Alumnus experiences Hurricane Harvey up close, stresses help needed for many

Hurricane HarveyHurricane Harvey, the most powerful storm to hit the mainland United States in more than a decade, was experienced up close by Kennesaw State University alumnus Tim Goldsack ’07, who lives in Katy, Texas, a western suburb of Houston.

When talking to Goldsack the afternoon of Aug. 31, he seemed busy assisting neighbors and others in the area that were hurt by Harvey.

“I’ve spent most of the day trying to help out people around here, first the neighborhood and then the neighborhoods next to us where there is some real damage,” said Goldsack, who earned a Bachelor of Science in English education from Kennesaw State.

By that last day of August, Goldsack said that conditions were improving around Houston, but there is still a lot of destruction and much work to do.

“It kind of depends where you’re at,” Goldsack said when asked about the locations most seriously affected by Harvey. “The water has really receded in most places. We’re just hoping that we don’t get much rain in the next few weeks or this could be a continued problem.

“There are going to be places in Houston, in Katy and the surrounding areas that it could take a month until the water recedes enough that people can get back in these houses and see the true damage. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the ones that are going to be underwater for a month.”

Goldsack has been in the Houston area for more than six years, first living downtown before moving to his present location last December. He resides in Katy with his wife, Jessica, and their twin sons, Ender and Everett, who were born in March. Goldsack works in market development for a petrochemical company.

With weather forecasts showing that the hurricane was heading toward the Houston area, Goldsack prepared to protect his family and their belongings.

“When we knew it was coming, I went out and got the sand bags and I was going to build basically a trench, because I thought my backyard would be the issue,” Goldsack said. “We put things and a lot of furniture on bricks.

“When you live in Houston, you always know that there’s a chance for a flood. Usually it’s just rain and not a hurricane, so you’re somewhat always prepared for it.”

The worst of the storm hit on Aug. 27, causing a tremendous amount of damage in Houston and the surrounding areas.

“We thought we were kind of out of it but then on Sunday (Aug. 27), they said it was going to get worse instead of better,” Goldsack said. “We still didn’t think it was going to be that bad, even up to hours beforehand, but Sunday night it came. In about an hour-and-a-half, it went from where you could see the road in front of my house to where water was half-way up my yard and there was no road anymore. By 2 a.m., it (the water) was hitting all of the sand bags, it was in our garage and there was just a lake between us and the houses across from me.

“We were doing everything we could. We put everything upstairs we possibly could and we just braced.”

That Sunday evening into Monday morning was when Harvey caused most of its destruction, which will affect residents and businesses around the Houston area for quite some time. Goldsack stressed that help is needed now and for many weeks to come.

“People think this is over but we could use all the help we can get right now,” Goldsack said. “From what I’ve seen from Katy and Houston, the amount of volunteers is unbelievable. What I’ve done this week is basically take the first four hours of the day to help other houses, but next week I go back to work and everybody else goes back to work, and now all of a sudden there won’t be this glut of volunteers and there will still be a bunch of houses underwater. So, if someone can donate time, that’s first and foremost.

“Secondly, there’s just a giant need for things like clothing. Some people have lost everything.”

Many items are needed, according to Goldsack, including food, toiletries and cleaning supplies, among others.

“Anything people can give to the food bank, whether it’s money or sending food, that is 100 percent going to be going to the people who are affected,” Goldsack said.

Other reputable charitable organizations are also giving all of their proceeds to those most hurt by Harvey. Goldsack mentioned a couple of them.

“There’s one that the mayor of Houston put out – they say 100 percent is going to go straight back to the city of Houston – that’s a very good one,” he said. “J.J. Watt has one that he’s promising every cent put in is going to go back to Houston and surrounding communities.”

Hurricane HarveyHouston Mayor Sylvester Turner established the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund through the Greater Houston Community Foundation while Watt, a star member of the Houston Texans of the National Football League, set up a Houston Flood Relief Fund through his Justin J. Watt Foundation.

By the afternoon of Sept. 19, the mayor’s fund had raised almost $61 million while Watt’s organization completed fundraising on Sept. 15 at more than $37 million.

“I’ve been through a lot of this stuff, not a hurricane per se but flooding when different times people have come together, but I’ve never seen people come together like Texas people come together,” Goldsack concluded. “Even people who were affected went out to volunteer and it’s been unbelievable. The people who came in with boats to save just random people, they were so efficient and saved lives. I can’t say enough about them.”