HARVEY: OOIDA members cope with the impact of the storm

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | Monday, August 28, 2017

All Narcisco Aleman Jr., can do is wait and see.

The 47-year-old OOIDA member from Montgomery, Texas, is waiting to learn the extent of the damage to a house he owns in Houston, as well as his two trucks that are parked in Houston.

“I lost everything in my home in Houston,” he said. “I don’t know if my trucks are damaged or not. Once the rain is stopped and the streets are cleared up, we’ll be able to assess the damages. As for now, everything is at a stalemate.”

Hurricane Harvey ripped through Texas over the weekend as wind gusts reached 132 mph. According to multiple reports, more than 24 inches of rain fell on Houston during the past two days. Some meteorologists are predicting that areas of southeastern Texas will accumulate as much as 50 inches of rain by Wednesday.

The Category 4 hurricane is reportedly the strongest storm to hit Texas since the 1960s. There have been at least five fatalities, The Weather Channel reported on Monday morning. Thousands of people have been rescued from floodwaters.

Bobby J. Mitchell, an OOIDA member from Houston, has been off the road since Thursday. Based on the forecast, it will probably be about a week until Mitchell’s God’s Great Opportunity Delivery Service will be able to get back to its business of hauling general freight.

“I’m home safe, but I can’t go anywhere. Most of the roads are blocked,” the 47-year-old owner-operator with three trucks said on Monday morning. “You can’t even get to your trucks. You’d be taking a risk trying to get out to your car, and then you could potentially get stuck somewhere.

“It affects you as a business, but that isn’t what you worry about,” Mitchell said. “That isn’t the most important thing. I’d rather go without work for a week and make sure that everyone is OK.”

Danny Schnautz, an OOIDA senior member and operations manager of Clark Freight Lines, said on Monday that the Pasadena, Texas, office was open but that it is operating with half the staff and only half of its trucks running.

“There is local work,” he said, “But none of it is moving because there are just no roads available to run on.”

Robert Ratliff, an OOIDA member and director of a mobile museum called History Fanatics, expects to be stuck at home for a while.

“There’s no way to get out from where I’m at,” the Houston resident said. “I’ve been hunkered down since Thursday. We have an event on Saturday, but I don’t foresee that happening.”

For now, Ratliff is hoping many of the museum’s antique vehicles remain unharmed. The area where the vehicles are at has flooding on all four sides, he said.

Ratliff also said that it would have been impossible for everyone to evacuate the Houston area safely.

“There have been a lot of folks saying that we should have all evacuated. But there are millions of people in Houston and the surrounding areas. If you try to move that many people, you’re going to have problems. We learned that from Hurricane Rita. When you receive as much rain as we did, there’s no preparation for that.”

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