Southern New Englanders in Texas feel ‘devastating’ effects of Harvey

SPRING, Texas (WPRI) — A Fall River native living in Texas said floodwaters from Harvey were nearing her home Tuesday morning as rain continues to fall.

Gloria Bessette, who now lives in Spring, Texas, said she’s seen her neighbors escape on boats since the storm hit. If water starts coming in her home, Bessette said she and her roommate are prepared to move up to the second floor.

“It’s been horrible, it’s been devastating,” Bessette said. “It’s receded a little bit, which is a blessing as far as we’re concerned.”

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Although thousands of Texans have been displaced from their homes, Bessette and her roommate said they decided not to evacuate, in part because they have 13 cats, including five kittens rescued during the storm.

“We foster cats, so we want to make sure that any animal that needs to be rescued or needs a place to stay, that there’s a safe haven for them at this point.”

South of Houston in Missouri City, Cumberland native Meg Ruffing says her family is in a mandatory evacuation zone, but they’ve made the tough choice to stay put.

“I didn’t want to get into a situation on the road where I’m facing high water with my children and my pets and I’m stuck in a small SUV, Ruffing told Eyewitness News in an interview Tuesday. She said her home is at a slightly higher elevation, and she is closely watching water levels at a nearby levee.

“If we had an emergency here, we’re not guaranteed emergency services,” Ruffing acknowledged. She said her family–which includes two young daughters–has a detailed evacuation plan that includes breaking down the back fence and traveling uphill to where the family car is parked on higher ground.

“It’s not ideal,” Ruffing said. “But it’s the best plan we can come up with. We’ve inflated air mattresses to float our kids out of here if need be.”

Thousands of people in Texas have fled their homes, leading officials to open “mega-shelters” that are already overcrowding.

“Never in my life have I even seen – whether it be the blizzard up in New England, the Blizzard of ’78 – there’s never been anything that I’ve ever seen, water-wise,” Bessette said.

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