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: