Sigma Phi Delta brothers in Texas continue to be impacted by the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. Joseph “U/No” Jordan ’17 of Beta Gamma Chapter shares his heartbreaking story, including how his family was evacuated, how their personal belongings were destroyed, and how his wife’s family suffered not one but two deaths in the storm’s aftermath. He thanks his SPD brothers for coming to his family’s aid at a time they needed it most.

I have lived through numerous hurricanes and tropical storms in 20+ years living in southeast Texas. As a kid growing up, you never truly understand how hard it is to survive devastation like this. While many lost everything, some lost so much more. Our family lost more than we expected even after Harvey was done.

We were evacuated before we even had any water came in to our house. After two days of no electricity, we thought it would be ending soon, but it just kept on coming down. The bayou near our house was starting to rise, but our house was supposed to be high enough it would not affect us.

We woke up on day three to our neighbors across the street asking if they could park their cars in our neighbor’s driveway because there house was flooded. They had already four feet of water, and it was still rising. We looked out, and realized we are stuck. The road in front of the house was covered with three to four feet of water. Our landlord called us and said that we were fine, that it will crest soon and shouldn’t get any water in the house. By noon, the water was halfway up the driveway, slowly creeping up on us. At five o’clock, our landlord called to let me know we had to evacuate. The National Guard was going to be there soon to get us out. He gave us permission to cut down the fence in the backyard and try and get our cars to higher ground.  Within an hour, the National Guard was knocking on our door ready to help us get out via boat. Luckily, we were able to cut the fence and drive over to the next street. But our problems were still not over.

The road going to the highway was covered in four to five feet of water. Only 18 wheelers and military vehicles were getting through. My wife, two kids age 13 and 11, and my mother-in-law rode in the military vehicle through the water. I followed in our SUV praying that we could at least save one vehicle, while my other car was left behind hopefully high enough. It was dark and scary, but I made it through with our animals as company. Once we got to the highway, our only place to go was a co-worker’s apartment that had no power and no water. But we survived without any issues, or so we thought

My wife’s mother went to a shelter with her husband, because their house was starting to flood too. My wife and I wanted to see how much the water had risen at our house and walked through three to four feet of water, actually seeing an alligator in the water. We made it to our house and saw two feet of water inside. We moved more things up and hoped this was all we were going to see. We decided to leave Beaumont while we could, and a friend said we could stay with them in Florida. We made it out of Beaumont one hour before they closed the highways in and out due to water over the road.

After three days away, we came back the morning that they opened up the highways back in to Texas. We still couldn’t get back to our house, but we got a hotel in Louisiana from FEMA and traveled back and forth once we could start clearing out our house. We had over four feet of water. My car that we left behind was flooded up the windows, and everything we hoped to save, wasn’t high enough. Our bookshelves collapsed, our TV stand warped. The furniture was everywhere it was not supposed to be. The smell was horrible, like death and sewage. Every photo, keepsake, and memorabilia was ruined. How can one storm destroy 14 years of life?

Our landlord was nice and said not to worry about our rent this month and once we cleared out our stuff we would get back our deposit. This was great, but where were we going to live? We had some money saved up to buy a house, but not enough. We had to use that to find a new place to live. We also had to start clearing out our house. My kids helped as much as can be expected, but we needed real help. Luckily, five Brothers of Beta Gamma came to help. Without Josh, Archie, Aaron, Sean, and Jonny, we would not have been able to get it done.

Fortunately, we found a place to stay; even though it was more expensive, it was the only place I could find. It took almost two weeks to get a rental car for my totaled car. Once we got moved in, I thought the worst was behind us. The day we picked up the rental car, my wife’s SUV started having electrical issues. It is still in the shop as of October 18th, waiting for parts from South Korea. Luckily, we had the rental and I was able to purchase a new car before we turned the rental in.

In late September, my wife’s grandmother started having breathing issues. Their house was flooded too, and now she had pneumonia. They eventually sent her to a hospice where she passed away on October 1. My wife’s mother was so devastated by the news that it caused her health to get worse, and she passed away on October 9. Both of them loved me as a real family member, not as an in-law. Hurricane Harvey took a lot of things from us, both possessions and family members. We lost over $8,000 in furniture, electronics, clothes, and tools and we have replaced only a small amount of it. FEMA still has not completed our application, and luckily I have a job with a company that worked with their employees, allowing them to take time off, time to get professional clothes, and time to get our lives back in order.  I know in time, this will be just a faint memory, but until then, we are reminded every day what we lost.

Click here to watch Jordan’s video of the devastation.

Click here to help brothers like Jordan whose lives were impacted by the recent hurricanes.

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