Exclusive: Tyler family nearly swept away by Houston floods

by Sasha Wilson

An East Texas family who moved to Houston is back in Tyler after being forced out of their homes by flooding from Hurricane Harvey.

They spoke exclusively to CBS 19 about their unbelievable escape.

Work took Valeri Mason and her family to the Mont Belvieu area a year and a half ago, which is east of Houston.

When the hurricane rains hit, the river near their home flooded so they went to their relatives house on higher ground. Nevertheless, the water quickly caught up with them.

Early Saturday morning, they woke up to a foot of water in the house.

“Within the hour it went from a few inches to knee deep,” Mason said.

They stepped outside and saw nothing but water. When the floods swept away neighboring RVs, they made a tough call.

“I was on my Facebook page and so many families had come up missing,” Mason said. “We were like, either we stay and we have the possibility of becoming one of those families, or we make our last attempt to get out of here.”

The families piled into 3 vehicles and formed a tight caravan behind one of the trucks, which was outfitted with a snorkel. As they drove through some areas, the water came as high as their windows and even filled their floorboards.

“A couple times were nearly got swept off the road,” Mason said. “Honestly I thought we were going to drown.”

She comforted their crying children while trying to grapple with her own fear.

“I was telling them, ‘Look, well be okay, we’ll get through this, I’m not going to let anything happen to you,’” said Mason.

She said the roads were littered with abandoned cars.

“We were really lucky to make it out because as we were passing we saw so many stalled vehicles,” she said.
Back in Tyler, Mason’s sister and brother in law heard they were headed in.

“I said, ‘Well if they’re coming up this way, bring them on,” Raymond Gerstenberger said. “We don’t have a lot of room but we have enough to put them in.”

Mason said she does not know what the extent of the damage in their home, or if her house is even still standing.

“A lot of the families live paycheck to paycheck anyway, so it’s not like they have tons of money saved up,” Gerstenberger said. “But it’s Texas, we’ll pull together and we’ll make the best of the situation at hand.”

© 2017 KYTX-TV


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