hoUSton

Guys. So much has happened in our lives since my last post. One of the biggest things was #HurricaneHarvey.

Houston Strong

This was our first hurricane to go through- and boy did we learn a lot! It was so strange, this hurricane wasn’t even on my radar or something that was top-of-mind over the weekend. All of a sudden on Wednesday, everyone was all like, “A FREAK’N HUGE HURRICANE IS COMING! GET PREPARED!” It feels like it all happened so quickly. David went to the grocery store for emergency supplies on Thursday afternoon and he said it was madness. Long lines. Zero water. Zero gasoline. He grabbed what snacks he could and a few bags of ice. Then he went to Specs for some booze. Luckily, Specs had a lot of cases of water, so he stocked up on that too. It’s funny to shop for non-perishable items and things you can easily cook without power or gas. It’s a strange concept – having to think about cooking while you’re living like you’re on a camping trip.

We walked out to the hike/bike trail right behind out house along the bayou on Thursday to document the calm before the storm:

Hurricane Harvey

The following day (Friday morning), Hurricane Harvey was a pretty BFD in the Gulf coast:

The sky turned pretty gray in Houston, and David and I both went to work. Thankfully, our jobs let us both go home at noon to get prepared for the storm that was scheduled to hit Rockport/Corpus Christi that evening. We went home and stuffed all our plants and patio furniture in our garage, you know, cause WIND. We also gathered a bag of “if we need to leave quick items” and set it by the front door. We stocked up on pet food and got the dog and cat travel things ready. We also gathered all our important documents and put them in ziplock bags. We were glued to the storm coverage in Rockport all night. This poor poor Weather Channel reporter:

We cooked dinner that night and thought, “This could be the last real meal we get to eat for a while, lets make it good!” We counted down the hours until the eye hit the Texas coast. It was crazy. Did you see that the hotel that was built to withstand a category 5 hurricane that had its wall ripped off? How could anything else stand a chance?!

rockport holiday inn

As you’d imagine, it was hard to sleep that night. The storm bands from the hurricane were already bringing serious rain and winds to Houston. I woke up from a storm in the middle of the night checked the radar:

harvey radar

Saturday morning, we got up, watched the news for a couple of hours and decided that we got the gist of how this storm-band-thing was going to work. The bands of storms that Harvey created hours of nasty thunderstorms followed by hours of clear skies. Since phone radars are pretty accurate these days, we decided to take a jog in between storm bands. Dumb, I know. We also snapped these photos of the trail by our house:

Hurricane Harvey

As you can tell, the bayou had already risen quite a bit since the day before. Also, we underestimated the storm bands’ speed. We ultimately got poured-on while running. The rest of Saturday afternoon was calm and clear, though. We even ventured out of the house to grab coffee and treats. The storm was always looming around the corner, though. It was strange. It would be crystal clear and even sunny in some parts of the city, and other parts would be experiencing torrential rain and tornadoes. It all depended on where the hurricane storm bands were:

hurricane harvey

Then came Saturday night. It was the worst night for us. We were hit by a band of storms that lasted for a few hours. The lights were flickering, the house felt like it was going to blow over, tornado sirens were going off, and the streets began flooding. Max is scared of thunder so we made him a redneck doggie thunder shirt. It actually calmed him enough so we could go to sleep that night without him getting in the bed!

Saturday night was also when the flooding really really started. We were watching the news and the station flooded on-air! Our street never floods, but we could see the water going over the curb in our front yard that night. My main concern wasn’t the street in our front yard though, it was the bayou in our backyard. We literally live .1 mile from Bray’s Bayou. Our house has never flooded. None of my neighbors houses have ever flooded. We were told we did not need to purchase flood insurance because there was no need.

On a normal day, I can see the jogging trail next to the bayou from our upstairs window (first set of photos). When we woke up on Sunday morning, we could see the bayou flowing from the window. That’s when I got really scared. We went outside and walked over the the bayou to see how bad it was. This is what we saw:

Hurricane Harvey Houston, Third Ward, Brays Bayou, flooding, brays bayou flood, macgregor park

That house behind David in the photo above is the one that backs up to our backyard. They had water in their house on Saturday night.

Usually there is a road, fire hydrants, and some green space before you get to the bayou. All of it is underwater here.

The road is somewhere down there. David was standing close to the row of trees on the photos we took on Thursday.

This crappy map snapshot below is to show you just how close we live to the bayou. We live somewhere in that highlighted yellow zone, and I scribbled in the bayou flooding in blue:

Houston street flooding, hurricane harvey, houston flood, third ward houston

This is the corner of Scott and Macgregor. The whole intersection has been engulfed by the bayou.

And here is the bayou from the bridge on Sunday morning:

brays bayou flooding, hurricane harvey flood, houston flood, third ward houston tx

At this point, we started moving all our belongings and furniture upstairs. I’ve never seen the bayou this full, and I knew that if we had another storm the size/strength of Saturday’s storm (which we were predicted to have) that our house would be underwater. Scary stuff. We were mentally prepared for this to happen. We stayed glued to the TV for the rest of the day and watched the storm bands form.

Just a recap of the water levels here:

hurricane harvey flood

Thursday

hurricane harvey, flooding, brays bayou, third ward

Friday

brays bayou flooding, hurricane harvey flood, houston flood, third ward houston tx

Saturday

Lucky for us (not lucky for others) the storms on Sunday night struck to the east and west of us. The middle section of Houston was spared from another massive rain storm, which gave our section of Brays Bayou a chance to drain. The water levels in our section of town started going down on Monday. It was still raining, but not at a rate that was greater than the speed at which the bayou could drain into the Gulf.

We are beyond blessed.

Hurricane Harvey flood, Houston flood,

Monday and the next couple of days felt very odd. We didn’t have to go to work. Many places in Houston were still flooded. It was weird feeling safe and secure at home while our neighbors and friends were suffering. The city started to release the levy water this day. This was hard to watch because homes that were spared from the flood waters were now being purposely flooded. Can you imagine? You survive the hurricane flooding, only to be consciously flooded by the city? Heartbreaking.

The urge to help was overwhelming. On Monday or Tuesday (I can’t remember, the days blur) we drove out to the east side of town to offer help, but the highways were shut down due to water on the road. We turned around and went to a local shelter and gave them the supplies that we ended up not needing. Later, David volunteered with several organizations and helped strangers gut their destroyed homes. I didn’t realize how quickly walls and floors and furniture mold. The people who flooded immediately had to gut their homes. Piles and piles of building materials and debris are still sitting on the curbs of Houston. It feels strange jogging past the trash every day. This is what many streets still look like today (10/10/17):

hurricane harvey trash,

We went back to work on Thursday and Friday, but the whole city just felt off. Many co-workers couldn’t make it into work. Traffic was at an all-time high. Many people lost their cars or were still gutting their homes. Some still had water in them! Our offices scrounged to supply lunches for the people who could make it into work. Many restaurants and grocery stores were still closed. It’s been a month since Harvey, and my parking garage downtown is still flooded. The Wortham doesn’t think it will be able to host a show in its building until spring. Many of my friends are still working from home because their workplaces are under construction from the flood damage. I think the city and its residents will feel the effects for a looooooong time.

I pray that Houston lawmakers and city politicians learn their lesson. I pray that tough rules and regulations will be put into place to help the flood problem. I pray that green spaces and retention ponds and levis will be put in place. I know mother nature had a huge hand in this mess, but the city is not equipped to handle big rainstorms anymore. We have had too much growth. We’ve had three major floods in two years…something is not right and something needs to be done. I hope city planners and builders are held to higher standards when it comes to water shedding.

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