Thursday Thoughts: Hurricane Harvey

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Today marks day seven of our evacuation from Hurricane Harvey.

Early last week I first heard about “Harvey” when my brother sent me a text warning us that Houston was likely going to be hit with some heavy rain - an estimated 15 to 20 inches. He knows I’m not great at keeping up with the news, and wanted to make sure I knew what was coming. At that time I thought, about the typical tropical storm checklist: flashlights, extra batteries, pop tarts, and water. Just the basics (yes, pop tarts are basic hurricane food) to make sure we’d have a little “insurance” in case we went without power for a few hours.

Whether you’ve seen it on the news, or in your own backyard, you’ve seen it. The Bayou City has been devastated by the torrential downpours it received this week. It’s estimated that Houston took on a record breaking 43 inches of rainfall from Harvey - that’s three and a half feet folks. Although Houston is getting most of the media attention, it wasn’t the area hit the hardest. Cedar Bayou recorded more than 48 inches, and as I type, Beaumont has taken 47 inches… and it’s still raining.

Being from New Orleans, I’m familiar with hurricanes - a little too familiar. I understand how much destruction can come from the power of wind and rain, and I’ve developed a healthy fear of Mother Nature over the years. The last time I was so directly affected by a hurricane was almost exactly twelve years ago with Hurricane Katrina, which changed my life. At the time of Katrina, I had just graduated college, and I was living in Jackson, MS. My entire family evacuated to my little apartment, and when Katrina rolled in, life as I knew it rolled out. Though my family was among the lucky ones, we were still gravely affected, and eighteen months later I moved to Texas. (Now that I think of it, I was never able to spend another night in my childhood home.)

Now, in the wake of Harvey, I’m able to take a deep breath - we were spared. I feel indescribably grateful that when the waters recede, we’ll have a home to go back to. Grateful that my children’s experience with this storm is limited to an impromptu family vacation with their grandparents. Grateful to have our dogs safely sleeping at my feet.

Grateful, grateful, grateful… and, yet, so sad.

This massive storm was one big worst case scenario, a living nightmare, and I’m grieving too. My heart breaks for the families who had to be rescued from their flooded homes, the schools unable to reopen, businesses in shambles… for everyone affected and left wondering “How?” and “Why?” Across this great state, there have been so many wonderful relief efforts, “Texans helping Texans,” and people have come out of the woodwork to help rescue and relieve their neighbors. Seeing the generosity of our citizens pouring into each other is probably the most positive message of hope I’ve ever witnessed.

If you’re looking to donate or assist in any way, here’s a quick reference list: