Jay Wyper splits his time between living in Santa Rosa Beach and Houston, just west of the city.
He works in the city and chose to stay for the arrival of Hurricane Harvey even though police, TV and radio stations warned everyone to prepare as the storm would negatively impact the city with flooding like it had never seen before.
The rain started on Aug. 25 and became heavy that night. It was constant through Aug. 29 with the first let up coming on Aug. 30.
For those days, Wyper could not get out as the police had streets closed due to surrounding bayous.
"The water was all around us," he said.
The water in Wyper's yard rose to halfway between the street and his house, which is higher than he has ever seen it rise. However, he never lost power.
Stores had closed on Friday and reopened on Wednesday for limited periods of time but restocking had not been done so there was not much in them, he said.
"By Friday afternoon there was not a loaf of bread or a D-battery left anywhere," he said.
Wyper was finally able to get out of his house and drive to his office 10 miles away on Aug. 31 one one of only four directions that were open.
What he saw on his drive were situations of black and white. All bayous were at flood stage. He passed areas close to bayous with huge flooding and he passed homes that looked the same as they did before the storm. The one bridge he had to cross had water up to the bridge.
On his commute back home traffic lines were long.
"We still have tremendous volumes of water from east to west," he said.
Houston is in recovery and expects a dry weekend, which will help a lot, said Wyper.
"Even though the rain has stopped (with rainfall of 36-51 inches depending on which part of town you are in) the trillions of gallons of rainfall in the western watershed that flow in bayous/streams through Houston to reach the Houston ship channel and ultimately the Gulf are the continuing story," he said. "While large areas of the city were flooded initially from rainfall, the major flooding has occurred from the bayous.
"This was exacerbated on Sunday when the two huge flood control reservoirs on the west side of Houston filled and they were forced to start releasing water to lower the risk of a levee collapse," he added. "This required release, on top of the rainfall flooding into the swollen bayous, caused a second wave of neighborhood flooding."
Wyper said the commercial centers in downtown Houston and Galleria areas survived fairly well based on experience from prior floods. Most buildings are operational with some flooded basements.
Office buildings close to the bayous suffered just like the neighborhoods and are closed with flooding.
Most of the refineries and pipelines are east of Houston along the ship channel and were shut down before the storm. Many have flood damage and this will impact gas prices for the coming weeks until that capacity is back online.
Houston was blessed by being spared the high winds normal with a hurricane, so the power companies were able to keep a high percentage of the neighborhoods and commercial sectors with power throughout the storm. This will speed recovery operations.
"The turnout from neighbors and neighboring communities and cities has been incredible," said Wyper. "The city is full of Texas and out-of-state trucks with all types of boats and volunteers rescuing people in flooded neighborhoods and helping. Police, fire and rescue volunteers from all over Texas have arrived and are allowing the exhausted local forces to get some well deserved rest. But, as with Katrina, tens of thousands of residents have lost all or large parts of their homes, furniture, clothing, and possessions and have little savings and no renters of flood insurance. They will need help."
Wyper had nothing bad to say about the city.
"The city did a good job of communicating before and through the storm. When the city told us what to expect we hit the stores and by Friday nothing was left," he said.
The last big hurricane Houston saw was Allison in 2001, but Harvey has dropped twice the total rainfall of Allison.
This is Wyper's second stint in Houston and has lived there this time since 2010. He was slated to join his wife on the Emerald Coast for Labor Day weekend, but with airports still closed, the reunion had to be delayed.