PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A family from Texas whose home was flooded by Hurricane Harvey is now living here in Pittsburgh for the time being.
“Just the roof, that’s their house,” said Jennifer Crivella as she looked through pictures of her flooded neighborhood in a suburb of Houston called Katy.
From the safety of her parents’ home in Squirrel Hill, she says what happened almost doesn’t seem real. But it was very real not that many days ago.
“We all were staying in one room, because with the tornado warnings, they want you to shelter in place,” said Crivella.
But once the flooding started, she and her husband, Eric, their 6-year-old daughter Sydney, their 11-year-old son Tyler and the family dog all moved to the second-floor of their home.
“I never thought our house would flood,” said Crivella.
But with four feet of water outside, it became clear that they needed to get out.
“The water is filled with snakes and sewage and things like that and you start thinking, ‘How am I going to get my family out of this house safely?'” she said.
They did what they could to get the attention of a rescue boat: “We were hanging out the window with a pillowcase to try to get a boat to stop and get us out of the neighborhood,” Crivella said.
Their plan worked, and soon the Crivellas climbed onboard a rescue boat for their ride to safety.
Crivella said, “My main concern was my children. I was in shock. I was kind of frozen.”
Each of them left with just a backpack of belongings. They stayed with friends until they were able to get a flight to Pittsburgh.
Both Jennifer and Eric grew up in the Pittsburgh area, but Eric stayed behind in Houston to help begin the process of cleaning up their home.
The kids have started school in Pittsburgh, and the family expects to be here months as work is done back home in Houston.
Jennifer Crivella says damage in communities there is very widespread.
“It’s a hundred times worse than whatever you see on TV,” she said.
And more than anything, she says the generosity of others has been amazing. Everyone who has stepped up to help has touched their hearts.
“It kind of restores your faith in humanity,” she said.
They want to thank the people who have reached out in both Pittsburgh and Houston to make a difficult time a little easier.
While they basically lost everything on the first floor of their home, she says those are just belongings. She’s most grateful that her family is safe.