Sunday, August 27, 2017

Surviving the Storm: Harvey's Houston Impact

This post will be a little different than the usual post. If you look back, you'll see its be a little over a month since my last post. I took a break from my studio and projects to focus on the last of our summer bucket list items and then we started back to school madness with Teacher Meet and Greets, orientations for all of our activities and just as we settled into a routine, we looked forward to the Solar Eclipse which Lil Monkey's school and Cub Scout Pack would be doing activities for. What we were not expecting, and certainly not looking forward to was a front row seat to the ongoing Hurricane Harvey chaos, now a Tropical Storm.

The first 2 days, we caught the edges of it. I over planned and prepared, gathering supplies, moving furniture indoors and just generally planning to ride this out, even as Dear Husband calmly went about his daily work and such. But on Thursday when Lil Monkey's school was cancelled the following day and potentially Monday, I think he realized the reality of it hitting us. Not because he was thinking it was overrated, but because his new position has him working 12+ hours a day and he doesn't get to watch the news. But we were prepared. Thursday night, we tried several places before finding gas, he checked the generator and pulled it to an accessible location and pulled in the outdoor furniture that I couldn't get on my own. Then we settled in to wait.

I'm sort of a Storm Junkie. I love the science behind it, so watching the Weather Channel for hours at a time was not unusual, ans in addition to my preparations, I have gotten the supplies to start on a Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery project to keep me busy of we lost power. 

As we went to bed Friday night, Hurricane Harvey hurled its way across the Texas Coastline heading into communities 2-3 hours west of us. As a Category 4 Hurricane its wind strength and size were massive and we felt it. We got little sleep that night. But we awoke Saturday morning to calmer winds and the news that it has fallen to a Category 1 Hurricane. Most of the day Saturday was spent driving around locally in what looked like a sleepy little town waking up. Stores were open, people were sporadically out and about and the attitude was that we'd missed the worst of it. But I'd been watching and knew from forecasts we were just getting started.

Once it was downgraded to a Tropical Storm, many in our community on social media sites felt like it had been blown out of proportion, despite the Weather Services telling us we needed to brace for torrential rains that would leave many communities crippled. As darkness fell on Saturday night, we would begin to see just what those meteorologists were talking about.

The slow moving storm would dump more than 18-inches of water on our small community that sits halfway between Houston and Galveston. We didn't get much sleep last night either as well drained the pool, watched for flooding and listen to our phones buzz constantly with updates. Lil Monkey slept, but Dear Husband, Buster and I got minimal sleep. I packed snacked and water as well as blankets in an interior closet in the event that we got tornadoes. We got so many warnings. It seemed like as soon as one ended another started. They were all around us and Dear Husband was on constant watch from the South windows.

We awoke this morning to stories of members of our small community of 40,000 being stuck on roofs, stuck on second floors of their homes, water up to 12-feet in homes and lots of air and water rescues. 

We have received constant updates from our community leaders and the surge of community members helping each other has been nothing short of amazing. Volunteers bringing our boats to rescue others, dropping off boats for water rescues and so many people have stepped up to donate supplies as our schools were turned into the shelters because the sheer number of people needing help left our prepared shelters at capacity and strained.

The thing that no one tells you about living in a Mayberry-style community is that the concern goes beyond your personal world. I didn't expect to cry over the lost homes of people that I'd only met at community events or spoke with on community Facebook pages. Small community life becomes part of you and you hurt for those who are hurting.

So many people texted to check on us and we texted to check on so many. In the past all of those people would have been people we knew who were watching from the outside, like family, college friends, military friends. But today there were so many who reached out to check on us despite being in a devastating position themselves. It's a feeling you can't put into words.

It's not over. We've got a long ways to go. We are expected to have 2-3 more days of this and the recovery afterwards could be months, but Harvey is no match for this community and the hearts of these people will band together to overcome whatever this storm can throw at us.

Until later, stay safe Friendswood. Stay safe, Texas.

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