1,065 miles away from home, I’m stuck watching the Weather Channel and checking my phone hoping that my family is safe back in Houston, Texas.

Living in the Houston area for the past 13 years, I know what hurricanes can do. I have been huddled up in my laundry room with my most valuable possessions, my animals and my family, and let me tell you, it’s a scary experience to live through — even when my family was not in mandatory evacuation. Houses are flooding 10 houses down from you, trees are falling in the street and all you can do is pray that it stops raining, or that nothing falls on your own home.

Here I am, a week into my junior year of college, safely listening to the news in Kentucky, while Hurricane Harvey is hitting my hometown. Knowing that water can damage everything so rapidly, and being so far away for home, all I can do is pray and hope my family is safe.

Seeing picture after picture on the media scared me — one night the roads were fine, and the next morning it looked like a complete lake. Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States, and it takes a lot of water to fill our highways, but Hurricane Harvey did an adequate job of doing just that. Harvey moved slow and steady, dumping as much rain as possible while also going back into the Gulf of Mexico to get some more.

My family was fortunate to not get any water into our home. However, many of my friends were not as lucky. So many people are now picking up pieces as the rebuilding process begins — finding loved one who may have gotten separated through rescue, or searching for the animals that may have gotten left behind throughout all of the events.

I wished that I could be at home to help, but I knew the airport that I fly into was completely underwater. Seeing men and woman risk their lives to save others, working around the clock until pure exhaustion, though, is truly humbling. Watching so many citizens from all over the US come to Houston, bringing their boats, supplies and gas to help my community is a gratifying experience.

Being so far away when a natural disaster happens is horrifying. When your parents do not answer right away, the natural reaction is to think the worst, but I am so proud to be a Texan. Our community is working around the clock to help others in need, opening doors to strangers, and treating every life equally — the rich and poor, elderly and young, animals and humans. Everyone is working together to help one another.

Please visit https://txvoad.communityos.org/cms/node/104 to donate to a local Texas organization that helps victims of Hurricane Harvey.