Lowestoft man stranded in Houston hospital tells of hurricane experience
- Credit: Archant
The disturbing images showing its impact have been dominating our television screens.
Hurricane Harvey has been tearing across parts of the United States with unrelenting ferocity, causing mass flooding and affecting the lives of millions.
And one of those caught up in the turmoil is James Walpole, a Lowestoft man and former Bird's Eye engineer who has lived in Houston, Texas for seven years.
Houston is the city to have been worst hit by the flooding and, on Thursday, August 24, the 43-year-old found himself stranded at the hospital where he works, unable to reach his family who were themselves stranded at home, after the neighbourhood was overwhelmed by several million gallons of rainfall.
'At home the water was up to the doors, and I couldn't get there due to the sheer amount of water on the roads,' said Mr Walpole.
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'Some of this really does look like something from a disaster movie and many local communities are going to be affected for months to come.'
With Mr Walpole marooned in the hospital, his wife Tracy, son Luca, and step-daughter Eva were forced to leave their house on Monday, August 28, after an evacuation order.
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Initially the family was headed to a Red Cross shelter, until a friend reached out and offered to take them in.
'The crazy thing is that they went to a suburb just a couple of miles from the worst of the flooding, but they barely had any rain,' added Mr Walpole.
'They were fortunate to be in that sweet spot where the edge of the hurricane just missed them.
'I've thankfully been able to stay in contact with my family because we have huge portable phone chargers to be used in situations like this.'
Although the scale of destruction caused by Hurricane Harvey is virtually unprecedented in Texas, Mr Walpole emphasised preparation procedures were key in preventing the state from experiencing further devastation.
'The unfortunate truth is that we're in an area where we expect these disasters,' he said.
'In seven years this is the first hurricane I've experienced, but luckily we're always prepared for this sort of thing.
'At the hospital we're good for 96 hours without power because of huge generators.'
Fifteen-year-old Luca, who still lives in Lowestoft and attends Pakefield High School, has spent the summer visiting his family.
'His flight back to the UK was last week but it was postponed,' added Mr Walpole.
'He'll have a hell of a story to tell when he goes back to school!'