Iowa Native Displaced by Hurricane Harvey Returns Home

DES MOINES, Iowa — While some island nations are still in the heart of Hurricane Maria, those who made it through Hurricane Harvey are just starting to pick up the pieces.

89 year-old Richard Cornelison evacuated his home on Mustang Island just off the coast of Corpus Christi Texas. With no vacancy in any nearby hotels the Des Moines native was forced to sleep in the back of his car until he was allowed back to see what had happened to his home.

“There was just trash piled up in front of my front door, I could hardly open it” said Richard.

When he did open the door, he found out just how much water was in his house.

“I had shoes sitting on the floor in the bedroom. I had a pair there, one shoe I found in the corner of the bedroom, the other one was in the kitchen which is two rooms away! I don’t know how the water sloshed around so much in there, but everything was ruined” said Richard.

But incredibly some items were salvageable; pictures of Richard and his late wife Dorothy along with their marriage certificate.  Soaked, but not destroyed.

“They were on the floor. The water had got high enough that it washed them off the table. I’m still not over it” Richard said as he got choked up. “and I’m sorry I get so emotional but I do” he said.

After gathering what he could save Richard’s son helped set him up in an assisted living home in Des Moines.  Oddly enough, less than half a mile from the home he built and raised his family in.  In fact he can see the trees he planted over 40 years ago from his living room window.

“It’s just something unusual I’d say. No I don’t know that it’s comforting at all or anything, it’s just something unusual that I’d move back so close” said Richard.

Now the man who moved so close to the ocean so he could fish more often must decide what comes next.

“My kids will probably fight me like the devil, me going back and living alone again. I probably won’t” said Richard.

Richard was born in Decatur County and spent most of his life in Des Moines working for the Bell Telephone Company.