‘Worst has already passed,’ flood survivor says

Published 5:14 pm Friday, September 1, 2017

By Jan Griffey

The Orange Leader

Clinton Vital went to bed in his apartment on Allie Payne Road in Orange on Tuesday night confident he wasn’t going to get floodwater in his apartment.

“I parked my car up on the curb at about 10 p.m. to make sure it wouldn’t get any water if it flooded. I told my girlfriend not to worry, we weren’t going to get flooded out. Don’t panic,” he said.

He was wrong.

At about 6 a.m. Wednesday morning, he trudged downstairs to find two feet of standing water on the first floor.

It’s a nightmare that played out all over Orange County and Southeast Texas Tuesday night and Wednesday morning and continues for many.

“I looked outside my window when I woke up and saw people in rain boots. I walked downstairs and found myself standing in two feet of water in my apartment,” Vital said.

Flash forward to Friday afternoon, and Vital said he is numb and doesn’t know what to think. He has been overwhelmed by the kindness of complete strangers and frustrated by those who are spreading misinformation on social media.

Vital, his girlfriend and their 1-year-old son were rescued Wednesday afternoon by people in a boat, who delivered them to a bank building, where they were transported by truck to North Orange Baptist Church, which is serving as a shelter.

“The people in the boat — I don’t remember their names or what city they are from, but I know it was like from three hours away. They guy who transported us to the shelter in a truck was from Dallas. We have people from all over helping here,” Vital said.

As the hours passed on Friday, and much of Orange remained without power, Vital drove a truck borrowed from the Chevrolet dealership where he works away from his apartment, where he gathered up what possessions he could.

As he watched the water recede, he began to think about what faces him and his family and so many of his neighbors.

“We had two feet of water inside the apartment. The car is gone. I’m trying everything I can to stay calm and not panic. I’m trying to remind myself the worst has already passed. I’m pretty much in awe. I’ve never witnessed anything like this before in my life,” Vital said. “I believe that things are moving in the right direction.”