Harvey: A fatherhood memory one HCC employee will never forget

Sep 11, 2017

Sherman childSeptember 7 was a date Sherman Harness and his wife, Wintana, were eagerly awaiting. Their first baby would be arriving on that day and the couple had made preparations to accommodate their work and other commitments for the eventful occasion.

What Sherman, who is a senior analyst at the Houston Community College IT Department did not know, was that Mother Nature had different plans. Their precious baby girl would arrive early. To be precise nine days early and in the middle of circumstances that Sherman now finds hard to believe.

In the early hours of Tuesday, Aug. 29, Wintana was having the first signs of labor.  The wind was punishing and the rain was incessant. Hurricane Harvey, one of the most devastating natural disasters to hit Houston in recent history, was raging at full force.

“Wintana’s water broke at 5:00 a.m.,” Sherman said. “Since I have a sports utility vehicle, I intended to drive to the hospital but she convinced me not to do so. “

Her mother’s instinct was right.

The storm was drowning several parts of the Houston metropolitan area in up to 51 inches of rain. The roads in Sherman’s neighborhood located in the west part of the city, looked more like rivers.

“Our vehicle would have been flooded. We would not have made it. That’s when we called 911,” Sherman said.

For the next 30 minutes, the operator at the emergency center verbally held Wintana’s hand, talking to her and giving her instructions on how to do breathing exercises hoping it would delay the baby’s birth.

“They kept her on the phone,” Sherman remembered. “I think they were taking their time because they knew the conditions were bad out there and they really didn’t know when the ambulance would arrive. They did not want her to panic.”

When someone knocked at their door and they saw the lights, surprise. It was not a paramedic but the driver of a dump truck.

“So, in the middle of the wind and rain, there is my wife pregnant, about to give birth and jumping on a dump truck,” Sherman proudly shared.

The extreme weather called for unique problem solving and since the ambulance was not able to enter the neighborhood due to high water, they asked for help from the driver of the dump truck.  

For any couple, the situation would have been unnerving, but for Sherman and Wintana, it was the opposite.

“It is kind of funny. Because we had seen so much news coverage on television, I guess we expected a lot worse,” Sherman recalled. “We felt that we were in good hands, and we were going where we needed to be.”

Where they went was Houston Methodist West Hospital. They arrived two hours after they first called 911 and Baby Eden Jasmine Harness arrived an hour and 15 minutes later.

How is Sherman going to narrate to his daughter her dramatic arrival into the world

“I will tell her that she was born during a hurricane and that we had to be rescued to get to the hospital,” Sherman chuckled as he describes it as an experience he will never forget.

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