Families in Texas had every reason to be anxious about their homes when the media broadcast warnings about Hurricane Harvey. In August 2017 the exceptionally violent Category Four storm was fast approaching the state’s Gulf Coast. And one of the families threatened by the storm were the Sochas, who live near Houston. More on them later.
The strength of Hurricane Harvey meant that it was liable to cause extensive damage to property. And that wasn’t all. The torrential rain that the storm could bring was highly likely to lead to severe flooding – and such a deluge had the potential to destroy homes in which people had invested years of hard work.
Harvey had already exacted a toll on lives and property as it passed through the Caribbean and South America. There had been damage to homes on the islands of Barbados and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, for instance. Guyana and Suriname saw their share of hurricane devastation, too, with a Guyanese woman having been killed when her house was destroyed by the storm.
But even with the damage to buildings and the tragic loss of life, the Caribbean and South America got off relatively lightly during the passage of Hurricane Harvey. That is, compared to what was soon to hit Texas and other parts of the southern U.S.
At first, though, Harvey actually began to weaken as it headed northwest towards land. However, this false dawn was rapidly reversed from August 24 when the hurricane began to gather strength again. Harvey then became a Category Four storm on August 25 – Category Four being the second highest grade of storm, with winds as high as 156 mph.
The threat levels posed by Harvey subsequently continued to increase as it reached the Texan Gulf Coast and hit San José Island, some 155 miles southwest of Houston. And while the storm actually began to abate somewhat as it made landfall, it nevertheless brought an extremely heavy and extended downpour of rain.
Texas was to bear the brunt of Harvey on the mainland, although Louisiana would also suffer major disruption. In Texas around 336,000 people suffered loss of power, 9,000 homes were utterly wrecked and over 185,000 properties were affected with varying degrees of severity. Shockingly, 103 deaths in the state were also attributed to the effects of the storm.
In fact, Harvey was one of the most destructive weather events ever to hit the U.S. According to an estimate from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the total bill for the damage caused was a staggering $125 billion. That makes Harvey one of the costliest hurricanes in history – with its impact easily comparable to the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina.
Meanwhile, the rain experienced across Texas during Harvey was of epic proportions. Many parts of Houston and the surrounding districts experienced rainfall of some 30 inches; in the city of Nederland, however, experts recorded an astonishing 60 inches of precipitation. Harvey was now officially the wettest storm ever to hit the state – and, in fact, the entire U.S.
And it was this rain that the Socha family, whom we met earlier, feared the most. Just the previous year, they’d suffered a deluge at their home in Rosenberg, about a 45-minute drive from downtown Houston. That flooding had cost the family a wallet-busting $150,000.
A regular family, the Sochas are Jennifer and Randy and their three boys. They live in a handsome home surrounded by a spacious yard not far from the Brazos River in Rosenberg. As for the parents’ occupations, Randy has run his own fencing business since 1998; Jennifer, meanwhile, works as an accountant for Occidental Petroleum.
But back to the disaster that the Sochas were facing. Thanks to the huge volume of extra water that had fallen from the skies, the Brazos River was now about to burst its banks. This left dozens of homes under threat in Fort Bend County – where the Sochas’ property is located.
Randy and Jennifer therefore reckoned that they needed to act quickly if they were to avoid disaster. But what could they do to protect their cherished home? It’s not as if you can pick up and move your house at a moment’s notice to avoid flooding, after all. Eventually, though, the resourceful couple hit upon a possible answer to their problem.
And that answer was to employ an AquaDam – a product that cleverly uses water to stop water. You see, the AquaDam is basically a large, water-filled expandable tube. The flexible cylinder, which can be extended to virtually any length and made into a 360-degree loop, can then act as a barrier against floodwaters.
And the really smart thing about the AquaDam is that you use floodwaters to fill it. As water approaches your property, you pump it into the dam. Then, once the structure is filled, you pump water out and over the dam, while it stops any further flooding from approaching your house.
So, to give their home sufficient protection from the floodwaters, the Sochas needed a structure of approximately three feet high and 380 feet long. And that wasn’t going to come cheap. In fact, the cost of the couple’s AquaDam was a substantial $18,000. But compare this to the $150,000 worth of damage that the Sochas had suffered the year before, and suddenly it actually looks like a pretty decent deal.
Jennifer and Randy therefore put in their AquaDam order. And, fortunately, the house-saving structure was sent out to the pair within a matter of hours. The dam delivered to the Sochas had, by the way, previously been used in El Campo, Texas, by rice farmers.
Then, once the Sochas had put their mobile dam in place, the contraption did an impressive job of saving their home from the deluge of water that had appeared thanks to Harvey. But it wasn’t just a case of sitting back and watching while the dam did all the work.
Indeed, the Sochas had to put all hands to the pumps for four straight days. All that work certainly paid off, though, since their home stayed dry. As a consequence, then, some quick thinking – Randy had actually found AquaDam by searching online – had saved the family home from a second disaster within two years. It certainly made the $18,000 that Randy and Jennifer had spent look like an excellent investment.
And the Sochas were well aware that many Texans had not been able to save their properties in the way that they had. Speaking to Houston’s KPRC, Randy commiserated with the flood victims. “I feel bad for the people who didn’t have flood insurance who lost everything. My heart goes out to them, truly,” he said.