community, opinions

Harvey Heroine: When the water rose, so did she

By Sara Perry

Hurricane Harvey left us all with scars, some financial, some physical, and all emotional. However, even in the wake of disaster comes an air of silver lining.

Multiple stories of heroism, community strength, and improbable friendships that likely would have never been written if not for such terrible circumstances. Nicole Hoover’s story is one of many, but she stands out for her call to action, her ability to mobilize volunteer efforts, and for one very unlucky battle wound.

When Nicole and her husband, both military medics by training, heard that houses were flooding just down the street from them. They knew they had to do something.

Her oldest child and husband quickly jumped to action, taking the family kayaks to help evacuate as many people as they could.

Soon, a notice came in that the levees were being opened and the thousands of gallons expected would certainly make efforts more dangerous.  It would even put their own home at risk, so they remained resilient.

While the flood water trapped them, Hoover continued to mobilize helpers and started a Facebook page where people could post what they needed. She orchestrated numerous community efforts to get volunteers into action. After the waters receded, they put their training to work at local shelters that desperately called for assistance.  

When the shelters were empty and people were going back to clean up the mess mother nature made, she knew there were still people out there who needed her.

Soon after she received a private message through her Facebook group pleading for action. A resident had noticed her elderly neighbor living in his flooded home. He was refusing to let anyone in to help, but help was desperately needed. The neighbor asked Hoover to try to convince him to let them in the house. So off she went.

The initial conversation was not the easiest, don’t ever try to tell an adult that they need your assistance.  After an in-depth conversation, he finally allowed Hoover and her team to enter and it was clear that their work was laid out for them. The task was overwhelming and incredibly physically demanding.

Shockingly, on one particular day of the demo, she had been ripping out drywall with a crowbar and accidentally cut into her thigh. Terrified by the reports of dangerous bacteria in the debris, she asked the homeowner if he had any antiseptic and was given an old bottle of rubbing alcohol. She proceeded to do what any of us would have done: pour it onto the cut.

Nicole Hoover’s leg burn.

Within hours she was in the emergency room with what she imagined was a necrotic infection. But the story would become even more bizarre when she was told that 60% of her leg had received second-degree burns as a result of an acid. As it turns out, opened bottles of rubbing alcohol metabolize into acetic acid over time, an acid strong enough to burn through several layers of skin.

In the end, she was able to make a complete recovery. While she healed, so did all of Kingwood, including the elderly man that tried to send her away. She continues to visit him, having developed a sort of friendship that can only be crafted by weaving the silver linings of storm clouds and even helped him choose curtains and tile patterns for his new home.

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