On Friday, August 25, 2017 around 11 P.M. local time, Hurricane Harvey struck the coast of Texas, resulting in strong winds and heavy rains as a Category 4 hurricane. As the hurricane continued to make landfall, it was downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane and eventually, a tropical storm.
Though the strength of the storm lessened as it made landfall, it still left billions of dollars of destruction in its path, making it the costliest tropical cyclone in history. Houston, the fourth largest city in the nation, faced catastrophic flooding which resulted in thousands of displaced residents and a massive influx of mosquitoes.
Mosquito Joe franchisee Kate Gould was caught in the thick of it.
“We were surrounded by water and couldn’t get much further than the end of our street,” she said. “Our business suffered as a result because we had to shut down. We were trapped inside of our own home.”
Gould said she felt helpless not being able to assist other families in immediate need. She called her customers to ensure they were alright and waited for the water to recede. The moment she was able to begin operations, Gould and her crew got to work. She offered complimentary services to her customers whose homes were in shambles, a small way of helping those who were now financially at risk.
“We wanted to make sure our customers knew that we cared about their safety first,” said Gould.
As the devastation unfolded and the cost to rebuild continued to rise, so did the mosquito and insect population. According to the Centers for Disease Control, Texas was in the top 20% of states impacted by mosquito-borne illnesses in 2018, causing many to point to Hurricane Harvey.
“Beyond the ramifications of the rain and flooding damage to homes after Harvey, the insect population grew exponentially,” according to Gould. “We tell customers standing water can harvest dangerous pests and the whole city was under standing water.”
Aside from the growing mosquito population, new insects and pests that were previously uncommon to the Houston region were also beginning to nest. This meant Gould and her crew had to adjust the way they treated their customer’s yards.
“You have to constantly be checking your methods,” she said. “The way we did things in early August was no longer necessarily a reliable method.”
One year later, Gould says the city is still recovering and bracing for the next big storm. She has customers asking her to pre-treat their yards ahead of peak hurricane season, paying close attention to areas that have accumulated standing water in the past. The next time there is severe inclement weather, Gould says she and her Mosquito Joe team will be prepared to face the hundred-year flood.