Former Torontonians in Texas describe being in the midst of tropical storm Harvey

With thousands affected by tropical storm Harvey, some former Torontonians have found themselves right in its crosshairs.

'The water was coming up fast so nobody could go to sleep,' artist Jodi Walsh says

Former Torontonian Jodi Walsh says she didn't sleep Saturday night as tropical storm Harvey unleashed heavy rain on her League City, Texas home. (Jodi Walsh/Facebook)

With thousands affected by tropical storm Harvey, some former Torontonians have found themselves right in its crosshairs.  

As it unleashed heavy rain on her home in League City, Texas, Jodi Walsh says she couldn't sleep Saturday night.

"The water was coming up fast so nobody could go to sleep," the 70-year-old painter told CBC Radio's Metro Morning. "You were basically up all night just watching to see what was going to happen."

She says the rain fell so hard near her home, which is approximately 40 kilometres southeast of Houston, that in the time it took to go to the back of the house to get a flashlight, the floodwaters moved from halfway up her driveway to the garage door.

"Things can happen in an instant. There's no time," she said. "Everything is just happening rapidly."

Walsh says the bands of rain — bursts of precipitation and wind — can cause weather conditions to change dramatically.  
Robert Tomicic says Harvey has been different from other large storms in Texas over the years. (CBC News)

"Right now it's extremely calm. A band will come through, you'd look out the window and you can't see a thing. It's the downpour. It's that strong."

The storm hit land as a Category 4 hurricane Friday evening but has been lingering and continuing to cause trouble for much of Texas.

So far, Harvey has claimed two lives, and it is expected to continue to bring significant amounts of rain to the region.

While she has seen her neighbourhood flooded, Walsh says she's one of the lucky ones. She adds water reached up to the top of garage doors in a neighbouring town and isn't receding.

"People keep talking about Houston, but this is a massive area. It's not just Houston. Some cities, small towns, just don't exist anymore because the tornadoes have come through."

'Never lasted this long'

Robert Tomicic moved to Houston in 1995 and has lived through several major hurricanes, including Ike and Rita — he says Harvey has been different.

"It's never lasted this long. Typically you're looking at one to two days. We're looking at three right now and the weather is forecasting until Wednesday."

There has been substantial flooding around Robert Tomicic's Houston home. (Robert Tomicic)

He has moved everything to the third floor of his home after the water was close to reaching the second floor. While he has found the water has receded a bit, he's doesn't think it's over quite yet.

"At least it's draining a bit and the water is not rising," he said. "But who knows, with the rain and a couple of good rainbands we could be in the same situation that we were before."

'It's scary'

Tanja Vargo was born in Scarborough and moved to Texas in her teens. She's now a real estate agent in Katy, a suburb west of Houston and says since the roads are flooded, the only way she can help her family affected by the storm is to share information over social media.

"It's the only way I can feel like I'm helping because I can't get to my mother. I can't get to my sister. I can't get to my brother and they can't get to me right now," Vargo said.

Tanja Vargo says she's been helping her family members affected by the storm by sharing information over social media. (CBC News)

Although she believes she should be fine if the levee continues to hold up, she's concerned for some of her other family members living in the area.

"It's scary and you just can't think about it. You just have to deal with it as it is," Vargo said. "I know my family are smart people, and they are doing the right things and there is nothing more that they can do."