I turned on the news for the first time in five days on Tuesday before I went to work (for the first time in over a week). First report was of Hurricane Irma. I had to directly change the channel. Just the thought of it was sickening to me. Golden Girls it was. Or was it I Love Lucy? I can not even remember. There is not much on the TV before 7 AM (OK fine, I love both of those shows, leave me alone) and I still do not know what day it is. Funny how that happens. How you can’t remember the days and what has happened or when. It just gets intertwined like a bouncing rubber band ball and you can’t tell where one begins and another ends.
To be perfectly honest, the five days ‘away’ from the continuing disaster that is the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey was necessary for my well being in more ways than one.
The craziest thing about it is that I feel like I should not feel this way. This battered and exhausted and, well, emotional about it. I think this is what one would call survivor’s guilt? I had never even heard that term until a few days ago. My family and I have been incredibly blessed through this whole ordeal.
My family, my animals, and our houses are all fine. My friends and their animals are safe. That is the most important thing. The horse barn got a little flooded, we lost a little bit of feed, and our fences were ripped out (…again…). The floor of the feed room will be replaced and everything else will dry or can be replaced.
To say it came out of nowhere would be inaccurate. We knew it was coming. We knew it was going to be bad. We prepared.
But it was worse.
Hurricane Harvey quickly beefed up and became a category 4 right before his big, debut entrance (if you did not know, he made two landfalls…crazy, right?). And to say that Harvey did anything but dump rain quickly is quite comical. I might venture to say that it was the slowest moving storm in history. Harvey slammed the coast and creeped his way north and stalled. FOREVER. Impossible to anticipate what will happen at this point. Dumping quite literally, buckets of rain over more than, oh, I dunno, and area of twenty counties? Big cities and small towns alike. Not just Houston. In some areas, reports are upwards of 50 inches. Cough. You read that right. That is more than the projected 30 inches. With all this concrete, where is that water supposed to go?
Going through a storm like this felt somewhat like what a war might feel like. Getting slammed with rain for days, quite literally. It did not stop. Sleep impossible. Anxiety and fear rising with the water from all directions. The water seemed to rise faster than it came out of the sky. Many were scared for their lives and could not go anywhere. Many lost their lives. Many had to be rescued in a boat, everything they have worked their whole lives for lost, clutching to loved ones and the few treasured possessions they could carry. They now have nowhere to go.
The storm hit our area Friday evening and had no mercy.
Come Saturday, R realized she needed to leave her house, but quickly realized she had no way out of her neighborhood. She spent the next 24 hours staging her house to try and save as much of her stuff as possible, knowing she was bound to have water in her house soon. She had water in her house and rising Sunday morning. By Sunday evening she helped put out a neighbor’s house fire and hitched a ride out of there on a boat with her cat. Talk about a story for your grandkids!
My God Parents flooded. My God Mother’s parents flooded. My sister’s God Father flooded, had to walk out in chest deep water, and be taken out by boat. Several long time family friends flooded.
Darcy and I rode out the storm with my Parents at their house. Watching the news was harrowing. Just harrowing. We made ourselves take brakes from watching it to play cards or watch a movie to take our minds off it. Constantly checking the radar to see where the bands were, here or at the farm? Checking the river gauges to try and determine how the river was rising and how it would crest. Literally getting up in the middle of the night to see where the water was on the back patio and then checking my phone again to see how the farm was faring. Getting calls and messages from friends who were flooding or hauling their animals to safety and no way to get to them to help. The complete and utter helplessness of not being with my horses at the farm. I knew they were in high ground and would be safe because our neighbor made sure of it, but my mind went wild with worst case scenarios.
We tried to get to the farm on Monday. We got half way there and had to get creative with ways to try and get around the water. Mother Nature is more creative than us though and we had to turn around and come home. We didn’t try again until Wednesday. We got within sight of the front gate but could not cross the water in the low spot of the road. Our nighbor informed us that his friend went up in a plane to do a flyover of a few properties and reported our house and animals high and dry. While it really wasn’t enough details for me, it was the only thing keeping me going at this point. Dejected, Dad and I headed home.
The next day gifted sweet, sweet success and a ton of bricks lifted off my shoulders. I was able to get in and see my horses and cows. I almost cried. The next five days I spent cleaning up, fighting mosquitos, waiting for everything to dry up, and thanking the Lord for His many blessings.
Here is something bigger than the storm, though.
All throughout the storm, people kept showing up to save people and animals and then turning around to help clean up the damage left behind. People helping people. Not because they want recognition or get anything out of it, but because it is what needs to be done and they need it. People sacrificing their lives for another. Comfort and love spreading faster than the water. Sensationally and overwhelmingly heartwarming. Outshining the hurt and devastation. The hate of the outside world being washed away with the flood waters.
So very Texas. That is part of what makes this place so great. This is what I will remember most from this hurricane named Harv.
Go hug your people and your animals. I am exhausted, but happy to be on the other side of this cleaning up. It will be a long time before we are finished with Harvey, but everything will be right as rain in no time.
Too soon? Sorry.
Walk in love, dear readers and go say a prayer for all in Irma’s path!