The Good Stuff: Flooded with hope

Flooded with Hope: ArkLaTexans help hurricane victims through Rita, Ike and now Harvey and Imelda

(KSLA) — The menu sign in the lobby of Republic Chicken in Beaumont, Texas, still reads, “Wednesday - Filet Mignon”, the day’s special on Sept. 18, the last day the restaurant was opened as Tropical Storm Imelda came ashore.

“It’s just another obstacle we have to overcome,” owner John Swift says after explaining how early the next morning he found 3 to 7 inches of rainwater inside the restaurant.

The Swifts’ restaurant was not the only property to take on water during the hours and hours of rain that fell upon southeast Texas a week ago.

“It was like a bad dream,” remarked John’s wife, Suzanne, explaining what it was like watching rainwater creeping into their home for the second time in two years.

The first time was in August 2017, when Hurricane Harvey came ashore.

The Swift family home near Beaumont, Texas after Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
The Swift family home near Beaumont, Texas after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. (Source: Swift family)

While repairs were being made over the past two years, the Swifts rented another home.

“We got 58 inches of rain in 48 hours,” John said.

The rains from Harvey flooded a bayou near their neighborhood, sending massive amounts of water into their home, ruining most everything on the first floor.

But beyond being forced out of their home, not having access to needed goods became a major issue for many across southeast Texas because of stores either closed or underwater.

“You have no access to stuff,” John said.

The Swifts and many of the residents of their Pinewood Estates subdivision were recipients of donations gathered during a KSLA Cares Hurricane Harvey Relief Drive held in the days after the hurricane coming ashore.

“Two years ago here in the KSLA parking lot, we didn’t realize it would take two years to get back in homes in southeast Texas,” remarks John and Suzanne’s daughter, Lauren, who lives in Shreveport.

Lauren Swift-Holland at college graduation with parents Suzanne and John Swift
Lauren Swift-Holland at college graduation with parents Suzanne and John Swift (Source: Swift family)

“Those supplies, shampoo and toilet paper are still being used,” she continued.

Republic Chicken reopened one week after closing due to Imelda's rains.

And now, thanks to the help of family, friends and even people hundreds of miles away in Shreveport, the Swifts are just two weeks from finally moving back into their home.

“You never know what a huge impact you can have,” John said. “It’s difficult knowing that I’ll never meet those who gave of themselves.”

Copyright 2019 KSLA. All rights reserved.