Hurricane Harvey was a brutal force, leaving destruction and flooding in hundreds of communities along Texas’ southern coast. Among the cities left reeling in the wake of the storm was Manhattan Beach’s sister city, Cleveland, Texas, just outside of Houston.


With a population of about 8,000, Cleveland suffered huge damages, and the storm left hundreds displaced.


But Manhattan Beach residents took quick action to help those most in need in Cleveland by loading seven semi-trailer trucks with school supplies, bedding, cleaning supplies and other provisions for shipment to Cleveland.


Just days after the hurricane, thousands of Cleveland residents lined up in hopes of receiving emergency supplies as the trucks arrived. We sent photographer Jack Zellweger to Cleveland to photograph families affected by the storm, some of which received the relief supplies sent by Manhattan Beach residents.


This piece was shot for Southbay Magazine, and ran in their Nov. 2017 issue.

John and Vicky Harvey rest in front of their house of two decades. The couple says flooding in their area has gotten notably worse in the past years. “We’re getting out of here,” Vicky says. “I haven’t seen nothing like this […] it’s the last straw,” says John, who works in the petrochemical industry, and frequently travels to the El Segundo Chevron refinery for work. The Harveys are waiting on assistance from their insurance company, and plan on moving to higher ground in Mississippi after their property has been cleaned up. “We been burning all this stuff for the last two weeks. It’s so contaminated, it ain’t good no more,” John says.

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John Harvey Jr., left, and his father, John Harvey, inventory their property, as required by their insurance provider. The Harveys have lived in their home for almost two decades. “Twenty years in this house, and they expect us to put everything on a list? We’ve been doing this for almost a month, and still don’t have everything.” The Harveys are waiting on their insurance to begin helping pick up the pieces after the storm.

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Mariana Ramirez, a recipient of aid from Manhattan Beach residents, helps her three-year-old daughter, Angie Ramirez, up the makeshift staircase to their temporary home. Ramirez lost everything in the storm, save a few important papers, and has seen an outpouring of support since the hurricane passed. “My sister’s neighbors gave us the fridge, a coworker gave us the stove. […] All the family got together to help us out.”

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Abraham Ramirez, 11 months old, looks out the window of his temporary home after the storm hit. Abraham’s mother, Mariana, rallied her family’s support to help her purchase the mobile home after she lost everything in the flooding. “We were living here without any power for a week and a half,” she said. “We kept on calling, asking when we would have it back.” The Ramirez family now has power and running water, and plans to relocate to a permanent home soon.

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Kevin Robles, who lives in a small community outside of Cleveland, ties his shoes after packing his backpack, both things he received off the trucks that drove from Manhattan Beach. Kevin is interested in video game design and photography, and his mother, Anabel Robles, hopes to send Kevin to college one day. Anabel emigrated from Mexico to the U. S. when she was 17 to give her children better lives. “Buildings fell down into the streets in Mexico.” she says in Spanish. “I walked here, and just worked. I didn’t study … Now I’m looking for an English class.”

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Anabel unpacks her daughter, Daisy’s backpack, donated by a Manhattan Beach family, as Daisy does her Spanish homework in the living room of their storm-damaged mobile home.

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Daisy Robles observes raindrops on her umbrella while wearing a backpack donated by Manhattan Beach families. Daisy’s mother and father, due to transportation and infrastructure issues, lost two weeks of work after the storm hit, and their home’s pipes were seriously damaged. The family was unable to pay their utility bills, and had to use the neighbor’s hose and buckets for water. Robles and his two children, Daisy and Kevin, received two backpacks and a few pairs of shoes. “The supplies we received really helped.” Robles says.

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Kevin Robles and his friend Melanie walk down their street to meet the school bus at 6:00 a.m. Hurricane Harvey struck an already strained school district. Students in the area wake up at 5:00 a.m. every day because buses are overflowing; the buses must run two separate trips — one at 6:00 a.m., and one at 7:00 a.m

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Raeann Bell, a single mother of two, cleans up her home after the storm while her son, Willard Bell, discusses a James Patterson book he’s reading. The Bells were relatively lucky when the storm hit. The water stopped at their front door, but because the streets were completely flooded, Raeann was unable to get to work for two weeks until the flooding subsided. “We had no stores available to go buy anything because nobody could get in or out of the city of Cleveland, which was the hardest part,” Raeann says of the storm. “We did a lot of ramen noodles, and it’s still real stressful. […] Getting the bills paid. That’s where it’s hurting the most right now.”

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Abraham Ramirez, 11 months old, looks out the window of his temporary home after the storm hit. Abraham’s mother, Mariana, rallied her family’s support to help her purchase the mobile home after she lost everything in the flooding. “We were living here without any power for a week and a half,” she said. “We kept on calling, asking when we would have it back.” The Ramirez family now has power and running water, and plans to relocate to a permanent home soon.

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Raeann and Willard Bell, left, and their housemate, Christiana Leedham, stand outside their Cleveland home.

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Bonnie Blett holds her dog, Poquito, while riding the elevator up to her third-floor hotel room a month after she lost her home to the flooding in Cleveland. “Seven feet of water ruins everything,” she says. Blett moved from Arizona to Cleveland two months before the storm hit, and plans on moving back. “It has been so, so devastating. […] Water is almost as bad as fire. It destroys just about everything it comes in contact with.” Blett didn’t have flood insurance, but FEMA funding is paying for her hotel room.

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Deynira Palacios, a Cleveland resident and recipient of aid from Manhattan Beach, puts the note she received from one of the backpacks on her refr igerator. “We love it. It’s something amazing that a girl can do this. She’s an angel to us.” she says of the note.

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