Hurricane Harvey Aftermath

 

 

The entrance into our subdivision

This was my first Texas hurricane.  I’ve only been through one other hurricane and that was many years ago when my children were toddlers and we lived inland off the SC coast.  There was NO flooding involved, just lots of wind.

Our neighbor to our left next to containment ditch

I won’t kid you…I’ve lost track of time and days but somewhere early in the Harvey ordeal, I thought I was going to die.  I remember calling my daughter on the East Coast in tears and feeling so hopeless.  We live in a one story home.  There is NO basement so no tangible place to retreat during tornado warnings.  One of the days, we had 155 tornado warnings.  I finally just went numb on those.  As far as the one-story, there was going to be only one place to go and that was on the roof.  I couldn’t imagine trying to climb onto our roof in the dead of night, in pouring rain, amidst tornado warnings.  Maybe 40 years ago I would have been more confident.  In my late sixties, I knew my limits.

Our home from across the street

One man interviewed on television summed up my feelings at that point exactly.  He said (and I paraphrase) that he felt like someone who has been condemned to hang at dawn and, as dawn approaches, just feels overwhelmed by the sense of dread and hopelessness.

I also felt angry.  Honestly, I was pissed.  I had wanted to evacuate to Dallas back on Thursday before all the craziness struck but my hubby wasn’t convinced it was necessary.  Maybe I’m one of those people who have etched on their tombstone, “I TOLD you I was sick.”  In my case, it would have been, “I TOLD you we should have evacuated.”

Cavalcade of craft on our street by subdivision

As the days progressed and Harvey hung over the greater-Houston area, I began to see ordinary people coming out to help with whatever tools they had at their disposal.  There were folks with Jon boats, kayaks, air boats, canoes, dump trucks, you name it.  I didn’t really see any of those on my street during the brunt of the storm but we did have a helicopter flying overhead.  I’m pretty confident that it would have lowered a basket if I had jumped up and down and waved my hands.  Our Houston mayor (who was pretty awesome during this) kept saying that they were opening shelters within walking distance of all those affected.  It wasn’t until AFTER Harvey moved on that we found out the shelter for our subdivision.  It just wasn’t announced.  That was a scary feeling – not knowing where you were supposed to go.

Home on our son’s street

Our son’s street started flooding and soon only his house and his father-in-law’s home were still water-free.  He texted us that he was moving the kids to the in-laws and helping other neighbors get to that house.  Later the entire street was under water and they had to be boated out.  They were taken to our church were they spent the rest of the storm and several days after until they could return to their neighborhood.  Thankfully, their two houses were still dry.

Flooded containment field

We live one house away from a huge containment field for Clear Creek.  It was that creek that flooded and put over half our town under water.  It quickly went over the banks of the big field and came down our street.  Soon the street was under water and it was inching down our front yard and sidewalk toward the house.

Water up to our stoop – already receding

The first real night of flooding, we were able to contact our next-door neighbor who owns a two-story house and he told us to come over and spend the night on their second floor.  That was such a Godsend, let me tell you.  I can’t say enough wonderful things about our neighbor and his family.  The second and worse night of flooding, George and I were to take shifts sleeping while monitoring the water outside.  I had the first shift and within less than two hours it had almost gotten over our front stoop.  At about 2 a.m. it was decided that I’d wade across to the neighbor’s home with the dog and spend the night at their house while George would stay at the house and see if he could keep the water at bay if it started to come inside.  I found the neighbors frantically moving furniture up higher and carrying pieces to the 2nd floor.  I spent the night in a chair upstairs with the dog on my lap and as soon as it was light enough, I headed home, not knowing what I’d find.  Water was about 8 feet from our garage which sits behind the house, the whole front yard was under water and it was surrounding our house on three sides.  Miraculously, the inside was dry.  As the rain slacked off, we could see that the  water had gotten to within just a few inches of coming in the front door.  If it had continued to rain that day, we would have been flooded.

Kayaking down our 6-lane road

Harvey moved on and we gradually saw the extent of the damage to our area.  We’d already seen plenty of misery on the TV (yup, we never really lost power or cable) but it is different seeing it in your own neighborhood.  Just around the block from us, the entire street flooded and I think all the homes have major damage.  Driving down the street is heart-wrenching seeing all the piles of furniture, drywall, and belongings sitting on the curb.  The other half of our subdivision had major flooding and they estimate about 75% of the homes were damaged.  Two of my knitting friends had to leave their homes as water rushed inside.

Shopping Center next to our street

When you meet friends and strangers now, the first question is inevitably, “How did you do in the storm?”  Everyone has shared this experience and it has made family of us all.

I’m so grateful to have been spared the flooding inside and to still be alive.  I’m achy and can’t sleep well at the moment.  I wake up in the night and think I hear rain outside.  We are all probably suffering from the effects of prolonged exposure to stress and some hurricane PTSD.

Our front yard

I can’t say enough about the wonderful acts of kindness by folks and the heroism of rescuers.  The military folks have really stepped up.  Who would have thought that we’d be excited to see tanks rolling into our town but hey, with Harvey as the enemy?  Have at it!

In my next post, I’ll talk about my “lessons learned” but for now, I’ll just leave you with this little tidbit to digest.  First they said it was a 1- in-500 year event.  Then they were announcing that it was a 1-in-800 year event.  Now the weathermen are saying it was a 1-in-40,000 year event.  All I know is that it was a heck of a storm and not one that I ever hope to go through again.  Give those you love a hug today.  Smile at a stranger.  And remember, life is so unpredictable.  Concentrate on the things that really matter.

 

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