I never shared our Harvey story here on the blog. If you follow me on Instagram or my Facebook page you might have seen that we took our travel trailer and evacuated to North Texas. Even when we got home though I never wrote about it. Life is busy and so maybe that’s part of why. There were also so many emotions and I couldn’t find the words to do them justice. I guess I wasn’t doing a very good job as a writer.
It’s hard to find words as I watched my city under water. It’s hard to find words as I sat in a dry travel trailer and watched as people waded in waist deep water to safety with nothing left but the garbage bags they carried out. It’s hard to find words as my own friends were posting photos of water in their houses. It’s hard to put into words when the guilt is a heavy tangible thing because I didn’t really have much to tell because I came home to a dry house. Maybe that’s why I didn’t write it. I was one of the lucky ones with no story to tell and I didn’t want to take away from the true survivors.
Here’s Our Harvey Evacuation Story
When Harvey was going to land as a Category 2, our original plan had been to hunker down at home with our generator because we live in the country and the power goes out if a bird sneezes and portable air conditioner because Texas in the summer and all the canned goods our blood pressure could stand. The kids had just had their first day of school but then the next day was cancelled because of the impending storm which was surreal.
Then that jerk Harvey decided to hang out in the Gulf for a bit and strengthen. When we saw on the news he was coming in at a Category 4, that’s a whole new ballgame. I rode out Hurricane Ike in 2008 which was a Category 4 and it wasn’t pleasant to put it mildly.
I’m a special needs mom of a kiddo who has pretty severe storm anxiety made worse by a tornado that came through our town in May. We live by a river. The predictions for our area were 65 mile per hour sustained winds that could spin a travel trailer like a top. All these things were already in my head so when my husband and I were discussing the possibility of having to cut a hole in the roof to escape if the river water rose, we knew it was time to go.
Let me say we made the decision that was right for us which is what everyone else did too. Houston was told they didn’t need to evacuate. No one expected 51 inches of rain. Let that sink in. 51 inches. The Weather Channel had to make a new color on their graph to report that much rain. 6 million people live in Houston. That scale of evacuation is unprecedented. So please don’t ask why people didn’t leave.
I was able to get last minute reservations at North Texas Jellystone. We were lucky because hotels were filling fast and some gas stations were running out of gas. We made the five hour drive with no traffic and plenty of gas. We passed convoys of National Guard and linemen driving toward what we were driving away from and it was one of the most humbling feelings I’ve ever experienced.
North Texas Jellystone is a wonderful family campground in Burleson, Texas that normally would have been empty with kids back in school but was full with other families from the Houston area running from Harvey. The staff was great with the kids and even though they don’t normally have activities during the off season they put together things for the evacuee kids to take their mind off the storm.
We got settled into the campsite and our travel trailer satellite gets local channels. We watched in helpless horror as Harvey hit Rockport, a place I went every summer with my family, and demolished the town. It was raining in Houston. And it wouldn’t stop. 51 inches fell in Houston alone. Over 4 feet of rain in a city surrounded by bayous and reservoirs with no where for it to go. So it went into people’s homes and businesses. Then the same happened in the towns like Beaumont surrounding Houston. We could do nothing but watch and I was literally sick about it.
I had to find something I could to help from where we were. I gathered a travel trailer of supplies to bring back to Houston. I let the kids help because I had told them in simple terms what was happening. They knew it was an evacuation not a vacation. My daughter insisted on purple towels. In this little Walmart five hours from Houston there were many people like me checking out with multiple baskets of what were obviously donation supplies for people they didn’t know. I had to prevent myself from doing the ugly cry right there in Walmart.
I helped match people with boats with people who needed them via Facebook groups. Two of the biggest heroes in Harvey (besides our first responders) were the Cajun Navy and the Everyman with a boat. God bless every one who risked their lives to save people they didn’t know.
When the roads were clear we went home and found our home was one of the ones in our neighborhood that had been spared. I cried with relief and thanked God. Then I cried with guilt and sadness for everyone who wasn’t as fortunate. Then I made as many donation deliveries as our paychecks would allow. I’m sure you saw the rest on the news. Let me say though, there’s people who will need help for some time to come so help if you can. Houston Food Bank is a great place to start.
Our Houston Astros Story
Starting around the time I was 10 years old my mom would drive my sister and I the hundred mile one way trip to the Old Astrodome each summer. It was there in those empty seats of the cavernous stadium of a losing team that couldn’t give away tickets if they tried that I fell in love with the beautiful game of baseball and I fell in even deeper love with the Houston Astros. My first date with my husband was to an Astros game so I could let him know what he was signing up for.
He fell in love with that team too. We scheduled our wedding activities in 2005 around the playoffs. We grieved together when we were swept in their first World Series appearance that same year. He reminded me of why I love him so much when he told me get tickets when they clinched that second World Series berth a few weeks ago. It doesn’t matter what it costs he said. This is history. This is why you are stuck with me for life, husband.
So get them we did. And we were so high in the nosebleeds we brought Kleenex and I thought a jet buzzed past us. There high above Minute Maid we had the best date night ever (a date night because I wasn’t spending money on World Series tickets for kids to ask to leave in the fourth inning or ask where their ipad was). But we watched our Astros lose.
Then we watched that next night as they played one of the greatest games ever played and won. Apparently I picked the wrong game to attend.
Then we lost the first one in LA and we lost a lot of sleep and I was getting worried. I still believed though. We only had to win one. And we did. After 51 inches of rain hit Houston, we won game 7 of the World Series 5-1. If that isn’t redemption, it sure looks a lot like it. I almost couldn’t believe what I was seeing. But after 30 years as a fan I was more than willing to try. We had Earned History. This post from my personal Facebook tried to sum up what that means for Houston.
Houston Astros fans have known a lot of heartbreak over the years. The elimination of ‘86. Our beloved Nolan Ryan leaving to go play in Arlington. Being swept in the World Series of ‘05. Multiple times the team lost 100 games. That was nothing compared to the heartbreak when Harvey brought us to our knees back in August. Heartbreak some are still recovering from and others may never be restored to what was. Around the time Houston was starting to dust itself off and pull itself up by its bootstraps the boys of summer were becoming the boys of fall. We started to notice something was happening with our Astros. They were winning. A lot. Could it be? Could it finally be our time? In this year that Houston needed it most, could it be destiny? Then as September rolled into October it felt like the team stopped playing for themselves and started playing for us. For Houston. And when it looked like maybe they wouldn’t win, like Houston itself they didn’t quit and somehow they won. Maybe this was really going to happen? Was it possible? But baseball is a game that is never certain until the last out is made especially with an opponent as formidable as the Dodgers. Tonight the last out was made and it was a destiny fulfilled. A city that was on its knees a few short months ago is on its feet cheering tonight. Houston, we have our World Series. Finally. From the bottom of our hearts thank you, Astros. Houston Strong.
Today thousands of people gathered downtown to honor this team that brought back hope to a city that desperately needed it. Houston is still on the road to recovery but like the Astros, the city has heart and will never quit. That’s what Houston Strong is all about.