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1 Granite Stater had to flee Harvey, another marooned

Union Leader Correspondent

August 28. 2017 10:06PM
Vickie Burleigh McComb, center, with friends Nancy Bowlby and Tom Robicheaux arrives at a Texas shelter for flood victims early Monday morning. (COURTESY)
How to help
To assist with Harvey relief, you can donate to:

• The Salvation Army at

• The American Red Cross at

If you are asked for donations, you can also check out the organization with Charity Navigator or the Better Business Bureau. Con artists thrive in the wake of disaster.

Vickie Burleigh McComb’s 1 a.m. trip to the bathroom just may have saved her life.

The Brentwood native who now lives near Houston, Texas, had no idea that her bedroom was rapidly filling with water early Monday as the catastrophe from Tropical Storm Harvey’s flooding rains continues to unfold.

“I put my feet down and I was knee-deep in water in the bedroom. It was unbelievable,” she said.

McComb, who’s living in Porter, Texas, with friends Nancy Bowlby and Tom Robicheaux, said she screamed for them to get up and call for help.

Fortunately, she said, the National Guard was rescuing people in the neighborhood at the time and a truck showed up within about 30 minutes.

McComb, 51, said she and her friends threw a few belongings in a garbage bag, grabbed their cat and four dogs, and fled.

“The water was up to my chest by the time I got into the Army truck,” McComb said.

McComb and her friends were taken to a shelter, which is where they’ll stay until they figure out what to do next.

It’ll take some time before the extent of the flood damage is known.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen with the rain. It just keeps getting us. I’ve seen high water before, but I’ve never witnessed something like this and I hope I never do again,” she said.

While she sought refuge at the shelter, McComb said her 21-year-old daughter, Shyla, and her boyfriend went out in boats to help rescue more people in their Houston suburb.

Merchant Marine Noah Blanchard of Barrington remains aboard an oil tanker docked in the Houston shipping channel. (COURTESY)

Riding out storm

As McComb and other flood victims with New Hampshire ties wait for the relentless rain to stop, Noah Blanchard of Barrington remains on a 550-foot oil tanker that’s been docked in the Houston shipping channel since Friday.

Blanchard, 33, is a chief mate with the Merchant Marine whose crew of nine moves black oil to and from refineries.

After loading cargo, Blanchard said the decision was made to stay at the dock and ride out the hurricane.

Blanchard said the ship was already tied up to the berth in Houston by the time Harvey hit.

He experienced about 50 mph winds and a storm surge that raised the Houston shipping channel by four to five feet, but the heavy rain has been the big story in Houston.

“The rain comes in bands of near-zero visibility intense rain to almost calm and dry,” he said.

The ship won’t be able to leave until the high seas subside.

“We are very safe and we feel very helpless seeing all the destruction around us. My folks live an hour north of where I am and they’re experiencing massive flooding,” he said.

This isn’t the first time Blanchard has been on a ship during a monster storm.

He’s been a Merchant Marine for 15 years and was on a tug and barge in New York City during Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

“We were unable to find a safe berth in that storm so conditions were a lot worse,” he said.

Weather Barrington Brentwood