It's 2am and little Gaby Guzman is crying in a boat next to her six family members and the rescuers who helped them flee their flood-ravaged Houston home.

The expat Kiwis are escaping the wrath of Hurricane Harvey.​

But, all Gaby wants is her teddy Emily who remains inside her flooded home.

"She said 'but Mummy Emily's scared, she doesn't like to get wet' - she was really talking about herself," family friend and fellow New Zealand expat Fleur Wiig, told the Herald.


Hours earlier Gaby's father Blad Guzman posted a plea for help on Facebook asking for anyone in the area to come to the aid of his young family and three visiting relatives. The family were stuck inside their Canyon Gate property by rapidly rising water.

When help arrived about 2am on Wednesday the waters were waist-deep - and Guzman, his wife Lina, their children Santiago, 7, and Gaby, 3, his elderly parents and Guzman's son from a previous relationship Felipe, who was holidaying from the UK, were forced to leave with only a change of clothes for the children and their passports.

Wiig said the family did the best they could to prepare for the hurricane by moving downstairs furniture about 1m off the ground, but didn't anticipate how bad the flooding would be.

"No one could've really have foreseen that it was going to flood so badly and so quickly and when it starts to flood - you're really in a precarious position."

It was unclear whether anything in the house or the building itself would be salvageable once the flood waters receded and the Guzmans had been told by authorities they would be unable to return for at least a month, Wiig said.

She told the Herald the Guzmans' insurance policy did not cover flood damage and any payment they received from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would likely be well below the cost to repair the home which could easily reach hundreds of thousands of US dollars.

The floodwaters inside the Guzmans' Houston home. Photo / Go Fund Me
The floodwaters inside the Guzmans' Houston home. Photo / Go Fund Me
An aerial view of the flooding inside the Guzmans' Houston home. Photo / Go Fund Me
An aerial view of the flooding inside the Guzmans' Houston home. Photo / Go Fund Me

Originally from Columbia, Blad and Lina Guzman moved to Christchurch in 2004 for Blad's job at Tait Electronics.

Wiig's husband Hamish also worked for the company and the couples became good friends quickly after meeting.


Both families emigrated to Houston around the same time in 2011 after the Christchurch earthquakes.

She said the Guzmans had obtained New Zealand citizenship while living in Christchurch and were proud Kiwis - Santi was also born in New Zealand.

The Guzmans were going through mixed emotions - "paralysed" at times by the situation they were in and then at other moments were incredibly busy dealing with things like calling the power company to disconnect the home's power.

"[They're] very traumatised - in shock, but in some ways stoic, humbled, overwhelmed with people's generosity," Wiig said.

The children were confused by what had happened and also traumatised after having to evacuate in the middle of the night.

The family were staying with other friends from Christchurch - Jenny and Steve Cragg - Wiig said, and although the community of Kiwi expats were rallying around them, their financial future was still uncertain.

Wiig had set up a Go Fund Me page to raise money for the family.

The funds would go towards replacing the contents of their home and - if the property was salvageable - repairing it.

If the house couldn't be saved the money would be used to help them find other accommodation.

How you can help

Anyone wanting to contribute to the fundraising campaign for the Guzmans should visit their Go Fund Me page here