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'We Grabbed An Ice Chest Full Of Food': One Family’s Escape From The Storm

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez
Larry Nash, Vanessa Dean and three of their four children - Legend, Lucas and Logan - at the Delco Center, which is providing shelter for Harvey evacuees. The family came to Austin from Nixon on Friday as the storm approached.

Vanessa Dean, 35, sat in a chair by a row of forest-green cots her family had been sleeping on for four nights and recounted how they left their home in Nixon, Texas, on Friday as Hurricane Harvey barreled toward the coast.

“Everybody was like crying and asking 101 questions like, ‘What are we going to do?’ Where are we going to go?’” she said. "They were just so worried. We just wanted to get out of there.”

Dean, her husband and four boys, who range in age from 1 to 12, are staying at the Wilhelmina Delco Center, one of several Austin shelters for Harvey evacuees.

Roughly 600 people have taken shelter in the city since the storm hit. On Tuesday, the city said it would begin prepping the Austin Convention Center to serve as a mega-shelter, with the capacity of housing up to 2,500 people.

Credit Gabriel Cristóver Pérez / KUT
Roughly 600 people have taken shelter in Austin since the storm hit.

City officials did not order a mandatory evacuation for Nixon, which is about an hour southeast of San Antonio. But Dean and her family live in a mobile home, and when they saw water rising in the street, they made the call to leave.

“We grabbed an ice chest full of food like milk … bread and sandwich meat,” Dean said.

Her husband, Larry Nash, drove the family in their Honda Civic to Austin. At times, the drive was treacherous.

“I did wind up skidding out of control and hit a little curb,” he said.

On Tuesday, the family finished eating lunch provided by the shelter: a ham and cheese sandwich, bags of Fritos and Cheetos and some fruit. Their youngest child, Legend Nash, plinked the keys of a toy xylophone. At one point, another evacuee returned him to his parents after he ran, giggling, to the front of the shelter.

Nash, 34, said the boys were treating the experience like an adventure.

Meanwhile, he worried about what the family would return to.

“The people who did stay behind did say that there was flooding everywhere,” he said. “It doesn’t take much to flood us in right there. Probably two inches of rain gives us flooding water.”

Audrey McGlinchy is KUT's housing reporter. She focuses on affordable housing solutions, renters’ rights and the battles over zoning. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on Twitter @AKMcGlinchy.
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