Lewis County flood survivors offer advice for Harvey victims

In 2007, the Chehalis River flooded dozens of homes, leaving many families with nothing.

It’s one thing to think you are going to die. It’s another to call your children to tell them good-bye.

“We literally called family and said, ‘We hope it doesn’t happen, but there’s a possibility we won’t see tomorrow,’” said Lance Wrzesinski.

He and his wife JoAnn were eventually rescued off the rooftop of their flooded Lewis County home.

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It was December 3, 2007, when heavy rains and slides caused the Chehalis River to flood dozens of homes and Interstate 5. The freeway was closed for several days.

Wrzesinski said it has been hard to watch coverage of flooding and rescues in Houston.

“What they’re experiencing now is just the beginning,” said Wrzesinski, fighting back tears.

Valerie Bornstein said she knows what Houston residents are going through.

“They’re feeling lost; they’re feeling panicked,” said Bornstein.

She and eight relatives waited for eight hours on the roof of her home until a Coast Guard helicopter rescued everyone. At one point the home lifted off its foundation and floated 100 yards downstream.

She lost everything, but the memories are still vivid.

“You heard that bone-chilling sound,” said Bornstein. “It was the house tearing away.”

Both Bornstein and Wrzesinski survived and rebuilt thanks, they said, to support from charities and volunteers. They said survivors in Houston are going to need to rely on help and to ask for it.

“They’re going to need more help than we can imagine,” said Wrzesinski.