HOUSTON, TEXAS —
While floodwaters are still high in some Houston neighborhoods near reservoirs, water is receding in other parts of the city.
As those roads become passable again, people who were trapped at home by Hurricane Harvey are starting to venture out in search of gas and groceries. What they are finding depends on where they live.
In a largely immigrant neighborhood in southwest Houston, the Chinese grocery store named Welcome has taken on new meaning after the storm and flooding devastated Houston, the nation’s fourth most populous city.
WATCH: Houston Residents Search for Groceries and Gas
“It’s my first time out and saw that a lot of roads are passable again,” Chinese-American Shirley Fu said.
Welcome was closed for one day during the worst of the storm. Its shipments of food from California and New York have been able to find a clear route through the flood devastation.
We “did not expect the hurricane would be so bad. Many of the customers need a lot of items,” Robert Lin, Welcome’s manager, said. “Many American grocery stores are not open.”
Almost a week after Hurricane Harvey first hit Houston, Lin said items such as eggs and fresh produce are in high demand.
Neighbors frequent the store
It’s not just Chinese-Americans who are shopping at Welcome.
The storm meant Sarita Sapkota from Nepal was confined to her home for three days.
“We could not go to work and all the daily activities were canceled,” she said.
Sapkota said Friday was the first time she and her husband were able to get out after the flood.
George Kollie, originally from Liberia, has lived in Houston for more than 22 years. He also frequents the Chinese grocery store.
“We decided to come to the Asian store to get some fish and get some potato grain (flour). We eat a lot of food that Asians eat, so we always come to shop here,” Kollie said.
He said his family was one of the lucky ones.
“I know further down (from my home) there were houses that were destroyed from the storm, and water went into people’s houses, but mine was safe,” he said.
Gas shortages appear
By Friday, there were still areas of Houston that flooding had cut off, making roads impassable and leading to shortages in gasoline. The problem has been made worse by people filling up because of reports of rising gas prices.
People fearing their drinking water may become polluted are also going to grocery stores and stocking up on bottled water. Residents also said several grocery stores had empty bread shelves.
Worst seems over
For those who live near the area of southwest Houston commonly known as Chinatown, people are finding what they need. This part of the city was spared the worst of the hurricane.
“I’m really happy nothing has happened to Chinatown, and everyone, Asians can come out and shop,” Fu said.
“I think things are becoming ... normal, and this is what we’re all praying for so life can come back. We love Houston. We are Houstonians,” Kollie said.
Many Houstonians said they need some sense of normalcy after surviving such a traumatic natural disaster, but it will take weeks and even months before the city is truly back to normal.