This is not a detailed chronicle of Hurricane Harvey with specific times, dates, and names. Rather, it is just a record of my observations while sitting in my house in West Harris County, TX.
As I write this (Saturday – Monday), Houston is a massive lake. The usual places have flooded, but even neighborhoods that have never before flooded are now under water. I am fortunate to live in the county, not the city, and the houses in my neighborhood are a couple of feet higher than the street, so no water in the house. Oh sure, the street floods when a band of storms dumps a massive amount of water, but drains quickly during lulls in the action. According to my rain gauge, my backyard has received about twenty inches as of Sunday night. We have also not lost electricity, and that is a great blessing.
To evacuate, or not to evacuate? That was the question. Governor Abbott told reporters on Friday that if he lived in Houston, he’d be evacuating. Of course, that rankled the pride of Houston mayor, Sylvester Turner, who immediately assured us there was no need to evacuate. There was every reason to evacuate, in my opinion. Yet, one must keep in mind that Houston and Harris County are home to around four million people or more, and to put that many people on the road in a short period of time would have been equally disastrous. Even our county judge said in a news conference he did not want thousands of people jamming the roadways on the edge of a disaster. Remember what happened during our last hurricane evacuation where people got stuck on the freeways and were caught by the hurricane?
Saturday was spent with incessant rain, street flooding, tornado and flash flood warnings. The deluge continued into Sunday morning, completely flooding much of Houston. The morning news contained videos of drivers trapped on expressways, flooded feeder roads, flooded neighborhoods, thousands without power. The studios of TV station KHOU flooded for the first time ever and went off the air until Sunday.
Sunday brought the peak of flooding. I awoke to TV reports of Coast Guard helicopter rescues, and the activation of the “Cajun Navy”. County Judge Emmett issued a call for owners of flat-bottomed boats to assemble at Greyhound Park to assist in rescue operations. A dumb reporter asked if boat owners needed to register their boats first. The Judge said to forget all that; just get to the park with a boat. Rescue operations into neighborhoods have continued uninterrupted on into Monday. The Coast Guard, Houston FD and PD, National Guard, and ordinary citizens are all involved. The city has pulled together. This is what Texans do. My church services were canceled, but our pastor led morning prayer through FB Live. That was an encouragement to be able to focus on the Lord for an hour.
Overnight Sunday into Monday: Massive amounts of rain. Water came up to my house and washed away part of a flower bed, but did not enter my car or house. Neighborhoods in Katy (West of Houston) and Cypress (Northwest of Houston) began to flood. The creeks and bayous are peaking and overflowing. Controlled releases from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs made by the Army Corps of Engineers to relieve pressure on the dams, were accomplished. All this water will flow through Houston, through bayous swollen to the size of small rivers. The 911 system has been overwhelmed, and the city and county issued other numbers to call for help. Interestingly enough, TV stations and reporters are getting texts and calls for help. Many of the rescue boats have a reporter in them who is directing to boats to where they’re needed. If not for these reporters, many folks would be bypassed. It’s quite interesting. The flood coverage by all stations has been exceptional.
Monday afternoon: Rains seem to be a bit lighter in the West, but flood dangers will exist for several days. I would say Houston and Harris County are a mess, with a few pockets where people were spared the worst. Most school districts are closed for the week, including the one in my area. Officials are calling this a once-in-a-lifetime flood event and admit they are winging it as we pass through uncharted territory. Still, I think the county, city, and citizens are doing a great job under the circumstances, and much will be learned through this event. We’ll see what happens over the next few days as the storm finally passes and cleanup begins.
Some personal observations off the top of my head:
1. Trust in the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart for all your needs.
2. If you want to evacuate, do so if it can be safely done. Don’t wait for some government official to tell you to do so at the last minute. Leave before the rush. Better to leave and have nothing happen at home than to hang around and drown.
3. Don’t wait until a disaster is at the door to stock up emergency supplies. I’m no great prepper, but I maintain a pantry full of canned goods, dry goods, and survival foods to get me through couple of months.
4. Don’t forget your pets. Keep their supplies stocked up as well. If things get bad, you may have to eat the critters. (Just kidding.) Have a plan for evacuating them, too.
5. Don’t forget to keep a good supply of needed medications to get you through an emergency.
6. Keep your vehicle gassed up at all times, not just when a hurricane is on its way. You can avoid the long gas lines if you do. If gas runs out, you’re ahead of the game.
7. Keep important papers, priceless photos, valuables, etc., in a location where you can easily grab them if you need to evacuate suddenly. You won’t have time to hunt for that stuff.
8. Have flood insurance.
9. Have a generator. I don’t have one, but I am looking to get one of the permanent ones that runs off natural gas, and powers the entire house. Those are pricey, so a gas generator will do to keep fridges and medical equipment running, and your cell phone charged.
10. Have a trusted circle of friends you can turn to for help, and who can turn to you. I have any number of Men of the West who will be there if I call. I will be there for them.
Lebt wohl, meine Kameraden!