A local man's home was destroyed during Hurricane Harvey. Thousands of Houstonians went through something similar, but a serious medical condition made his situation even more challenging! Yonah Peterson was born with a rare eye disease that has continually gotten worse. He is now blind. He was beyond relieved to find shelter at a local church, after not being allowed back into his neighborhood for ten days.
Yonah's certified guide dog, Jennings, would steer him from place to place, but now Yonah has to rely on his guide-stick and friends to get around, all because of Hurricane Harvey. "It totally freaked him out, and he's having panic attacks. He was diagnosed with PTSD and he's going to the doctor tomorrow to get another analysis to see what's going on," explains Yonah.
On Sunday, August 26th, 2017, Yonah called 911 to report he was in trouble in southeast Houston, as flood water was rushing into his home. "When we left, water was coming from the back door, front door, the pantry, and sewage from the toilets," says Yonah.
Firefighters made their way to his house and loaded them into a boat.
This was the height of the storm and they were in the elements for hours. "We got to higher ground and they put us on a fire truck. They put Jennings up, hoisted him up the ladder, and drove around for a long time to find higher ground. We were driven to a dump truck and they put us in a dump truck," says Yonah.
They were finally taken to a gym in Pasadena and went to sleep hungry. "We slept that night on the floor with no blankets, just shivering together," says Yonah. After their trip by boat fire truck, then dump truck, a bus was next. "We were the first bus to arrive at Lakewood! The three of us came out and we were drenched and emotionally drained and didn't know what was happening, and we were greeted with open arms. People were hugging us, saying welcome to our home, to our church," smiles Yonah.
Yonah says they spent eight days there and were given necessities that meant so much, like a warm meal, dog food, and toiletries. "That deodorant they gave me was like a brick of gold that day. One cool thing - My family doesn't look like a normal family. My partner and our dog, and that was never in question. They just saw we were in need and said, come on in! Nothing but love, pure love. It was like a warm blanket. It was like -we don't care about technicalities. You're in need and we have your back," describes Yonah.
Yonah and Michael lost a lot during the storm. They're having to learn to live as a minimalists, replacing one piece of furniture at a time. They lost their lifelong collection of antiques and all of Jonah's paintings, that he created before he lost his eyesight. At the end of the day though, Jonah is just relieved that he and his family had a safe place to stay during their darkest hours, even a church they had never visited before. "I am so grateful to Lakewood. They were helpful to me and so many people. Joel, his family, and the church family, couldn't be more gracious. If I could personally shake his hand, I would do it and thank him again," smiles Yonah.
Now that his guide dog, Jennings, is retired, he considers him to be his best friend and will remain loyal, allowing him to live out his final years as a pet versus work dog.
For more information, https://www.lakewoodchurch.com/Pages/Hurricane-Relief.aspx