Thursday, August 31, 2017
Hurricane Harvey - The Winds of Change
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!