My Story – Caught in a Hurricane

Story submitted by Kamryn Bettelon, Department of Judicial Administration

I was caught in a flash flood coming home from vacation during Hurricane Harvey. Water on the road where my rental car was stuck reached almost 17 feet high. I know this because the sticker on the freeway overpass said “Clearance 16’9″” and water had reached that sign and was splashing the top of the Beltway 8. A good Samaritan saw us and pulled us out. Houston had become an ocean overnight and within moments, I didn’t know if we’d survive. I also didn’t know if I’d still have a job when I got home or when I would even get home since they’d closed the airport indefinitely.

I texted my supervisor, reached out to co-workers through text, and tried to keep myself together, safe, and dry. Thank goodness for King County! My direct supervisor communicated with me and worked with me every day until I was home-6 days later! That was a huge stress reliever and kept me sane. When I finally made it home and to work the Tuesday after Labor Day, three co-workers offered and donated their hard-earned vacation hours to me so that I could receive a full paycheck and begin the process of rebuilding.

Natural disasters are expensive! An extra week in a hotel, food that is sold at a premium price, and rental car fees for a flood-damaged vehicle add up quick! I estimate I spent $1200 on the ground trying to make it through Hurricane Harvey and that is not including the insurance deductible I will pay for the damaged rental car.

This experience taught me to be grateful for the people in my life and when disaster strikes, if you survive, you help where you can.

I watched a t.v. news reporter drop her mic and flag down a passerby with a boat to help rescue a semi driver that was up to his cab, in the water. I saw tireless volunteers in paddleboards, surfboards, and in rafts rescuing people and animals until it was too dark to see and then they would turn on the spotlights and search some more. People who lost their homes and had nothing-NOTHING-but the clothes on their backs survived the rising waters and turned around to go back into the waters to find whoever could be found. They did this because they could and just having that was the best possession.

That is what I am doing now. I am choosing to help the disaster relief efforts this year as part of the Employee Giving Program. It is just a small part but I have to what I can do.

What’s your story? Share here!