Hurricane Harvey was the "Worst House Guest Ever!"
Video: Our Experience with Hurricane Harvey in Houston
First and foremost: We are fine. Our home is fine. Our family is safe! Thank You to everyone who has reached out to check on us. We'd like to share our experience with Hurricane Harvey, what we are seeing first-hand, and how folks can help if they would like to. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
The Week Started With an Eclipse and Ended With a Flood!
August 20 - 23, 2017, we were camping at Palmetto State Park for the first time, hiking, relaxing, meeting other RVers, taking in the eclipse and filming video for our YouTube channel. On August 22nd, Paul Van Doorne commented on one of our posts to let us know that Tropical Storm Harvey was scheduled to hit the Texas Coast on Friday. (Thanks again, Paul!) We returned to our sticks-and-bricks home in Richmond TX (far west Houston) on August 23rd and starting preparing for the approaching storm.
We were good on supplies. As Native Houstonians, we know to always stay prepared during Hurricane season just in case. But we moved our battery operated lanterns and outdoor cooking equipment from the RV to our house and secured all of our patio furniture. We filled our vehicles up with gas. Tom's parents moved into a senior apartment community earlier this year and live on the 11th floor. Their building is well equipped with emergency generators and such so we were confident they'd be safe in their apartment, but we made sure they had everything they would need to ride out the storm. Stacie's dad passed away several years ago and, even though her mom's house had never flooded, it lost electricity for quite a while during Hurricane Ike so we picked her and her cat up on Friday so they could stay with us. We checked on all of our other family in the area and hunkered down to await Harvey's arrival.
Being on the far west side of Houston, we are confident in our area being able to weather storms. Hurricanes and Tropical Storms bring high winds and heavy rain our way, but we are far enough inland that we don't have to worry about storm surges which can be one of the most damaging aspects of one of these storms. Houston is the "Bayou City" and over our lives we've seen the city deal with floods including Tropical Storm Allison which parked itself over us for days. That storm caused significant flooding across the city, including Downtown Houston, the Museum District and the Texas Medical Center. Quite a few neighborhoods experienced rising water thanks to Allison, and to be completely honest, we really felt like that was the worst flooding this area could ever expect to see. We were wrong.
"We just don't know exactly how this is going to play out because it's never happened before." -- Jeff Lindner, Meteorologist, Harris County Flood Control District
Once Hurricane Harvey (now a Category 4 Hurricane) began his arrival on Friday August 25th, days and nights began to run together. Harvey made landfall initially between us and Corpus Christi, making a direct hit on the areas around Rockport and Port Aransas TX. That put the Houston Metro area on the "dirty side" of the storm, meaning we were in the region that would receive a lot of rain. Remember what I said about Tropical Storm Allison parking on top of us for days? Well I guess Harvey decided he didn't want to be beat out by a woman, so he not only sat on us, he dumped on us! Our phone alerts blared constantly for at least 72 hours with tornado and flash flood warnings. The latest rainfall totals we've seen for our area for Friday, August 25 through Tuesday, August 29th equals 52 inches! Meteorologists have reported that this is an all-time record for the continental United States.
We went into this storm expecting 20-30 inches of rain. We got 52 inches!
So what does this mean for the Texas Coast?
I'm sure by now, you are tired of seeing the reports. I know everyone here is Harvey fatigued. But the truth of the matter is this: thousands of homes and businesses flooded, areas who have never even seen a glimpse of rising water ended up with several feet of water inside. Countless masses of people and pets had to be rescued by boat, military vehicle, dump truck or helicopter. Rivers, creeks, bayous rose and caused additional flooding. Reservoirs reached capacity and had to be relieved by releasing water from the dams which flooded even more neighborhoods.
Everyone in our neighborhood was incredibly lucky. Despite taking in 52 inches of rain, not a single home in our neighborhood flooded. After all of this is said and done, we need to throw a BBQ for the drainage engineers who designed our community because as our friend "ThatOutdoorGuy4Real" so aptly stated on Instagram, "HOW you can design ANYTHING that can handle THAT MUCH water in such a short time seems Einsteinian to me!" We are amazed and obviously incredibly thankful!
OK, You've Heard the Bad News. Here's the Good News...
This storm has literally devastated entire communities from Corpus Christi up through Houston, over into Central Texas in the areas of Columbus and La Grange, east to Beaumont/Port Arthur, into Louisiana and north from there. It will take days, weeks, months, and potentially years for some communities and neighborhoods to completely recover. BUT, that is only the beginning of the story. Here's the shiny silver lining...
"The most difficult times bring out the best in humanity." -- JJ Watt, #99 Houston Texans
People's response to this devastating storm has been nothing short of incredible! Neighbors helping neighbors, complete strangers opening their homes to house and feed folks they've never met but who have lost their homes to the storm. People have come in from all across Texas, the United States, Mexico and Canada to help! The National Guard, the Coast Guard, Police Officers and Firemen from everywhere have come to help. Citizens with boats and large trucks have driven here to go into the flooded neighborhoods and help evacuate people who are stranded in their homes. Others have collected cleaning supplies, clothes, food, diapers, toiletries to ship down here to assist in recovery. Still others are donating funds to charities.
Just as we have never seen a storm like Harvey, we have never seen such an overwhelming outpouring of love, generosity and support. Everyone is working together to help friends, family and folks they've never met. Complete strangers are becoming family in the process. It is truly amazing. There is no way we can adequately describe what it is like to witness this chain of events first hand. And no matter how many times we say Thank You, it will never be enough.
Folks across the country (including our friend Tim in California) have asked us to provide a list of local charities that are assisting in recovery efforts. Over the past several days we've been busy doing what we can to help folks. We were thrilled to be able to jump in on a supply drive that we stumbled upon, we've been helping Tom's sister and brother-in-law tear out their flooded home and we (along with several of our amazing neighbors) are washing every article of clothing and linen that we pulled out of their house in an effort to save what we can. Tom's parents' home (which was empty and for sale) sits flooded for the first time ever despite having been there for over 50 years. It may be weeks before the bayou waters drop enough for us to access it. We, like everyone else here, are just doing whatever we can to try to help. If you would like to join in, here are a few organizations to consider. This is certainly not an exhaustive list. There are many other organizations out there contributing. Please do your research before you donate.