HOUSTON (AP) — Katlyn Perkins’ first announcement that something was very wrong at her home in northeast Houston came at 8:19 p.m. on Aug. 24, when she updated her Facebook status.
Like many 20-year-olds, Perkins lives out her life on social media. She often provides a running commentary on Facebook Live and YouTube videos, posting selfies and photos of her three dogs. As Hurricane Harvey lumbered toward Houston, Perkins had one eye glued to her iPhone and the other on TV, watching “Outdaughtered,” a reality show about a family with quintuplets. Her 14-year-old brother played a post-apocalyptic video game.
It started to rain. And rain. And so as the water filled her house, she turned to the only place she knew to ease the heightening dread: Facebook.
She tapped out statuses and went live on video, all while the water from Halls Bayou next to her house crept up and up. Her home, which she’d lived in her entire life, had never flooded.
On Saturday, she stretched out over a row of seats in the corner of the cavernous George R. Brown Convention Center, now a temporary home to about 1,000 evacuees, charging her phone. A sour stench of unwashed bodies filled the air. Empty water bottles and a half-eaten granola bar lay on the cement floor in the corner near the outlet.
And there was Perkins, scrolling through her Facebook page as her messy black hair fell in her eyes.
This is the story of Harvey, a real-life tragedy, through the eyes of someone who lives online.
2:55 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 26:
“It just got pitch black,” Perkins says on video, while standing in near darkness on her front steps. “Streets are starting to flood a little bit. I just pray that everyone else is safe. We’re probably going to lose some power. If I’m not mistaken, the hurricane is a Category 4. The sky just got real black. It’s kinda creepy, if you ask me.”
7:46 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 26:
As she broadcasts live images of the sheets of water coming down in her driveway, Perkins has to almost yell to be heard over the sound of the rain. “Our bayou is going to flood real bad. It has never rained this heavy. My dog Shaggy’s so scared. And there’s f—— water coming in the house. We got water piling up right here,” she points to the back door. “It’s going to wash right in. And all of the streets are almost completely flooded.”
She calls to her brother, Raymond: “There’s water coming in!”
Raymond, off camera: “You’re getting overly dramatic.”
8:38 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 26:
Katlyn Perkins marks herself safe during Hurricane Harvey on Facebook.
12:04 a.m., Sunday, Aug. 27 (Perkins’ birthday):
“We have water washing over our curb. And we have a tornado warning for this area. Our yard is completely filled with water. Yep. I’m not sleeping tonight,” she says, her face fills the video frame. “Our drains have completely given up.”
4:11 a.m., Sunday, Aug. 27:
“There’s no way to get into our neighborhood at all,” she says, sitting on her bed with an American flag as a backdrop on the wall. “One of our ceilings in our dad’s room has collapsed and now it’s leaking water.”
A friend types: “Start praying that no harm shall come nigh your dwelling, in JESUS MIGHTY NAME! Amen”
9:36 a.m., Sunday, Aug. 27:
We going be getting evacuated soon so scared water getting so high, Perkins writes.
10:36 a.m., Sunday, Aug. 27:
2:12 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 27:
“This used to be our yard,” she says on video, standing in ankle-deep water just inside her front door. There’s so many people here, they’re underwater. I don’t know how much longer we can hold out. If you’re watching this, please send help.”
A friend writes: “Katlyn, if you have a ladder get it so you have it on hand. If it gets too much higher get on the roof if you don’t have an upstairs. Keep yourself dry if possible.”
3:48 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 27:
She points her video toward at her dad’s truck in the driveway, and water nearly covers the tire.
10:11 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 27:
Water is knee-deep inside the house, and the family decides to leave. Not without some tears, though, because Perkins has to leave the dogs behind. She puts them on the beds. After wading through water that’s chest and neck high in some places along her street, Perkins, her brother and their father make it to safety. Perkins immediately updates her Facebook.
I’m so happy I survived
“Me too!!! I’ve been worried about you and praying for you. Are you somewhere safe?” writes a friend.
Fire department for now
4:03 a.m., Monday, Aug. 28:
Well we barely get any money and we won’t have beds or furniture or stove/oven. Or refrigerator for who knows how long
“Where are you?” typed a friend.
George b convention center
8:37 a.m., Monday, Aug. 28:
as result we had to get out and leave our dogs pray for Houston
“You got out?” a friend wrote.
Ikr (that’s text shorthand for I know, right)
11:40 a.m., Aug. 29:
I’m so worried, she posts.
“Why what’s wrong” a friend writes.
About our dogs that we had to leave behind
4:27 a.m., Aug. 30:
We lost everything to Harvey and we hoping our dogs ain’t one of them our other stuff can be replaced but our dogs no, she writes, and posts old pictures of her three dogs, Shaggy, Peaches and Angel.
6:45 a.m., Aug. 31:
I just got the best news ever the water is gone down and are dogs are ok
Her last Facebook post is a video from 10:42 a.m. Friday, Sept. 1, when a famous TV magician came to the convention center to entertain the hurricane evacuees.
“David Blaine was here OH MY GOD”
Follow Tamara Lush on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tamaralush
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