Hurricane Harvey: FWCD Community Reactions


Photo courtesy of Eric Lombardi

FWCD middle school students sell lemonade at a local TCU football game to raise funds for Hurricane Harvey relief.

Eric Lombardi, Head of School at Fort Worth Country Day, has taken the recent events in Houston to heart due to his former position at St. Johns as M.S. division head, an ISAS private school in Houston, and has helped FWCD get involved in efforts to support fellow Texans.

Lombardi came to FWCD in 2015 after living in Houston for over 20 years. He and his wife watched the Facebook live feed about Hurricane Harvey hoping that their friends and family were going to be safe. Fortunately, less than ten of Lombardi’s friends were affected and his in-laws were out of town when the hurricane struck. As for St. Johns, less than 25 students were heavily impacted by the storm and other ISAS schools in Houston such as Episcopal and Kincaid were fine as well. While Lombardi counts himself fortunate that more loved ones were not affected, he emphasizes the level of devastation Houston is still under and that FWCD as a community can help out in many ways.

“Helping our friends in Houston is not measured by the amount of dollars donated but by the amount of people involved,” Lombardi said.

FWCD has gotten involved with Hurricane Harvey support by holding Middle School and Upper School bake sales, a “frog-juice” stand manned by middle schoolers at the most recent TCU football home game, and a gift card that is being put together by the Middle School for faculty at Galeena Park, a school that was completely flooded and lost all of its supplies, to buy new school supplies. One MS faculty member, Michael Parker, and one LS parent, Andy Edwards, have made heroic efforts themselves. Parker worked with his church to take much needs supplies down to Houston and Edwards helped collect supplies from the FWCD community and took his children and some of their friends along with him to make the trek south. Lombardi praised their efforts and acknowledged that there are many other such cases of heroes in our community.

As future hurricanes threaten our coast, FWCD will continue to do everything it can to support those in need and give people with dwindling hope a light at the end of the tunnel. Several other people in the FWCD community have been affected by this tragedy and are doing everything they can to help their neighbors.

Husband to the rescue 

Photo courtesy of Stefanie Luedtke
Michael Luedtke gives up his raft to a group of jet skiers and rides along to help them in their efforts.

Calculus and Algebra I teacher Stefanie Luedtke wished her husband goodbye and good luck when he departed for Houston on Monday, August 28. Michael Luedtke journeyed to Kingwood, a city just outside of Houston, to deliver supplies to his aunt and uncle and to retrieve his cousin from her apartment. However, he could not reach his cousin on Monday and had to return the next day. Not only did Luedtke safely remove his cousin from her apartment, but he also took a raft to patrol the neighborhood for people in need of rescue and supplies. Luedtke was not alone in his endeavor; he travelled with two friends. Traffic was not bad for the heroes, but the roads were often blocked, resulting in a convoluted route through back roads. Once the men arrived to the neighborhoods in Kingwood, they discovered houses filled with water up to five or six feet high. Luedtke and his heroic crew drove around looking for places and people needing help. They came into contact with a police officer who directed them to a place in need. When they arrived to their destination, there were other men driving sea doos (also known as jet-ski) because boats with motors could not go over the cars in the streets underwater. However, the sea doos did not have adequate space for passengers, so the drivers requested Luedtke’s raft. The men then drove around the sea doos pulling the raft and collecting people who were trapped in their homes. Stefanie Luedtke was worried about her husband getting stuck when the dams opened on Monday. Nevertheless, Michael Luedtke returned safe and sound Tuesday evening.

Camp friends of FWCD students speak out

Hurricane Harvey, the biggest storm in Texas in ten years, has caused devastation to the Houston area and has touched all of Texas in a way. From camp friends to family, this hurricane has caused more than property damage, but also struck a deep in the heart of Texas.

Kate Miller, a camp friend of Isabella Vallance ’20, has been affected by the hurricane indirectly through her friends and her school.

The main thing that helped Miller’s friends was evacuating to San Antonio and Dallas. Miller’s school became a shelter for people because of the school’s’ retention pond and large ditches surrounding it.

The area had a lot of warning but since the residents did not think that the hurricane would be bad, most decided to stay. The evacuation was not mandatory in most areas but in a few areas it was required. The flooding in their area amounted to about two feet of water. The damage was not as bad as other places, since the water was only a few inches high; however, they are still feeling all of the consequences of the devastating storm.

Dogs flood Fort Worth shelters and Sarah Morton ’18 comes to their aid 

During Hurricane Harvey, there was a correlation between people who did not evacuate and people with pets. In Houston, the total population is around 2.3 million not including the thousands of pets located there. Many pet owners refused to separate from and abandon their pets, but unfortunately, most shelters cannot accommodate pets. Animal shelters for Harvey have been set up across the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex in support of the Harvey victims. Along with animal shelters, organizations and pet lovers all over the United States have donated food, money, and leashes to different pet shelters.

Among these animal lovers is Sarah Morton, who has been volunteering at a number of animal shelters in Fort Worth to care for the pets of Harvey. Morton loves animals and working with the dogs and kittens that are brought to the shelter.

“I have been helping out at three animal shelters in Fort Worth because my dad works with animal shelters in Fort Worth. Most of the pets are dogs but there are a few kittens,” Morton said.

One of the shelters that Morton has been involved in is at Tarrant County Community College. The pet shelters are set up near the owners’ shelters so that owners are able to walk their dogs and spend time with their pets. The shelters have set up areas with tents and air conditioning for the pets. Many of the shelters are still in need of volunteers and donations to help and care for the animals.

Teegarden provides her family a safe haven from Harvey

Hurricane Harvey has affected the lives of many people across Texas, including the family of Fort Worth Country Day faculty member Sara Teegarden, Upper School History teacher. Teegarden’s sister, Katherine Strange, and her three kids as well as Teegarden’s sister-in-law, Karen Teegarden, and her three kids all came to Fort Worth to escape Harvey, while their husbands stayed down in Houston.

“My sister-in-law and her family live in Memorial Village and were really impacted because part of I-10 traffic was being diverted to the village so no one could go anywhere,” Teegarden said.

While in Fort Worth for four days, Strange’s family stayed with her mother while Teegarden’s sister-in-law and her family stayed with Teegarden’s mother-in-law. During their stay, Teegarden brought her niece, Annabelle Strange, to FWCD to spend the day as a sixth grader.

“Mr. Stephens set [Annabelle] up with a sixth grader named Piper Baine ‘24. [Baine] took her around the whole day and Annabelle had an amazing time. [Annabelle] said that if [her family] ever came to Fort Worth, she would want to go to FWCD,” Teegarden said.

Thankfully, neither Strange’s nor Karen Teegarden’s house suffered damage from Harvey, and their kids returned to school the week of September 11. Teegarden continued to keep in touch with her family after they returned to Houston and got insight into the aftermath and struggles people are facing after Harvey.

“The hardest thing is that all the volunteers left because they are going back to work, and Houston still needs help because there are so many things to do but there is no one to help,” Teegarden said.

In order to help out, many people, including Teegarden’s sister, are volunteering through their church, and many churches throughout Houston are actively helping. While help is being provided to those in Houston, it will take a long time for the city to recover from Harvey.

“People are really sad and devastated and it is really hard to explain to kids what happened,” Teegarden said. “After listening to my sister, I think in general, Houston just needs more people, more hands, and more bodies helping out.”