Thursday, August 31, 2017

Hurricane Harvey - The Winds of Change

This time last week none of us had any idea what was about to impact millions of people in the USA especially Houston, Rockport and Port Aransas, just to name a few.  Basically, Texas and Louisiana, so far.

Perhaps the feral kitten knew, because each time it came into the garden, it would climb up and perch on top of this sculpture made for me by my friend Hayes Parker an eternity ago for my birthday.  It makes me smile.

The feral cats, all four of them, have moved on but I did enjoy seeing their antics while they were around.

Having lived through many hurricanes both in Louisiana and then in Texas for a total of fifty years, I started watching the NOAA website to see what was happening with Hurricane Harvey from the beginning.  It's that old adage, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks".   At the beginning they did not believe it would strengthen, but I never assume anything about hurricanes.  I do have a LONG and STRONG memory of those storms that became huge hurricanes in a matter of twelve hours as Alicia did in 1983, or the storm in Baton Rouge in 1965 that sank the chlorine barge right on the other side of the levee from the Married Student Apartments at LSU in Baton Rouge.  That caused a mandatory evacuation of all of Baton Rouge when they got ready to lift it up out of the water!  I remember it well.  I was eight months pregnant and we all slept in the closet that night as the water blew through the concrete block walls.  It is the ONLY hurricane that I did not evacuate from, ever.

From then on, my car loaded with kids, animals - whatever we had at the time, and friends caravaning behind us were just about the first car out of town when they just mentioned that "something was in the Gulf".  I'm not exaggerating one bit!  It used to aggravate my kids - now we talk about it.

Only sometimes, like in the case of 1979, something that was not even a tropical depression or hurricane yet, dumped 42 inches of rain in 24 hours on Alvin, Texas which was about twenty minutes away from Nassau Bay where we lived at the time.  No one had time to go anywhere.  The kids, who by that time were teenagers and I, lifted furniture off the floor onto counter tops, got out the V bottom boat and waited.  Terrifying is not a strong enough  word for my feelings with the responsibility for three people besides myself.  Luckily, in that episode, I found out our house was nineteen feet above sea level, which believe it or not, was high! for Nassau Bay and we did not flood.

My neighbors were not so lucky.  It took months and months for recovering.  In Alicia, in Houston, it took at least a year.  There were other floods and consequences in the thirty-four years of living in the Houston area.  I ALWAYS had flood insurance - even when I moved into Houston in the Galleria/Highland Village area.  People thought I was crazy..........not me.  And, believe it or not, one night I was out with a leaf rake and shovel trying to open drains in front of my house to keep it from flooding.  It did not flood, but did get water in the front closets and bathroom.

I tell you all this, just to give you an idea of some of the things that the people of the Houston area went through from this storm.  Much much worse then the things I went through - the terror, the concern for family members and in the case of this storm, how to get rescued.

It is not over by a long shot.  The surprising thing is many people have not lost power.  I'm astounded.  These darn storms usually happen in the hottest part of the year as Ike, Katrina and so many more were.  I remember in Alicia we had no electricity for three weeks. The kids and I slept on the marble floor in the foyer.  It was cool even though it was as hot as hell, if you stood up.

I drove to Galveston from San Miguel after Hurricane Ike to help my friends Sue and Vandy who lost everything.  As I drove into the town that I love so much, I cried.  I could not possibly imagine that there would be any way that Galveston would be restored.  It looked as though a bomb had been dropped on it.  BUT, it did come back!  Even though there were naysayers who did not think it deserved to be saved.  Probably those were the same people who said that about New Orleans after Katrina.  Those same people are now saying that about Houston!  My words for that would be very, very strong, but I'll be polite and say, "Please be quiet.  If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all".   Houston is one of the most magnificent cities in all of the USA!

If you have never been there, I'm sorry.  If you ever get a chance, after they have recovered in a few years, go.  But, right now, you can do more.  If I were there, I would be volunteering at the shelters; I would be taking in a family to share my home; I would be donating money to the Houston Food Bank or other charities who would get help immediately to the people.  Dollar for dollar and not 10cents on the dollar.

My prayer  would be that no one ever goes through a hurricane again.  Of course, that is not realistic.  So in the meantime, pray or send positive energy or whatever you do for these people who need whatever you have to offer.  They have no home.  They have no car.  In many instances, until businesses can open again, they have no job.  They don't even have clothes!  Can you imagine?

Please help if you can.  Both Texas Monthly magazine and the Houston Chronicle have tons of information on the charities and how you can help.

Gracias to each and every reader for anything that you can do!



16 comments:

Retired Teacher said...

I was going to send you an email today, but then I saw that you had just posted on your blog. What I most wanted to know was are your family and friends in Texas all OK?

Babs said...

Thanks Bill for asking. All of my family in Houston, Clear Lake and Kingwood are safe and dry. They have endured a lot in the last week and will have more to get through in the next weeks and months. But, yes, they are okay - none were flooded in their homes which is the greatest news.

Steve Cotton said...

I think of Erik Larson's "Isaac's Storm" every time I hear a hurricane is headed to Texas. Thanks for putting the charity information on line. From what I understand, less than 20% of homeowners had flood insurance.

Babs said...

Ahh yes, Steve. I looked at Galveston differently after reading Isaac's Storm.

I heard this week that one in six homeowners has flood insurance. Horrible.

I have posting a lot on FB with shared info on shelters, charities etc. I have no idea what else to do!

I wish I was sitting in Barra with my feet in the sand.........

living.boondockingmexico said...

A bleak reminder of what Mother Nature can do. As I stated on FB this week, Mother Nature doesn´t discriminate when it comes to race, religion, gender, or orientation.

I believe it´s a signal to move inland as the water levels and precipitation continue to rise as global temperatures rise. Be it natural, man made or both, we need to heed the warning. Houston will take years to recover.

It´s heartbreaking.

Babs said...

I agree with all of your comments! And especially about moving away from the coast.
In the late 70's when I moved close to Clear Lake which was a backwater to Galveston Bay, there was not much development south of there on the way to Galveston. In those almost 40 years, it is now developed from the outskirts of Houston to Galveston and ALL of that area has always flooded, even in the early 60's.

Why in the world would it be possible to build where an area has always flooded?
It IS heartbreaking.

I must admit I do not miss the stress I had each year worrying about the hurricane season!

Peter Kouwenhoven said...

Crazy stuff, the Pacific Northwest burns while Texas floods. So many people displaced, it's a nightmare... The summer of 2017 will be a bad memory for many...

Babs said...

Indeed Peter, the last few months have been a nightmare. Are the wildfires in
Canada contained now? There is very little news coverage of it.

I hope you all are safe and sound.

Deborah Soloway said...

Sadly, the wildfires in British Columbia are not contained. As of Thursday, August 31, there were 150 wildfires burning across the province, contributing to a total of 1,161 fires this season. There are air quality advisories in effect across the province, and the forecast high for this long weekend is 30 C. It has been a long, hard summer for many. Glad to hear your family is safe.

Babs said...

Deborah, what sad sad news! I had no idea as there has been little news coverage even though I have Shaw satellite! I'm sure the air quality is extremely dangerous - add to that the heat - oh my, stay safe!

Thanks so much for taking time to comment!

Shelagh Kouwenhoven said...

Our son Chris is at Williams Lake area helping to fight these fires. He is a reserve with the army. Not sure how long he will be there or when he needs to return to his job.

Babs said...

Wow Shelagh, I had no idea that there are so many fires and for so long.

I'm so shocked that there has not been more info on Canadian satellite about
the devastation.

Hopefully Chris will be home safe and sound SOON.

Hugs

Shelagh Kouwenhoven said...

Just today we read that the Fort McMurry fire is officially out after 15 momths. They predict the fires of this year will go into 2018. We had hoped to connect with our son who is fighting the fires and his platoon was to have a day off this afternoon but no contact so far at 9:50pm. I guess everything changes in an instant. Please say hello to all our pals in San Miguel, we think of you all numerous times in a week. We miss you all.. Take care, Shelagh

Babs said...

Good news about the Fort McMurry fire. I'm sure your son is beyond exhaustion.

We had 14 for lunch today at Hecho en Mexico. Mid-September both Ron and Fred and Trey and Bill are heading to Texas so our numbers will dwindle for a while. Same old, same old - people coming and going! I will tell them ya'll send hellos on Monday.

Scott McQuown said...

I have a friend down in Houston who was lucky and did not have any water get near enough to threaten his home. They had power all the time but were unable to get out until water started receding. He does work with sound and lighting equipment in the theater district which I understand has a lot of damage so that is affecting him.

Gov. Abbott just raised the recovery cost estimate from $120B to $180B. We can only hope that no other significant storm strikes the area any time soon.

Babs said...

Scott, thank goodness your friend's home is safe. Most everyone I know had power throughout the storm! Very surprising........at least til their houses flooded.

I too hope that Irma spares the USA and goes East of Florida. They would get some rain and wind, but that is on the "clean" side and not the "dirty" side as Houston was with Harvey.........Keeping my fingers crossed for all the people along the East coast.

So, as the waters become warmer and warmer, these hurricanes can grow to these astronomical proportions. Two category 4 or 5 hurricanes, one right after another is extremely unusual. In fact, I don't know if it has ever happened before!