Hanni Turner, Twyla's Friends director, cleans cans salvaged from the Pet Ranch.
Photo by Susan McFarland

The staff of the City of Humble Animal Shelter was out in force during the recent flooding of the Northshire subdivision in Humble, helping evacuees and over 80 pets. Flooding in that area began around midnight on Sunday night and several volunteers with boats provided water rescues of families and their pets from the subdivision. The boat volunteers brought the evacuees to the Deerbrook Mall parking lot, where the animal shelter manned a station to provide assistance, crates and food to evacuated pets.
Shortly after evacuation, families and their pets and shelter staff were moved to higher ground at the Humble City Pool Park for several hours until the Humble Civic Center Shelter opened on Monday morning. More than 100 people dropped off pet supplies to the shelter staff during the storm.
Over the course of the hurricane and subsequent flooding, several dogs were brought into the animal shelter after becoming lost during the storm. All but four have been reunited with their owners, thanks to microchips and helpful neighbors who were able to identify lost pets and their owners. Adoptions are free at the Humble Animal Shelter and pets can be microchipped for a $10 fee.
Other area pet rescue groups were also active during the storm. Twyla’s Friends rescued two dogs who are now in temporary foster housing. Maria Langford, member of the Twyla’s Friends board of birectors, said rescue group volunteers have been helping the owner of a local pet store (and Twyla’s Friends supporter), the Pet Ranch. The store was flooded during the storm and Langford said the volunteers went to help clean out the store.
“The owners have always supported Twyla’s Friends and we wanted to help them now that they are in a dark time. When we got there, the owner told us he wanted to salvage all the cans from the huge trash pile because he wanted to help our rescue dogs. In the middle of all of his own tragedy, this man is still thinking of others and rescue pups! We are going to donate the salvageable canned food to the Forgotten Dogs of the Fifth Ward Rescue as they have a bigger need than us right now. We were able to salvage and clean about 1,700 cans for them. As soon as they are up and running, I really hope everyone gives them a lot of business,” said Langford.
Langford noted the shelters in downtown Houston are in great need of supplies such as pet food and kennels.
“We ask our followers to donate to Forgotten Dogs in the Fifth Ward as they have boots on the ground and actually have a greater need than we do at this time,” said Langford.

 

 

Before you go …

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Jesse H. Jones Park has a rich history of providing people of all ages with hiking and biking trails, a nature center with many live animals, and a walk-through, early-1800s Texas at the Redbud Hill Homestead and Akokisa Indian Village. Unfortunately, the park, and in particular the Nature Center, was significantly affected by the recent Hurricane Harvey floods.
Harris County Pct. 4 Parks Director Dennis Johnston said, “Jesse H. Jones Park and Nature Center and Mercer Botanic Gardens both received the most damage in our parks department by a long shot. The Nature Center at Jones had about 7 feet of water in it and Mercer had about 6-and-a-half feet of water in the Visitor Center. These two buildings are the heart of those parks respectively. The water has receded out of Jones Park, except for obvious low areas like the boardwalk trails and pond trails in the lowest lands nearest to Spring Creek. This was the largest flood we have seen in Jones Park since October 1994 when 52 inches of water inundated the Nature Center. In the Harvey event, all structures within the park took on some water except the cabin, smokehouse, root cellar and workshops in the Pioneer Homestead area. The plant life within a flood plain will return to normalcy fairly quickly but trails, restrooms and electrical and plumbing infrastructure will all have to be evaluated, cleaned, dried out, repaired and/or replaced. This will likely take a couple of months to repair. The Nature Center will take much longer, but we do plan to rebuild. Some park trails, restrooms and picnic area should be open soon.”
Jones Park Director Darlene Conley said park staff began preparing for Hurricane Harvey before the storm hit by moving all the animals, equipment and valuable artifacts to higher ground. Conley said the floodwaters had risen to the front parking lot of the park by Saturday, Aug. 26. By Sunday morning, the floodwaters covered the green space up to the flower beds in front of the Nature Center and was continuing to rise.
“With the anticipated additional rain, we predicted the water would enter the Nature Center later that evening. We prepared based on the flood that occurred in October 1994. The water receded out of the Nature Center on Thursday, Aug. 31. The Nature Center had nearly 7 feet of water in it. The maintenance garage had 18 inches of water. The corner outdoor restroom was flooded over the roof. Damage occurred to the canoe launch. The playground restroom had 2 feet of water. Many of the park trails are covered with sand, which will take months to clear,” said Conley.
Conley said the park reopened Saturday, Sept. 16 with the playground and picnic area and some walking trails open. Other trails will open later as they are cleared. The homestead was not affected by the flood and it will be open for Second Saturday Settlers Saturday, Oct. 14 and Pioneer Day on Saturday, Nov. 11.
Conley said the Nature Center will be closed for an undetermined number of months and all of the September programs are canceled until further notice.
Harris County Pct. 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle said, “The problem with the Nature Center is that buildings cost money. But now that this building has taken on water twice, once during Allison and now during Harvey, that is going to go into our calculations as to whether we expand the current building or find another location. These are things we will look at. If there is someone in the public who would like to name the building after someone important, we would love to work with them. We would very much consider giving naming rights to someone or some entity who would love to build an appropriate nature center and community center in that area. I’d love to have a building that is safe from hurricanes and their impact and that could serve as a relief center if we face another crisis.”
Park staff will continue to repair and restore the damage to the park trails, restrooms and maintenance building in the coming months. Conley said those interested in volunteering to help repair the park can join the Jesse Jones Park Volunteers on the park website, hcp4.net/community/parks/jones. In addition, other nonprofit organizations or corporate groups interested in helping with trail clearing can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Johnston said, “Once the initial shock teams have completed their heavy lifting, there will be a time for volunteer labor forces to help put the trails back in order. The public may also wish to donate funds to the Jesse Jones Park Volunteer organization as homestead accoutrements and other program supplies have been lost. Anyone who has been to one of Jones Park's fabulous programs has experienced all those Jones Park hands-on displays that make each program special. Most of the park books, static displays, puppets, educational display items, microscopes, binoculars, GPS units, mounted animals, pioneer-era clothing, and accoutrements were damaged or lost. Many of those items have been around for more than 20 years and some were being passed around by a second generation of children.”

 

 

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… we’ve got a small favor to ask. More people are reading The Tribune than ever. Advertising revenues across the media  spectrum are falling fast. And unlike many news organizations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Tribune's independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too. If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure. Support the only locally owned, locally produced news product in the Lake Houston area. And thank you!

For many years, the Mercer Botanic Gardens have been the beautiful backdrop chosen by professional and amateur photographers alike for wedding, engagement, family and quinceañera photos. The exotic flora and fauna of the park has created a special spot to many to take a walk, a rest or just relax and enjoy the extensive collection of rare and endangered plants. Unfortunately, the recent floods following Hurricane Harvey took a toll on many local areas, including Mercer.
Harris County Pct. 4 Parks Director Dennis Johnston said, “Mercer had about 6-and-a-half feet of water in the Visitor Center. The Visitor Center has been stripped down to bare studs throughout and all buildings within the park, including the library and staff equipment support buildings, were under 4-8 feet of water. The gardens are in shambles as many of the plantings were the non-native, color garden variety and will need to be replaced. Infrastructure has to be put back together so staff can operate safely and efficiently. It will be months before Mercer is back open for business in any capacity.”
Mercer Director Darrin Duling added, “The park was hit hard. All buildings were compromised save for our staff building, which is up on 10-foot piers. The gardens are devastated, and some areas will not be recoverable to their former identity. We will have to rethink what happens in the future. Most of our woodland trails are full of fallen trees and, with everything else we are doing to get ourselves up and running, we have not yet been able to venture very far to survey the complete damage in those areas. We are beaten but not broken, and determined to rebuild stronger and more beautiful than ever.”
The water began to rise on the Mercer grounds overnight on Saturday during the storm. Duling said a staff member went to the park the morning of Sunday, Aug. 27 and the water was already 2 feet high at the garden entrance. By the next morning, the water was at least 7-8 feet high. By Wednesday, Aug. 30, the water level at the entrance was receding and was down to approximately 4 feet at the main entrance. By Thursday morning, the water had completely receded in that area, leaving behind pools of water and copious amounts of mud.
Mercer is home to hundreds of varieties of plants, many of which have been lost, some possibly for good.
“We have tons of rare and endangered species from all over the world that have been lost, both in the gardens and in our nurseries. We actually operate more as a living museum than a park and you could liken us to an ark for preserving plants. Unfortunately, our ark took on water. Many of these will be difficult or impossible to replace, and with older specimens we have lost many years of growth. Fortunately, our colleagues from botanic gardens all over the country have contacted us to offer botanical specimens when we are ready to accept them. We target rare and endangered species that other botanic gardens or specialty nurseries have available,” said Duling.
Recovery will be a long and slow process for the park, but Duling said the staff will be able to rebuild or refurbish nearly all buildings and infrastructure. Much of the infrastructure repair will be completed by the Harris County Pct. 4 Trades Division.
Those who wish to contribute to the rebuilding of Mercer may donate funds to The Mercer Society’s Rebuild Mercer campaign, themercersociety.org. All donations to this campaign will remain dedicated for this purpose. Duling said volunteers are not yet needed on site at Mercer, but that as park conditions improve, staff will put out a greater call for volunteer assistance. To sign up for the Mercer volunteer program, email Volunteer Coordinator Jamie Hartwell at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Duling noted that The Mercer Society, the nonprofit support organization for Mercer, also took a huge hit, as floodwaters completely covered its offices.
“Many wonderful fall fundraising events and programs, such as Wine and Roses in the Garden, the 10th Annual Garden Party, and the Teddy Bear Picnic, are now canceled,” said Duling. The Mercer Society is looking for volunteers for the committees, as well as board members, to help reschedule these events for Spring 2018. To volunteer, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Looking forward, Pct. 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle said, “Before Harvey occurred, we were working on a master plan for rebuilding Mercer after the Tax Day floods damaged many of Mercer’s structures and gardens. We plan to continue developing this master plan and layer it with information learned from Harvey. We are in the process of reviewing plans from two competing architectural firms that both incorporate ways to provide green space and natural flood relief for surrounding areas.”

SACRAMENTO– U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Linda McMahon announced today that the SBA has approved more than $509 million in federal disaster loans for Texas businesses and residents affected by Hurricane Harvey.
 
According to McMahon, the SBA has approved 446 loans for $42,110,500 for businesses and 5,566 loans for $467,661,300 for residents to help rebuild and recover from this massive storm.
 
“This milestone, which has been reached faster than any preceding disaster recovery effort, demonstrates this administration's dedication to quickly and effectively helping those businesses and homeowners who have gone through so much,” SBA Administrator McMahon said. 
 
“Our work is not done yet by any measure, and I want the people of Texas, Florida, Georgia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to know that the SBA will be there for the long haul, until those areas are fully recovered.”
 
Businesses and residents who sustained damages should first register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency by visiting www.DisasterAssistance.gov. This is the fastest way to get help. You don’t need to wait for your insurance settlement or contractor’s estimate before registering for assistance.
 
SBA representatives continue to meet with business owners and residents at all Federal/State Disaster Recovery Centers and five SBA Business Recovery Centers to answer questions about SBA’s disaster loan program, explain the application process, help complete loan forms and close approved loans. For a list of locations, visit SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/disaster. No appointment is necessary.
 
Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. The SBA can also lend additional funds to help businesses and residents with the cost of making improvements that protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.
 
For small businesses and most private nonprofit organizations of all sizes, SBA offers Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet working capital needs caused by the disaster. Economic injury assistance is available regardless of whether the business suffered any property damage.
 
Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace their damaged or destroyed primary residence. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.
 
Applicants may apply online using SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
 
Applicants may receive additional disaster assistance information by visiting www.sba.gov/disaster. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at(800) 659-2955 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.v for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard‑of‑hearing may call(800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX  76155.

The Small Business Administration (SBA), in conjuction with FEMA, has opened a disaster recovery center at the Senior Citizen's Activity Center at 1401 S. Houston Ave. in Humble. SBA loan counselors are able to speak face to face with loan applicants to help them apply for SBA assistance.