Bad weather happens everywhere. No place is immune to weather related destruction. I never experienced tornados as a kid, and I felt so badly for places that were struck with devastating tornados and hurricanes. One of the advantages of living in the hills of Kentucky, a long way from the coast and open flat land, was protection from such horrifying disasters. The most weather-related danger was flooding. This might sound silly, and it’s possible that my memory isn’t correct, but floods on Rockhouse Creek began and ended quickly. Another characteristic is how fast the currents were – the creek would turn into category 5 white-water with trailer debris whizzing along with the currents. I never took a flooding event seriously until trailers were zooming down the creek.
Fast-forward several years and I am living in an open flat-land coastal region. Basically Houston and the surrounding area is a swampy wet-land that has been developed into the 4th largest city in the nation. Because Houston is so spectacular (sincerely, it is a great place, ya’ll), there has been a huge boom in population and development. It seems these factors intensify flooding.
When we moved here in 2009, I was traveling home from work and almost didn’t make it to our house, because a portion of the neighborhood street was flooded. I didn’t realize how deep the water was – I thought it was just some minor street flooding. A huge Humvee-style vehicle stopped in front of me, and I barely managed to get around it. Luckily, I made it home and vowed to never be in that predicament again! There were a handful of similar events, one involving the entire family trying to make it to a Family Concert at the Houston Symphony and another trying to get back from the airport on the night of the “Memorial Day 2015” flood. Rachel still describes that as “the day our whole family almost died”! She is a little overdramatic on that one. That flood did test the levee system in our neighborhood. The very pretty baseball/soccer fields near the levees flooded, which is the intended purpose of such areas. Parks and ponds are designed to serve as collection points for overflow.
When Hurricane Harvey developed, I didn’t give much thought about flooding, etc. I thought we would deal with some leaky points in our attic (if you are interested, ask me about the time I rigged a series of buckets on a tarp to collect water during the “Tax Day flood” when Bryan was on-call) and possible school closures. Boy was I wrong.
I try not to panic about weather. Bryan is the total opposite of me, because he is “Mr. Prepared” regarding all things weather. Bryan and Rachel are the family meteorologists. On the way home from practice last Thursday, Rachel wanted to travel to Galveston to meet Jim Cantore – crazy kid! We stopped at the grocery store, and it was wiped clean of water, bread, and produce. I couldn’t believe that people had reacted so dramatically. The public schools cancelled school on Friday (before it even started raining). Geez! As Harvey began to make landfall somewhere near Corpus Christi, we started to get lots of rain. Then all heck broke loose!
The rain became very heavy and then we lost power, which is typical. It doesn’t take much for the power to blink or go out. I consider it a fairly low-grade inconvenience. Unfortunately, the power went out at just the time we were finally getting the older girls to bed. “AHHHHHH!!!! NOOOOOO!!!!! DADDY WHERE ARE YOU!!!” cries were followed by screaming that rivaled any scream queen. After hours of fighting over flash lights and where to sleep, the girls finally settled down. Bryan went upstairs to sleep on the futon to calm them down. Somehow Miriam slept through the storms AND her sister’s wailing.
Just as I was getting to sleep, our weather band radio (thanks Mom, the handiest Christmas present ever) started blaring along with all three cell phones. First it was tornado watches, which quickly changed to warnings. I checked our neighborhood Facebook page and neighbors were advising to shelter in place because tornados were “all over” the neighborhood. Bryan and I debated about dragging the girls to a closet. We left them in their beds while we stood alert waiting to snatch them downstairs. It was a long night.
Saturday was much calmer, although the destruction from the tornados was apparent. My running route was littered with huge trees and many homes were damaged. Our neighborhood was all over the local news! We hoped the worst was behind us, but no. Later that evening, intense storms returned. Again, I don’t know how, but Miriam slept through them! Rachel and Sarah were calmer but still excitable. About 10 pm, Bryan saw firetrucks go past our house. We found out that a lighting strike caused a small fire in the attic of a home across the street! Fortunately, the inhabitants were not injured and the home sustained mild damage. Another home, about 1 mile from our house, was also struck by lighting and caught on fire. From what I gather, no one was injured, and the home was saved. As all this was happening, our streets started to flood and the park across from our house filled with water. Fortunately, the water receded quickly and all was well.
I thought today was the day that we were turning the corner. NOPE! After a tense 48 hours, the rain had calmed, but Houston was underwater. We began to learn of friends from church and work that were dealing with flooding in their homes and possible loss of almost everything! All of the major road ways were completely underwater. The medical center where Bryan and I work was also underwater and is closed until at least Tuesday. On a selfish note, I am so thankful that Bryan is not on call. I might be pulling out my hair if he was part of an “essential staff” crew right now. On Friday, they began closing the flood gates at the medical center. These were put in place after Hurricane Allison (2001) caused incredible damage to the medical center. I had never seen the flood gates before, so of course I took pictures of them before I left work Friday evening.
I also would like to thank you all for your concern, thoughts, and prayers. We are really touched that our family and friends have reached out to check on us. I hadn’t posted a lot on Facebook, because I didn’t want to worry folks. I will say that the images on the national news and the weather channel are very bad and reflect so much devastation. For the moment, we have avoided such horrific circumstances. I think we will continue to deal with flooded streets and roads, but we are doing well. Everyone has been told to stay put, because it’s too dangerous to drive on flooded roads. After a not too steep learning curve regarding driving in Houston flood waters, I trust our officials on that advice. We are concerned about the levees and if the Brazos river will exceed the levee capacity of our neighborhood. All reports indicate that all will be ok. We are stressed and worried, as there have been rumors of the potential need to evacuate our neighborhood. If that happens, we will face it, deal with it, and will be fine. My issues seem very minimal compared to so many others (many of them are good friends) in the Houston metro area. If things take a turn, I promise to let immediate family know what’s happening and will subsequently post status updates on Facebook.