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KERA's One Crisis Away project focuses on North Texans living on the financial edge.

After The Flood: Woman Who Survived Katrina, Then Harvey, Starts Over — Again

Courtney Collins
KERA news
Daphne Griffin cooks in the kitchen of her Arlington rental house. She left Beaumont ahead of the storm with her husband and five kids. They've decided to stay in North Texas.

Hurricane Harvey and the devastating rainfall that came with it displaced thousands of families; and some landed in North Texas.

Three and a half months after the storm, more than a hundred of those families have decided to stay. KERA's series One Crisis Away: After The Flood shares the journey of woman who’s been through this before — 12 years ago, after Hurricane Katrina.

With five kids, Daphne Griffin says she's always cooking, and constantly cranking through piles of laundry. Those are two truths she can set her watch by, certainties she can count on.

One thing she never imagined was evacuating Beaumont ahead of Hurricane Harvey-- and not moving back. Especially since she did the same thing in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina destroyed her home in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

"It was very terrifying. Imagine just water everywhere, and you're trying to pull a disabled person out of a home," she said.

Looking back

As Katrina whipped across southern Louisiana, a tree crashed through the house, temporarily trapping Griffin and her then-husband, inside. He was confined to a wheelchair, which was too wide for the only door they could use to get out.

"So I had to actually get a twin size bed mattress and lay him on it and pull him out the door," she said.

They made it to safety and Griffin says after four months in a shelter, moved into an apartment. Six months later, she decided to leave Louisiana and relocate to Beaumont-- where her parents live. Griffin lived her life, starting a family and building a catering business. She met someone new and got re-married.

Fast forward 12 years, and Griffin didn't like what she was hearing about a storm named Harvey gaining strength in the Gulf.

"Then it said that Houston was going to get just the rain. And then I'm like, well Houston is just an hour away from us and rain is the worst part, so let's go,'" she said.

Hitting the road

Griffin, her husband, her five children and her parents hurriedly packed up and fled to a Dallas shelter, ahead of the storm. They didn't bring much, just some clothes and some baby gear. Griffin figured things would be back to normal and she'd be back in Beaumont in less than a week. She was wrong. 

Find out how the storm changed Griffin's life and learn more about her decision to re-settle in North Texas here.

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.