Devy Saldivar, just 16, was known to friends for her beautiful smile and her happy personality. However, that all changed with Hurricane Harvey powering toward the Texas coast.
The teen is feared to have died in the flooding, family members told KHOU-TV, although authorities have not yet confirmed the family accounts. She had written about her anxiety over the storm on Facebook and Twitter.
Tragically, authorities announced on August 30 that they had found the family’s van and could see bodies inside of it. Divers were working to extricate the vehicle and bodies and fully see inside of it.
Five other members of Devy’s family – including two children and another teenager – are feared dead in the floodwaters of Tropical Storm Harvey, according to KHOU-TV. The AP also reported that six members of a Houston family were feared dead in the storm but did not name them, and Buzzfeed also reported, via a family member, that the Saldivar family is feared dead. Loved ones took to social media to seek word of the family before it was reported that relatives said they had died.
KHOU-TV reported that the family had drowned “in a van on Sunday, August 27, 2017” and named the victims as Manuel Saldivar, 84, his wife Belia, 81, and their great-grandchildren, Daisy Saldivar, 6, Xavier Saldivar, 8, Dominique Saldivar, 14, and Devy Saldivar, 16. Authorities had not yet confirmed the account, which KHOU said was verified by three family members. A family member also confirmed the tragedy to Buzzfeed.
A friend wrote on Devy’s Facebook page: “Rip sweet angel. You were such a sweet loving girl. Sophomore year, third period sitting behind you always helping me out when I asked you how to do something you helped, freshman volleyball was such a fun experience with you too darling but god needed new angels and he decided he needed you and your family. My condolences to everyone suffering from this. We love you devy, sweet dreams love.”
Houston police Chief Art Acevedo told the AP, though, that he had no information about the report by KHOU-TV but was “really worried about how many bodies we’re going to find” from the Houston flooding, which stemmed from a storm deemed “catastrophic” and unprecedented by the National Weather Service. It may dump as much as 50 inches of rain on Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city.
In a series of now heart-breaking tweets, Devy Saldivar expressed fear and anxiety about the Hurricane. On August 27, she tweeted, “Don’t want to sleep but I’m so tired.”
That same day she wrote on Facebook at about 5:30 a.m.: “no sleep & anxiety , please let this pass sooner.” She also shared a Facebook post in which a man implored, “pray for Houston.”
On August 26, she saved a pair of kittens she found under her car.
In the midst of it all, she took time to post about the Floyd Mayweather fight. Her page says she went to Pasadena High School (Pasadena, Texas), lived in Houston, Texas, and was from Houston.
She responded to a tweet from a person expressing anxiety to say, “Same man my friends are helping me calm down tho I appreciate them so much.”
Chillingly, she wrote that same day, “Almost died trying to bring a ladder back to my house from my grandparents house , wow.” She added, “And this is only the first day of it.”
On August 26, she wrote, “Staying inside.”
On August 25, she urged friends to stay safe, writing, “??? – JUST KNOW THAT I LOVE YOU AND I HOPE YOU STAY SAFE DURING HARVEY HOPEFULLY YOULL BE OKAY ??.” She also wrote: “It’s a category 4 hurricane now , geez.”
She retweeted this:
She shared the same photo on Facebook with the caption, “I ain’t scared of no hercane ” LMAOOOO.”
She retweeted a satellite comparison of Hurricanes Harvey and Katrina and a GIF expressing anxiety about Harvey.
The Associated Press also wrote on August 28: “BREAKING: Report: 6 family members feared dead when van swept away while trying to escape Harvey floodwaters.” The AP did not name the family members in its initial report.
According to the KHOU-TV report, the “victims include four children (all 16 or younger) and their great-grandparents. The driver of the vehicle (the children’s great-uncle) managed to escape before the van went under water.”
The television station reported that “the van was driving down Green River Road in Greens Bayou when it hit high floods after crossing a bridge. This caused the the van to be swept up in the current, and the driver then crawled out and told the children inside to try and get out through the back door. They were unable to do so.” The driver escaped by hanging onto a tree, KHOU-TV reported, adding that no bodies were recovered and first responders were “in the area” but didn’t have time to rescue the family.
Buzzfeed spoke to Ashley Hiser-Jackson, a relative who lives in California and who said: “They haven’t located the bodies but from what my aunt has said the car is still in the water. I don’t know if the uncle who went to go get them saw the van get swept away. But where the vehicle is, there’s no way to get to it unfortunately.”
A GoFundMe page was set up to help the remaining family members. “As all of Houston is aware of the devastation around us, let us be aware of a particular sadness- the passing of 4 children due to Hurricane Harvey. Devy (16), Dominic (14), Xavier (8) and Daisy (6) Saldivar have all been called home,” the post reads.
“I’ve known Virginia Saldivar for 6 years, and if anyone knows her OR her family, they know how precious they are all to each other. The Saldivar’s are seeking prayers and assistance in this awful time. The time and date of memorials are unknown at this time. Please cover this family in prayers, and, if able, monetary donations. Please share this message and help love on this family.”
Virginia Saldivar also posted her own plea for help on Facebook on August 28, writing, “If anyone has a boat that can come rescue us on Talton St please come. This is getting so scary with the water rising.” The woman who created the GoFundMe site wrote that Virginia is the children’s grandmother.