Houston, We Have a Problem

Panic began to set in on August 24th. News outlets began to bombard the airwaves with reports that Tropical Storm Harvey was set to become a monster hurricane.

You can read about the storm on just about any news outlet but here is a link to The New York Times.

As a born and bred Gulf Coast resident I am all too familiar with hurricanes and their power. However, with that familiarity comes a bit of skepticism that a major hurricane will blow our way.

After all, we hear non-stop year after year during hurricane season that one could possibly come our way, but then it never does.

Allison, Rita and Ike made a mark on Texans. One that is still felt to this day. Those affected picked up the pieces and moved forward with their lives. Living on the coast, you take the good with the bad.

Then comes Hurricane Harvey. Reminding every one of the worst that could happen. By the middle of the week when Harvey was to arrive, there was still skepticism in the air causing people to delay on getting supplies. The very same supplies we knew we needed to stock up on at the very beginning of Hurricane season.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

The day when people began pouring into the stores to buy non perishable food. I am one who waited till the last-minute and was in a long line. I definitely learned my lesson.

While waiting I overheard this conversation:

Man number one: “I need my Blue Bell.”

Man number two laughs: “What are you gonna do with it when the power goes out?”

Man number one: “I’m gonna eat up right then and there but at least I have it!”

Comical moment but the reality was that none of us knew what was going to happen. We never dreamed melted ice cream would be the least of our worries. We never imagined it would get as bad as it did.

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Empty bread shelves.
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This was the middle of the line. I jumped in towards the back near the dairy cases. 

Friday August 25, 2017

Hurricane Harvey made landfall north of Corpus Christi Friday night. It came ashore as a massive Category Four hurricane. This is not entirely surprising. The kids and I went to the beach the weekend before and the water was further from the shore and very warm.

Warm Gulf water is the main ingredient in fueling a hurricane. What was so unusual about this hurricane was that it would be caught between to weather systems. Now, I’m no meteorologist but that sounded like a very bad thing.

A rainmaker such as Harvey was going to be stalled because it couldn’t move. That meant massive amounts of rain would be dumped on a city that floods very easily.

Houstonians experienced Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 and we got soaked. The storm caused 9 Billion dollars worth of damage and killed 55 people. No one wanted that to ever happen again. Yet, here we were at the mercy of Harvey.

Into the night…

There is something that happens to your body when you’re on guard constantly. You get anxious, almost borderline paranoid. Our phones were blowing up with tornado alarms almost twice an hour. We couldn’t sleep, we couldn’t eat. The only we could do was keep an eye on this storm and hope things wouldn’t get any worse.

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The kids and I placed a jar outside to see how much water we could collect. In five hours this is what we collected. I realize the ruler is upside down. As soon as I snapped the first photo the power went out. Then just as fast it came back on so I quickly snapped it. 

 

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As you can see from this little guy’s face he was so over the storm.
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My cat is 17 years old. The only thing that bothered her through the storm was whether I fed her on time or not.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

By this time we’re super exhausted but thankful the water had not risen near our front door. We did not dare venture out because it was still storming. We collected another container of water and this time the pitcher filled up in just three hours.

Massive amounts of rain was falling and the sky was gray to black all day. The news was reporting homes that were being flooded and multiple rescues and evacuations were taking place. I packed a very small bag with a change of clothes for the kids in case we needed to dash out of the door. It was a scary feeling.

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This pitcher was filled to the top within three hours. I had to pour water off so it wouldn’t spill.

Sunday August 27, 2017 through August 29, 2017

Things started to improve on our side. Many neighborhoods around us, particularly close to the Brazos river were evacuated and many were placed in shelters or homes of friends. We seemed to be in a pocket where we had street flooding but were spared water in our homes. Several of our friends had water three feet or more in their homes.

It was such a sad sight but their positive attitudes helped me to feel motivated to assist them and anyone else who needed help.

I have video posted on my Instagram account of the flooding near my home.

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Aftermath in Stafford Texas. The water had subsided. You can still see Harvey in the sky. 
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We didn’t see the Sun for days and on the 29th a break in the clouds revealed it. It was the most beautiful thing we had seen. 

 


Within the past few days the world has had their eyes on Texas and boy we did not disappoint.

In a city as big as Houston there often isn’t time or desire, in some cases, to stop and talk with your neighbor. Everyone has their nose in a phone or are running late somewhere. Often you can go to a store or outing and never speak once to a stranger.

On the flip side southern hospitality exists and Texans are so good at it. Think of it this way, in some families they may go weeks without talking but as soon as something major happens or someone is sick, the family will band together and take care of each other.

That’s sort of what Houston is like.

First responders, prominent people in business and everyday people came out and showed the greatest love they could in helping each other. It really was a beautiful thing. We had to participate in some way especially since we went unaffected materially.

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The kids wanted to give away the toys they don’t play with. They reasoned that they wouldn’t someone elses trash so they sent used toys that were in good condition. Our donations went to Rockport Texas which was hit the hardest by Harvey.

Houston is still working through the mess and people are still being evacuated because of rising water. Many parts of the city are still under water.

To see photos of the aftermath The Houston Chronicle has a slide show you can view. The cover photo was also taken from The Houston Chronicle website.

Some stats on Hurricane Harvey from various news outlets:

  • 50 inches of rain fell. That is how much rain Houston receives in one year
  • Estimated damage is 180 Billion dollars
  • 19 trillion gallons of water dropped over southeast texas
  • More than 30,000 people displaced
  • The death toll is at 30 people

If you can donate to a trusted charity or send supplies to Texas, those affected would be greatly appreciative.

Some people have opinions about everything. Including what we all should have or should not have done with this storm. As devastating as this storm was Texans will rebuild. We will build more thoughtfully and prepare better in the future.

I’ve been told that perhaps we should move. How could I? There is something about looking out on the Gulf as you stand at the shore. You respect its power but also soak in its peace.

As I mentioned earlier, life on the Gulf means you take the good with the bad and you share it all with your fellow Texans.

 

 

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