I’ve hesitated to write about Hurricane Harvey so far, but so many people are asking about us that I wanted to share an update.
Hurricane Harvey: What You Don’t See on TV
On television you see the worst of the worst. And there is no getting around the fact that this is the worst disaster our city has ever seen.
You see the unimaginable flooding that blankets entire highways and neighborhoods. You see the dramatic rescues and the heroes that sprung to action as the storm still tormented the city.
What you don’t see is the uncertainty and the fear that remains.
The families and friends separated by lakes and rivers that shouldn’t be here, unable to get to each other.
Every time the rain starts again, my body is filled with panic.
Yesterday we almost lost everything
Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Friday night. Saturday went by with almost no rain. It was difficult not to be lured into a false sense of security.
Facebook asked me over and over, “Stacey, your friends want to know if you’re safe,” prompting me to check-in as “safe” from Hurricane Harvey. But I hesitated to mark myself as safe with days of rain and flooding to go.
I didn’t feel safe.
Maybe we weren’t safe.
At lunchtime on Sunday, the rain began to pour in earnest and the waters began to rise on our street.
Faster than we’ve ever seen.
I was right. We are not safe yet. No one is safe yet.
With no sign of relief from the torrential rain, we scrambled to protect our house.
My husband made sandbags from trash bags and our girls’ sandboxes. When we ran out of sand he used wet towels stuffed into the trash bags.
Meanwhile I ran (literally) around our house throwing belongings onto the couches, beds, shelves, or wherever I could find space. I rolled up rugs and tied up curtains. I boxed up records, documents, and photos. I unplugged electronics.
As the water lapped at our front porch, I mentally steeled myself to lose everything. I told myself that they are “just things” and we need new couches anyways. I put on a smile for my three year old and told her we were having a pick-up party.
My dad called and told me that if we needed to leave, we would have to call 911 to come rescue us.
With our entire neighborhood underwater up to the foundations of our homes, it was beginning to feel real.
The floodwaters receded late last night, but they may return
Our neighborhood is at the mercy of the authorities who release pressure from a dam to the north of us.
Yesterday they released water at record rates.
Yesterday we came within inches of losing our home.
But we didn’t.
I’ve seen so many of my friends evacuated from their homes. They lost everything.
I live in the same city and can’t help.
I’ve spent the last few days in a constant state of near-panic, yet I feel like my fear and my worry is not even justified, because so far we are the lucky ones.
As I write this, we’ve only had minor water damage. Water seeped in through our floor near the back door and dripped from a leak in the ceiling. Both are manageable.
All we can do is pray that it doesn’t get worse again.
What I can’t explain…
I think what is hardest to describe to those watching from the outside is the constant state of emotion.
At one moment I am in complete fear that our family will need to be evacuated from our home.
When we are out of immediate danger, I am filled with worry and sadness for the friends I can’t help.
And then the rest of the time, I am so overwhelmed that I sit in a stupor and stare at the endless newsfeed on local television. Watching the city that I love brought to its knees. And I can’t help because we ourselves are not out of danger.
I’ve lived through two hurricanes before, but this is different. This is the disaster that won’t end.
What you can do to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey
Even though our family and home are still under threat of flooding, I want more than anything to be able to help my friends that are worse off than us.
I’m sure you do too.
If you don’t have a huge truck or a boat, you probably can’t physically help yet. But you can donate to those who put people and supplies on the ground. The Red Cross is a good place to start. (Be on the lookout for opportunists trying to scam donations and stick with charities and organizations you know and trust).
Keep checking in with your family and friends.
You might feel like a bother, but you’re not. We might not answer right away, but it’s only because we are busy or feeling overwhelmed. We might not be able to talk, but I promise that we read your messages.
In a disaster that almost doesn’t seem like real life, a kind word bolsters our spirits. And sometimes that’s all we’ve got to go on.
As I write this, the rain has started again
A flash flood warning just went off on my phone.
My heart is filled with dread again.
Back to work, back to praying, and back to waiting.
Still not safe.
Please keep Houstonians and Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey in your thoughts and prayers. We need all of the help we can get and we are grateful.