Selena Gomez Tears Up Talking About a Family Killed During Hurricane Harvey

Gomez grew up miles away from where the Saldivar family drowned.

Selena Gomez broke down in tears while telling the story of the Saldivar family, who drowned in the floods of Hurricane Harvey. Gomez appeared in a taped segment of the Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief (opens in new tab) on Tuesday night to raise money for those affected by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma, which has caused severe damage to Florida and the Caribbean.

Gomez told the devastating story of a man named Sammy Saldivar, whose family was killed during Harvey. The Saldivars lived near Grand Prairie, Texas, where Gomez grew up.

Here's Gomez's complete speech:

August 27th, seven members of the Saldivar family try to escape the rising floodwaters. Their van is swept into the bayou. Only Sammy Saldivar manages to survive. I come from Grand Prairie, about 250 miles away from the Saldivar's home. Their story affected all who heard it. And no matter who we are, the differences we have suddenly did not seem to matter. Since that day we have joined together—neighbor helping neighbor, without stopping to think about race, religion or anything else. Ricardo Saldivar has spoken out about his brother's escape and what happened to his beloved family. He said, "I know they went to heaven holding hands." And if we are going to get through all the storms that confront us, that's how we are going to do it—together, hand in hand.

The Washinton Post (opens in new tab) reported on the Saldivar family after the storm. Sammy, the paper reported, watched helplessly as his elderly parents and four great-grandnieces and grandnephews drowned after their van was swept into the rising bayou.


Water, Bathing, Waterway, Street, Road,

(Image credit: Archives)

"He was yelling at the kids to climb out of the back of the van; I'm sure they couldn't reach it," Sammy's brother Ricardo told The Post. "He could hear the kids screaming but couldn't push the doors open. That's what he keeps hearing in his head. And the van just went underwater and was gone."

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Kate Storey
Kate Storey

Kate Storey is a contributing editor at Marie Claire and writer-at-large at Esquire magazine, where she covers culture and politics. Kate's writing has appeared in ELLE, Harper's BAZAAR, Town & Country, and Cosmopolitan, and her first book comes out in summer 2023.