Real Life Hurricane Harvey Stories from Inside Altus ER
Harvey Stories in Video, Photography, and Testimonies.
The days between August 25 – 30th will be etched in our Nation’s mind for eternity. The chaos ensuing Hurricane Harvey’s landfall on the Texas coast and the subsequent devastation of entire coastal and nearby towns is something that will take a long time to overcome.
Thankfully, Texans are a resilient people, and together we will rebuild our homes and businesses and come out stronger than ever before. This storm knocked us to our knees but it did not kill our spirit of service, there is no better example than the sacrifice made by the Altus ER staff. In spite of their personal circumstances, they banded together to keep our facilities in Baytown, Lake Jackson, Lumberton, and Waxahachie open before, during and after the storm.
“We were kind of a place of refuge in a way, we had people come in and you could tell they were in a state of shock because they had lost their homes and were currently living in a shelter. I don’t know, I just kind of saw them at their lowest point and thankfully we were able to at least help them through one part of their lives at that time” – Kamey Jolly, Register Nurse.
We could not be prouder of our dedicated staff, who put aside their personal needs to offer much needed medical attention to patients who otherwise would not have received any attention, we saved lives in the process and that is ultimately our mission.
Powerful Images in Drone Photos
Harvey Flooding from an Aerial Perspective.
HURRICANE HARVEY’S HISTORY
The Story of the Storm that Became One of the Most Destructive and Costliest Hurricanes in History
The weather system known as Harvey became a tropical storm on August 17th, just east of the Lesser Antilles, at which point it began to be watched closely by the National Hurricane Center. However, just a couple of days later, as the storm moved through the eastern Caribbean, it was hit by dry air and unfavorable winds which degraded it back to a tropical wave, as a result the National Hurricane Center stopped issuing advisories for the disturbance.
The remnants of Harvey continued moving northwest, crossing the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, on August 23rd it reached the Gulf of Mexico and encountered favorable conditions which led to it once again becoming a tropical storm.
Then the unthinkable happened, within 56 hours, Harvey turned from a tropical storm into a category 4 hurricane, catching all Texas coast residents off-guard, few had time to evacuate, or take the necessary precautions to safeguard their belongings and their lives.
Harvey made landfall late on August 25th, near the town of Rockport, but it continued to linger on the eastern coast of Texas for the next 4 days before making its final landfall near Cameron, LA. The system brought with it massive amounts of rain, causing record rainfall ranging from 40 to 52 inches of rain; resulting in several flash flood emergencies being issued for the cities of Houston, Beaumont, and other nearby communities.
The decision to keep all four of our Altus Emergency Center facilities open and prepared during this crisis proved to be a lifesaving especially in the case of our Lumberton facility due to our proximity to North Beaumont, a region that was severely affected by the flood waters. Had we not been available to accept patients from surrounding areas, these people would have had no medical attention at all.
Our brave staff of doctors, nurses, technicians, and other support positions, put aside their personal perils and hardships to provide quality care for those in need. The experience has had a profound impact in their lives, brought them closer as a team and as a community.
“We really had to pull together and it was a little scary knowing we were on our own little island and pretty much the only medical care for anyone to seek”
– Kamey Jolly Registered Nurse
A Street Perspective of Harvey
No matter how much you try to plan ahead, you can never understand the impact of a natural disaster until you live it. As the landfall date neared, people rushed to fill their cars with gas, encountering long lines as far as the eye could see. Then, supermarkets were left with bare shelves and the streets began to flood. Lovely neighborhoods were quickly flooded. Many are still feeling the effects of Hurricane Harvey.
WATCH THE VIDEO!
Hurricane Harvey Stories from Within Altus ER Lumberton
TESTIMONIES FROM INSIDE THE ER
Personal Stories of Loss and Survival
Like many other Texans our staff suffered the effects of this storm, many lost their homes and cars to flooding, others were separated from their loved ones during the rescue efforts, yet none of this kept them from coming into our Altus Emergency Center in Lumberton, Baytown, and Lake Jackson, to help patients in need of medical assistance.
If it were not for them, the number of fatal casualties from this storm would have been much higher than it was.
Hurricane Harvey as Lived by Courtney Bell
Losing your home and everything you have worked for over the years to flood waters, and having to be evacuated on an Army truck while being 25-weeks pregnant with your first child, is a terrifying experience, yet, this did not stop Courtney Bell, one of the registered nurses at our facility in Lumberton, from working a few shifts during this crisis to assist the members of the community and her co-workers, as well as to help her forget about her own problems for a while.
Throughout the entire ordeal, Courtney maintains a positive outlook on life while relying on her loved ones and awesome co-workers, she is hopeful everyone will get through this difficult time and has these encouraging words for her community:
“You are not alone, there are multiple people, millions who are going through this together, just everyday look up, be positive and know that in the end, everything is going to work out for the best”
– Courtney Bell RN
Kasey Hebert’s Heart-Wrenching Story
There are few things more frightening in life than not knowing where your loved ones are during a time of crisis. During the storm, Kasey’s parents’ home was flooded, and her 15-year-old daughter and partially paralyzed father had to leave their home in a boat, uncertain where they were going and with their cell phones about to die.
Despite the uncertainty she and her family were facing, Kesey a registrar at the Lumberton facility, like the rest of her co-workers, focused on the task at hand, helping patients, offering comfort and support.
Once out of harm’s way, it would take about a week for the family to reunite, and at that time, stepping into her parents’ home for the first time, Kasey realized how close she came to losing her family. Thankfully everyone is fine, but the experience has profoundly changed her, she has said she is not the same person who walked into the Altus Emergency Center in Lumberton on August 29th, when asked how she managed to get through this ordeal, she replied:
“It was so busy, non-stop, but every once in a while someone would give each other a hug and be like are you ok? We just pushed each other”
– Kasey Hebert Registrar
A Tour de Force for Loreal Irvine
Working non-stop in the only medical facility in the area during a time of crisis is one of the most stressful situations anyone can find themselves in. This is exactly what registered nurse Loreal Irvine experienced; she attended a patient for 3 days before they managed to get him out, unfortunately, this patient died the next day. As heartbreaking this was for her, it did not hamper her resolve to keep going and helping other patients, no matter how tired, scared, or sad she was, she kept going.
“We all took part in something that was out of our control and we saved a lot of lives… I think we helped the community, they needed us, so we opened our doors to them and ambulances, we took on all the ambulance patients when we weren’t even staffed to handle that kind of care…”
– Loreal Irvine RN
To her, it was an honor to have been a part of this and to have had the privilege to help her community.
Kamey Jolly: The Calm During the Storm
Handling overwhelming situations is a trait that only the best professionals have, and it is certainly an invaluable asset in the medical field, especially for those working in an emergency room. Kamey Jolly, a registered nurse faced record numbers in terms of patient volume in the Lumberton ER during the days of the storm, yet she managed to keep calm and get the job done because she understood the severity of the situation. She recalls how tense those first few days after the storm had been. Altus Emergency Center had been the only medical facility opened at the time in the area. The influx of critical patients was non-stop; under normal circumstances, a lot of those patients would have been taken to other facilities, but being the only medical center equipped to handle emergencies available during those days, meant they would have to receive them all.
She is proud of the work that was done during those chaotic days, where the center opened its doors to anyone who needed help regardless of their financial situation.
“We completely opened our doors, there was no financial aspect of anything that was covered, we completely opened our doors, anybody who needed medical care received it”
– Kamey Jolly RN
Finding Inspiration in the Face of Devastation
Life seemed to be going well for Kelsi Strahan a registered nurse at our Lumberton ER, she recently bought a new house, and was preparing for a much needed and well-deserved vacation, but, when Harvey hit, her new home suffered substantial damaged due to flood water, her car was completely submerged and she along with her neighbors had to be evacuated on a boat. Needless to say, her vacation had to be postponed, as bad as things got for her, all she could feel was inspired by how her community banded together to help each other, and she could not have been prouder of her co-workers.
“It made me really appreciate things more and see how well the community came together and really just worked together, that is really how everyone has made it through”
– Kelsi Strahan RN
Heroes Arrived in Flocks to Save the Day
During Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, many amazing people, first responders, volunteers, local private and government organizations, churches, the military, and businesses came together, risking life and limb to help save their fellow Texans. The following is a glimpse of the many that came in flocks to help. There are so many gold-hearted souls that we cannot name them all so to all, we say, “THANK YOU!”, from all of us at Altus Emergency Centers.
We couldn’t have done it without you!