Everything started out as we would expect for a hurricane. This being my third since moving to Houston 16 years ago. I gathered food, water and gas. Sealed a pesky leak near the chimney and settled in with an iPad full of books, Game of Thrones to catch up on and plenty of Pop Tarts. The rain began.
I am writing this mainly for friends and family so I will make comparisons to Indiana weather. Rain in Indiana is ten-twenty minutes of down pour, lightening and in extreme cases tornadoes. Normal rain here is driving, soaking and lengthy. Harvey rain? Steady downpour. I have gone out a couple times and am usually pretty wet by the time I cross to the Jeep. Then there are the wrath of God downpours that go on and on. Pour a pitcher of water in your sink. No kidding that is what it looks like. A steady waterfall of gallons of water for hours.
My yard slopes to the east into the Spring wetlands. My little neighborhood slopes down hill to this bayou and drains very well. We still had a river of water in the street rushing that way and I personally had a nice trout stream in the backyard running under my fence. Not very deep but a nice three inch gush of water that thankfully kept on going to the bayou. My friends and coworkers have not been so lucky. Their streets didn't empty, their streams became ponds. An inexorable march towards their houses sitting a couple of feet above street level.
Sunday at noon the power went out. I didn't fret as things were bad to the south of Houston but not up north where I am in Spring. I hoped the power would be back soon. As the sun rose Monday I discovered a vastly different story. No power and a generator that won't start despite my father's conference call help, Youtube and a kicking or two. I drove around a little bit to charge devices and check out the surrounding area. Lots of water and trees that fell over, not due to wind but rather ground so wet they become top heavy and uproot. Returning home after not finding much open I took a nap. (Hey, whats a guy to do.) Monday afternoon with the rain beginning to come down even harder I took my food to Madison's mom. They live nearby and by some miracle still have power.
Mayra hasn't killed any kids yet and Madison looks great. She is living the adventure in her My Little Pony PJ's. Coming home I found a Stripes gas station with ice so I picked up a bag. I settled in to read, listen to a battery powered radio, and eat some pork loin I grilled up.
The reports have become to come in. Keep in mind that I live right next to the Grand Parkway or Highway 99. It is now closed, water over the road. I 45 the main highway I take to work. You have seen the pics on TV. It is a river flowing south. Cypresswood Drive where I lived near the Mormon Temple for two years in 2003-2005. Water so high they are using airboats and jet skis to rescue people. Meyer Park where I attempted to jog and get in shape is now a lake of fast flowing water. Inside 99 is 2200 square miles. You can fit Delaware in this space. We begin to see herds of cattle and horses being moved, the Cajun Navy (rescue group from Louisiana arrived) and people I follow on Instagram are organizing to help. As dark fell the mandatory evacuations hit around me. Areas that are picturesque near The Woodlands and over in Spring including an area where friends live are being told to get out. The spillways and dams are releasing and the levees south of them are failing.
I began to hear the airboats running last night. Saving people out in the dark. The unmistakable roar of their turbo engines throttling up and down. As I fall asleep around midnight I thank God that he plopped Madison's mom and myself in our respective neighborhoods. Safe. If a little inconvenienced by the lack of power.
Tuesday, I still by some miracle have hot water. No power, but gas water heaters in the attic are great for holding heat. The reports come in. More friends are displaced, staying with family or friends. I am land locked with no roads in or out of my area to get out and help them or bring them to me to stay. I jump in the Jeep and head to the nearest commerce. Luckily, I find a Panera that is opening and has hot coffee, cold iced tea and warm bread. I open the laptop to begin assessing the situation.
Aldine ISD the school district I work for has two shelters open. M. O. Campbell Center is filled up with families from the Greenspoint area. Some may remember that area from when I worked at Spence Elementary. The district is feeding and housing displaced students and their families. The sad news comes in that a family of four kids and their grandparents from this community were lost when their van overturned in flood waters. Rayford Intermediate is being opened as well to shelter. Remember the flow of Spring Creek from East of my neighborhood? Mandatory evacuations are filling it up fast.
A document has been posted on our ePortal. 17 schools reporting water incursions, four catastrophic, and 3/4's still to report in. Carver HS where my awesome teachers pushed all of our tech to the second floor early Friday hasn't checked in yet. I am crossing my fingers that I am not going to be spending next week inventorying items damaged in water incursions. Is your head spinning yet? Imagine a cube 2 miles by 2 miles filled with water. That is what we are experiencing. It is still raining, sideways as I look up and out the window.
In all of this, I need my friends and family to do something for me. Be encouraged by the way this community has pulled together to be the first responders. Houston is embracing help. Houstonians stepped up to say we are going to get this started and you all can help when you get here. No one gives a damn about citizenship status, boot straps, economics, and color. Everyone deserves to be safe, warm and secure. The looting reports are very few and far between. Don't believe the media that manages to report on them over and over. Don't get on Facebook and start casting stones. We don't need the President to visit if he isn't bringing a flat-bottomed boat. We couldn't care less about a damn wall when our friends and neighbors have stepped up.
When I get back to work I will be bringing in school supplies to replace those lost. If anyone wishes to help they can donate to the Red Cross. (They are running our MOC shelter.) If you want to be more direct I can facilitate getting supplies to Aldine schools in need. I am safe, dry and going back to kick the generator for a bit longer. I have seen Harvey and he isn't a Pooka. He is a force of nature that was 800 years in the making.