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Harvey's destruction felt by Hastings' Leon

Joshua Leone's home is circled. He said that his house was flooded with about 2 to 3 feet of water. Submitted photo

Hurricane Harvey's destructive toll on the Houston area and 33 Texas counties hit too close to home for Joshua Leone.

Leone, the general manager at the Green Mill in Hastings, spent 32 years in Houston before moving to Minnesota in February.

Leone still has a home that was built only two years ago in Conroe, Texas. It was completely flooded with 2 to 3 feet of water on Aug. 24 during the storms from Harvey.

Joshua Leone, right, and his wife Elizabeth. Submitted photoHe arrived back in Houston on Aug. 28 to deal with the aftermath. He and his wife, Elizabeth, drove 23 hours straight until they arrived in the area.

"It's just a creepy, very eery feeling," Leone said.

Highways are flooded, stores are closed, there is a lack of supplies and many people lost everything they own. Leone said that most of the homes in his neighborhood did not have flood insurance, which will severely impact them financially. Everyone on his block has had to gut their homes so that mold does not spread, so the front yards are covered with contents from their homes.

"This has been worse than anything else I have experienced," Leone said.

However, Leone said it was really amazing to see the number of volunteers helping the people of Houston. Just on the drive down to Texas, Leone said that they saw about 32 vehicles from other states with signs and supplies heading in the direction to help.

Every day is depressing and a lot of labor, but having volunteers coming down and handing out food to people is great to see, he said. As someone on the receiving end of it, Leone said that anything people can do is greatly appreciated because it really is devastating.

"Each day it gets a little bit better," he said.

People who would like to donate toward hurricane relief have several different options. The JJ Watt Foundation has raised more than $32 million for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Watt has promised to make sure the money goes directly back to the people of Houston.

The United Way of Greater Houston is accepted donations for their United Way Relief Fund. The organization says that 100 percent of gifts to the fund will go directly to the people of Houston and help the community recover from Hurricane Harvey.

Former presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama joined together in response to the devastation of the hurricane with One Americal Appeal. Donations are accepted through the website www.oneamericaapppeal.org and will be used to support recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. More information can be found on the website.

The American Red Cross will also be providing financial assistance to Texas households that were severely impacted by Hurricane Harvey. They will also help people affected by Hurricane Irma. More information about the Red Cross services and how to donate can be found at www.redcross.org.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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