, I worried for Victor. A pile of discarded furniture and water-soaked rugs, bedding and trash dominated the front yard, pushing out all the way to the curb. Sharon went on to recount how floodwaters had engulfed the 4-foot-high mailbox across the street. Then a rescue boat pulled up to their neighbor’s front door.
“He was really ill, it was an emergency and he needed to get out,” Victor explained. However Victor and Sharon stayed put. They were trapped in their home for two days, stuck with soaked mattresses and with only living room recliners to sleep on.
“I had to spend two nights in a chair,” Sharon explained. Then she moved on quickly to a much happier subject. “We just celebrated our 50-year wedding anniversary,” she said. As she described the party, I noticed the large live oak that spread out like an oversized, green parasol that dramatically framed the front of their home. “That tree is 48 years old,” Sharon said, “I planted it myself.” She explained the tree had a couple of close calls. It was nearly run down by a lawn mower and sustained major damage from Hurricane Allison. Looking out from her garage and high up into the branches, Sharon added, “This tree survived. So will we.”