Doctors recall Allison's floodwaters at Med Center

January 10, 2012 10:00:20 AM PST
It's been 10 years since Tropical Storm Allison roared into Houston. One of the hardest hit areas was the famed Texas Medical Center, which sustained more than a billion dollars in damage.

More than two feet back up into the world's largest medical center, forcing massive evacuations and destroying years of research. It's a day Dr. Bud Frazier will never forget. Water was everywhere, rising and fast. The Medical Center was flooding and Memorial Hermann Hospital took on 38 feet of water. Power went out and backup generator system flooded.

Eight-hundred patients had to be evacuated and carried down eight flights of dark stairs. But little did they know that the worst was yet to come.

"This wall over here was connected to Hermann Hospital and that wall caved in," said Dr. Len Cleary with the UTHealth lab.

The water plowed through the Medical Center's tunnel system, rising at facility after facility and drowning thousands of lab animals and destroying years' worth of medical research.

At Methodist Hospital, the pharmacy was destroyed. At Baylor College of Medicine, millions of dollars in research was gone.

Dr. Frazier's lab was in the Texas Heart Institute. When it began to flood, his research assistant barely got out alive.

"That's when he ran out the back. He was lucky to escape because the door broke down and resulted in all of this chaos," Dr. Frazier said.

Years of work on the artificial heart and heart pumps was lost. On the same day that work was swept away by waters that went nearly to the ceiling, his patients were being evacuated from the top of the hospital because there was no power.

Dr. Frazier also has a daughter who was getting married on the day of Tropical Storm Allison -- and her name is Allison.

"The church was flooded, that there was no electricity, no air conditioning, no organ," said Rachel Frazier, Allison's mother.

Dr. Frazier's daughter's wedding was at St. Paul's Methodist Church, just blocks from the Medical Center.

"My wife was crying. My daughter was crying and they kept saying they'll have to call off the wedding," Dr. Frazier said.

"There were a lot of tears that morning, but then you revamp and you say all right, we're going to make this happen," Rachel Frazier said.

But on top of everything else...

"No one could find the groom," Rachel Frazier said.

He had slept through the evacuation of his hotel. He finally made it to the ceremony, which was lit only by candlelight and had a burlap to cover the wet floor.

Ten years later, the memories are still vivid but life has gone on.

Memorial Hermann was rebuilt and expanded. UTHealth and the Texas Heart Institute also have recovered.

And Dr. Frazier's daughter has come to embrace that infamous day -- it's the anniversary of her marriage.

Load Comments