Two years later: Hurricane Harvey victims share stories of that fateful week


Fannett, Texas (KETK)–Two years ago Southeast Texas heard a storm was brewing in the gulf.

To folks in Fannett, Texas it was time to prepare for another hurricane like they had done in the past.

Many had their first experience with a major storm in 2005 with hurricane Rita.

“It was kind of a double-whammy,” said Judge Ray Chesson, Jefferson County Justice of the Peace Precinct 4. “I lost my courthouse and my house was right across the street so I lost my house and my courthouse.”

“We got in the line and drove for 23 hours, at 15 miles per hour, with a Boston terrier running back and forth the whole time,” said Gary Brice, Beaumont resident and Lamar University professor. “We evacuated for two weeks and when we came back Beaumont was a different place.”

Then three years later, the same thing happened again for hurricane Ike and some elected to stay home and ride out the major storm.

“You can just hear the wind howling and the trees swaying and limbs breaking and hoping and praying the whole time that nothing came through our roof,” said Scooter Wenner, Fannett resident and pastor of First Baptist Church of Fannett.

“In Ike we sent the family away early, before everybody else left, and me and my Boston (terrier) stayed for Ike,” said Brice. “I tell you what, that was one scary experience, neither one of us slept through the night when Ike was going over. I was wondering if the house was going to hold up.”

But despite all the destruction and mayhem it was nothing compared to what would hit them nearly a decade later.

At first many ignored the danger, given Harvey’s relatively small size and strength

“People were saying ‘it’s just going to be a little rain, it’s not even hurricane, not even a category one’, who could have guess five feet of rain was going to fall on Nederland,” said Brice.

As the water’s rose, Scooter Wenner opened his church for those who were flooded out of their homes.

“The thing that I remember most about Harvey was those two or three nights we stayed there,” said Wenner. “Laying there at night wondering if it’s ever, ever going to stop.”

Eventually the rain did let up, and when the sun came out it shone on a town no one could recognize.

“I had three feet of water in my house, I lost all but one vehicle,” said Judge Chesson. “Everything I owned it’s gone, anything below cabinet level in my home is gone.”

But despite this loss there was work to be done.

Judge Chesson’s sons contacted their duck hunting friend and just like the flood waters, they too poured in.

“There were guys with boats lined up as far as you could see there in Hamshire,” said Judge Chesson. “A lot of them couldn’t get there in trucks so they unloaded their boats here in Fannett, went down the highway five miles, I mean the highway was under water, and they came five miles with their surface drives, airboats, whatever and those guys made over 500 rescues. Now these guys are duck hunters, they’re not medics or firemen or anything else, they made 500 rescues and no incidents so that’s pretty amazing.”

And the rest is history.

Today, no matter the size of the storm Southeast Texans have a different outlook when a storm is brewing in the gulf.

“Don’t get too confident, hubris is nothing that needs to be employed in the eye of an approaching hurricane,” said Brice.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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