HOUSTON: Ric Saldivar, 53, has a large family – many brothers, scattered throughout eastern Houston and beyond.
After the floods that failed them in their respective homes, a chain of telephone calls between the brothers and their wives informed Saldivar that suddenly his family could be much smaller. Here’s what he learned:
His mother and father, both in the 1980s, were missing and suspected dead, he told The Washington Post. So four young parents, ages 6 to 16 – all trapped in a van that was running while they were trying to get home through the Sunday floods.
His parents, Manuel and Belia, lived about 10 miles away, he said – through a swamp in northeastern Houston.
“They both have Alzheimer’s disease,” he said. Her brother Sammy had recently moved to Missouri to look after the couple. “I was doing a good job,” said Ric Saldivar.
Sammy, 56, had tried to prepare for the storm. He had resolved to stay awake all night on Saturday, watching the waters rise from Halls Bayou a few blocks away, ready to flee at all times. But he fell asleep.
The neighbors woke him up, “Ric said. They said the water was coming. “Several family members lived in this pocket of Houston floods Danny Saldivar and his wife lived in a street of their parents.
Danny’s daughter was still living on another street, but she had left that night, leaving her 16-year-old son to see her three younger children. “The children were dead,” Ric said.
While Danny and his wife were making their own plans to escape, he said to Sammy: Take the keys, pick up the van and take them to Ric’s house.
Sammy loaded his parents into Danny’s van. She carried the children in the back – Devy and Dominic, both in their teens, and Xavier of 8 and her six-year-old sister, Daisy settled in torrential rain Sunday afternoon.
The bridge over the Green River Drive swamp was covered with water, but the surveillance rails pecked at the peaks, so it did not look too deep.
“Sammy said,” Well, maybe I should go back, “Ric said. Dad said, “No, you can cross.” Sammy has always listened to her father.
The truck crossed the bridge. But the road was heavily excavated on the other side, and before Sammy did anything, the van was floating.
He leaned to the left and to the right. Sammy pressed the gas, but the wheels simply went underwater.
“He panicked,” Ric said. “He left the place without even undoing the seat belt, and tightened by the window.”
Sammy clung to a tree branch in the water and tried to open the doors. But the doors did not open. The kids were behind, behind a storage cage, and there was no way to get there.
“I was screaming the kids coming out of the back of the truck, I’m sure they could not reach it,” Ric said. “I could hear the children shouting, but I could not open the doors, and that’s what I still hear in my head, and the truck sank under the water and left.”
Sammy clung to that branch for a good hour, screaming and screaming – until finally someone came and threw a rope.
The dead have not yet been confirmed by the authorities. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said Monday night on Twitter that MPs had rescued a man from the flood waters at Greens Bayou in East Houston.
The man told the deputies that his van – carrying six members of his family – was submerged in torrid waters, but authorities did not find the vehicle.
Harris County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jason Spencer told the Washington Post on Tuesday that no bodies had been recovered.
Sammy ended up in a shelter, where he borrowed a phone and called Danny. Danny told his wife, who was named Ric, who has been calling the others since.
“We’re all separated,” Ric said. His home in East Houston is quite dry. He would have been sure Sammy had caught up with him, but now Ric can not go to Sammy or anyone else.
“The news just says stay home,” he said. He tried to plan the funeral for his parents. Not sure how someone will pay to bury children.
The Pasadena Independent School District said in a statement Monday it had learned that “four students from Pasadena ISD and two of their great-grandparents were swept by the flood waters of the Bayou Greens trying to escape from the Harvey Waters” .