The last few days I've been a little on edge. Checking the weather forecast for any signs of torrential rains. It has been a year since Hurricane Harvey. For some Houstonians, it has been a year since the hurricane and they still are not back in their homes.
The night before the hurricane we were getting ready as the news suggested. "Have a enough drinking water, stock up on perishable food, fill your bath tubs with water, have batteries on hand", the news said. Honestly though, I thought that the news was exaggerating. How many times do you hear the weather forecast and nothing happens?
Saturday came, my husband was so excited. It was the first college game of the season in our new home. Jack had made trash can nachos, stocked up on beer, and assumed the position on the couch. Me, on the other-hand, I was cleaning like the Queen of England was coming for a visit. I kept thinking "why the heck am I cleaning if we are going to be stuck here while the storm passes"? Was the storm going to roll through my house and say "yep, your house is clean. I approve." I just could not sit still.
We made it through the day on Saturday and went to bed.
Sunday, August 27 1 a.m the water was still on the street, flooded, but on the street nonetheless. Three a.m., 4 a.m. by 7 a.m we knew we weren't escaping it. Water was slowly creeping up over the curb. By this point, the adrenaline hit and we started moving furniture salvaging anything we could. By 8:40 a.m. the water was a quarter of a way on our lawn. At 10:15 a.m the water was at our door step. And then, there it was, water coming in from all directions. Not only was water coming in but it was also coming up through the toilets, bathtub, and shower downstairs. The sewer was so full there was no where else for it to go but up. All I kept thinking was, when is it going to stop raining, how high will the water get, what if we can't get out? My next thought was, I need to get my child to safety.
At around 1 p.m. my husband's friend posted on Facebook that he and a group of men were in our neighborhood with a boat rescuing anyone that wanted to leave their homes. Immediately I thought about my son and getting him out of danger. Listen, I can deal with losing material stuff but when it comes to my family's lives, I'm not going to risk anything. The images of Katrina and people standing on the roof of their homes kept playing in my mind. You try not to let your thoughts go there but the mind has its own agenda. By the time these brave men made it us the water was about waist deep in the street. The main road was a steady running current through the neighborhood. These wonderful men pulled my son and I on the boat to the other end where my father-in-law was waiting. I did not realize how tight I was holding my son's hand until he turned to me and said, "mom you are hurting me." Poor kid.
We made it to my in-laws and that's when I lost it. Every television channel was broadcasting images of people being rescued, asking for help, children being pulled into life boats, the devastation was endless. Facebook was the worst because we saw post after post of people we knew asking, no, pleading for help.It was awful to say the least.
After 2 days of not being able to leave the house, we were finally able to get back into our neighborhood. We opened the door, all we could see was traces of what the flood left behind. The smell, dirt, puddles, our belongings drench is nasty water, it was too much. This was the beginning of the rebuilding process, emotional roller coaster, and testing of faith.
Through this experience I've learned several things. One, we have great friends and family. We could not have gotten through the next several months without their support. Grateful doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about the wonderful people in our lives.
Secondly, the storm shall pass (figuratively and literally). Trying to stay positive was hard. There were days I felt immense guilt because I knew that there were families in worse shape that us. Families who had lost it all, financially spent, no where to stay , lives lost. Every time I felt down on myself, I thought about those families. How their road to recovery was going to be tougher than ours. We had family and a place to stay.
Also, material things, in the end really do not matter. The day we left the house all we took was a duffel bag with a few pieces of clothing and important papers. That's it. We lived with the bare necessities for several months. And we were okay.
The most important lesson in all of this was, the strength of my faith? When things are going great, God is great. God is awesome. But is God still all of these in challenging times? Even on the hardest days, I would still thank God for my family and waking up to a new day. On days that I couldn't see the light, I'd ask God to help me learn the lesson in this experience. Help us ALL see the lesson the lesson through the challenges ahead. One of the greatest things that happened through this time was seeing the hearts of people.People coming together from all walks of life and helping each other. It was a beautiful sight. I truly believe that God's lesson was to extend a helping hand to your fellow brother and sister.
Today, I will be uneasy. Praying for Houston to make it through hurricane season without impact. What I really want to drive home is this, just because an event is no longer in the news, it doesn't mean it's over. Whether it is Montecito, CA, Mexico's earthquake last year, or Hurricane Harvey, some people are still recovering and may have a ways to go. Keep these people in mind today and say a little prayer.
We are not Hurricane Harvey victims; we are survivors.