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What NOT to Say to a Katy Flood Victim: Advice from Someone Who Has Been There


September 8, 2017

Meagan Clanahan

Photo by John Glaser

Our hearts are in the right place, but please choose your words carefully.

Many of us are consoling countless neighbors and friends whose homes and possessions were damaged or completely lost in Hurricane Harvey. Most everyone's hearts are in the right place, but please consider your words carefully when you are speaking to flood victims who have lost their livelihood. They are living a nightmare right now and you can either help them or hurt them at this critical time in their lives.


"It's just stuff." Well, yes. It IS just stuff. But right now, in this time, it's very real STUFF. The processing of that comes later.

"God never gives you more than you can handle." It's not biblical. There are times when it IS more than you can handle - and that's when our dependence on Him is the greatest.

"You are strong, you will get through." Not comforting when the last thing you feel is strong.

"It could have been worse." Nope. Not today. Today could be someone's actual worst day.

"Let me know how I can help!" It sounds okay but offer tangible help. How about say, "Monday, I can drop off a meal for you. What sounds good to you?"

"You should have _____ fill in the blank". You should have put stuff up higher, you should have evacuated. You should have gotten flood insurance. The shoulda/woulda/coulda's - not particularly helpful. Believe me, that has already run through their minds multiple times.

There are so many others I could add. I think the best things you can say are just simply the simplest.



  • "I am so sorry you are walking through this. I am praying for you."

  • "I am a listening ear and here to help when you are ready." {then offer specifics of how you can help}.

Hope IS coming. I believe that. But understand your friends are walking a very, very real line of grief. Please choose your words carefully.

MEAGAN CLANAHAN lost her home and possessions in Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and moved to Houston as a result.

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