Dr. Kimberly Kindt is an optometrist who serves our Fort Wayne and Auburn communities with not only eye care, but a passion to help others. Her passion recently took her beyond the communities she knows so well to Houston, Texas, a city that has been devastated by flooding, a community that has lost, and a neighborhood that is still in the beginning stages of rebuilding.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas on August 25th, 2017, as a Category 4 hurricane. It threatened millions of residents with downpours, a huge storm surge that devastated coastal areas and 130-mph winds. By the time the winds calmed, the storm had dumped a year’s worth of rain in less than a week on Houston and other nearby areas of Texas. Before disappearing, Hurricane Harvey sent major flooding to parts of eastern Texas, Louisiana, and southern Arkansas, as well as abnormally high rainfall in Tennessee and Kentucky. Around 13 million people were affected, nearly 135,000 homes damaged or destroyed and up to a million cars wrecked. The official death toll is 82 (worldvision.org).
Dr. Kindt traveled to an area of Houston that was historically a flood lake. However, over time, the records of this fact were lost and a housing complex was built. The residents of these new, extravagant homes were assured that they would not need flood insurance. This complex has since been known for being a safe place to raise a family. When the hurricane was in its beginning stages, warnings went out to homes in this area about the possibility of needing to release the dam. Families were reassured that they would receive plenty of notice in order to ensure a safe evacuation. However, the hurricane took a turn for the worse and a quick decision was made to release the dam in the middle of the night when residents were sleeping.
At that time, they didn’t understand that the housing complex was the immediate route for all of the water leaving the newly released dam. Water rushed in and homes were flooded with six feet of water in just moments. Unfortunately, some residents sleeping on the first levels did not make it. It was a scene of utter chaos and life threatening flooding that was shown on national news channels. Emergency vehicles couldn’t reach residents and a family failed to reach the outside road safely, resulting in nine deaths.
Dr. Kindt and her mission team worked with a family in the complex. As they drove into the area, it was a ghost town with empty houses stripped down to their bones. The only people in sight were contractors filling the streets. Her team soon learned that houses marked with red x’s indicated lost lives and the family they were helping didn’t have enough funds to hire contractors. Without flood insurance, they were left with nothing. One of the home owners came back to the house for the first time since the flooding while the mission team was there. It was an extremely emotional time so Dr. Kindt lightened the mood by speaking with her about her daughter’s wedding and how her dress made it through the flooding.
“Families that once had everything were left with only the clothing on their backs. No insurance because they were assured they were in a flood free zone when in fact they had secretly been living in an old flood lake for years. No one to sue because they have yet to discover when and where the records were lost along the way. They simply have to start at square one to begin rebuilding their lives. I received a tearful hug from the homeowner. She said to me ‘thank you for not forgetting Houston.’ It was a life changing trip.” – Dr. Kimberly Kindt