National

'Surrounded:' What it's like in Houston

Authorities have called flooding in wake of Harvey 'unprecedented'

Sarah Hurwitz -

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) -- Jose Castillo and his family are trapped in their Houston-area home, surrounded by floodwaters in the wake of powerful tropical storm Harvey.

"We're surrounded like a castle surrounded by a moat," he said, describing what he saw when he looked out his window.

He spoke with 24 Hour News 8 over the phone Sunday afternoon as his brother Jesus Castillo, who lives in Grand Rapids, sat in on the conversation.

"I'm worried about them. I love you," Jesus Castillo said to his brother over the phone.

"Why, thank you. We love you, too," Jose Castillo replied.

Jesus Castillo left Texas to move to Michigan, but said his entire family is still there.

"They have to go outside to the power box and turn it off because the water is reaching the sockets in the house," he said of the dangerous lengths his family has to go to in the midst of the flooding. "I have to keep calm. I'm a single dad with my two boys trying to raise them here. I got health problems myself, so all I can do is pray."

Jose Castillo, who uses a wheelchair, and his family are among thousands who are caught in the constant rain and flooding as Harvey -- which was a Category 4 when it slammed into the Gulf Coast -- continues to pummel the region.

"The rain was on and off but around 3 o'clock, 4 o'clock this morning, the rain band really started hitting us hard and it started flooding really bad," Jose Castillo said.

Some people have fled to their roofs to avoid the rising water and wave down rescuers. It was a red flag to Jesus Castillo that Harvey is different -- he said locals have ridden out storms in the past.

"I'm a bit distraught, nervous, scared," Jesus Castillo said. "We've been through these floodings before. '83 was my first experience -- Hurricane Alicia. … (The water) went up to our ankles at the house."

Jesus Castillo said many wait out severe weather because they don't have the resources to leave.

"People don't understand that not everybody can evacuate. They're poor, they're old, they don't have family members that come visit them, the elderly," Jesus Castillo said.

Even though Jose Castillo and his family didn't get out, he still wanted to help others any way he could. He's a veteran volunteer with the American Red Cross and was recently awarded as a standout in the state. On Sunday afternoon, he was trying to check the computer to see if he could log on to the Red Cross website to check relief efforts.

He said even with the catastrophic flooding, there's heroism as everyone is helping each other.

"We got people here in Texas that are helping people right now with fishing boats, with monster trucks," he said. "And that's what we do. That's the way Texans work."


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