A few weeks ago, Hurricane Harvey plowed over coastal Texas (which I am assuming is somewhat old news at this point!). Many of you have probably seen my Instagram and Facebook posts informing friends and family that our house flooded, but I wanted to finally share some more photos of what that has looked like as well as thoughts about what that has felt like.
I’ve been interviewed by three separate people about the experience, each of them focusing on different aspects of the story. And I’m thankful for that interest in telling our story, and for the way that talking about it and attempting to articulate different pieces of that story to others has helped me in my own processing of the events of the last month. I am excited to finally be sitting down to tell the story for myself, though.
I spent my first weekend of junior year communicating with my family about the situation back home, whilst trying to get into my groove and go about normal school life. It was an odd dichotomy to be going about life as normal at school, while 800 miles away my family was weathering heavy rains, and then rising waters.
Trent (my younger brother) had his move-in day postponed because of the storm, and started his freshman year of college a week and a half later than expected. When he should have been attending his first classes and doing his first homework assignments, he was moving furniture and tearing out damaged walls.
The storm made landfall in Corpus Christi, TX the evening of August 25th, and headed northeast over the next few hours. My family was not expecting anything too crazy. We’ve done hurricanes before, and thanks to a well-built home and trees falling in the right direction (aka away from the house), we’ve never sustained damages beyond missing fence pieces. This time turned out very different.
Over the weekend, the house lost and then regained power and the fam was just chillin’ while the rain poured down. Sunday evening, water was visible across the street from the house, but the street itself was draining fairly well. We had never had water this high before, but it was still a ways away.
Monday morning, a neighbor woke them up to alert them of the changing situation:
At this point, Dad was really wise and called a tow truck. All three cars were successfully moved to higher ground and had no damage as a result. Had they stayed on our driveway, they all would have been ruined as some of our neighbor’s cars were.
While the cars were being moved, the water continued rising. In response, Mom and Trent began moving things stored near the ground downstairs to upper cabinets/upstairs. All the while, the waters slowly but steadily rose.
By Monday afternoon, Mom was baking cookies because there was nothing they could do to stop whatever was going to happen from happening. As the afternoon wore on and water inched towards them, they began moving progressively heavier furniture upstairs.
When the water started seeping in on Monday evening, it was surreal. Well, it was surreal for me at least when I FaceTimed the fam. I can’t speak for them on this matter. It came in everywhere. Under the doors and through the sides of the house. The carpeted rooms gave me the best visual as I could see the wetness moving in on the carpet from the outer walls. I couldn’t really see the water beginning to cover the wood floor and tile, but I could hear the dogs padding through it.
Our sweet Copper dog saw the water seeping in from the back door and backed away, quite unsure about the situation.
Come bedtime Monday night, all furniture which could be moved was upstairs and nothing remained on the ground floor as even the very middle of the house was now covered with a few inches of water. There was nothing that could be done to stop it. All they could do was wait and see how high it got.
Waking up Tuesday morning to higher waters, there was debate about whether they should stay or go. Once the water hit the top of the toilets and sewage started coming up, they decided it was time to go because ew. They packed up some bags, waded out to the backyard fence and handed the bags over to a neighbor. Then, some boys who lived further up in the neighborhood came around on their boat and collected the humans and dogs, Dad locked the door, they maneuvered over to the breaker box to shut the electricity off to prevent any fires from starting, and they floated on down the road.
Eventually, they ended up at one of Dad’s friend’s houses where they were fed and loved. These friends housed us, loved on our pups, and came to help with damage assessment once the water receded. We were overwhelmed by all of the support and help. Times like these really show you who your friends are and how many people love you. It was pretty incredible to see how many volunteers came to help in the days following: friends, family, and complete strangers who just wanted to lend a hand (and/or see the inside of a flooded house- which was fine).
There were several videos on my Facebook feed of endless lines of trucks with boats heading towards Houston to assist with rescues and clean up. And in those moments, when families were trapped in their homes and needed help, there was no difference of opinion or skin color that made someone pass by a family and say, “Sorry, you’re not welcome on this boat” or “Sorry, you can’t have these supplies.” There were people who needed help and people helping, and I think that’s an important thing to remember and realize.
It was a new experience: a hurricane hitting home while I was states away. My family has weathered two hurricanes before Harvey in this house. When those storms hit, though, we were all together… and nothing crazy happened.
I had a hard time processing what was happening to the house we’ve made a home from so far away. In that way, I think it was harder on me than it was for them. They had to witness the damage first-hand, but they also knew what was happening and processing it while it was happening. I had to witness the damage via picture and video, and could not really fathom it.
I was able to make a trip home a few weekends ago, though, and that helped immensely. I just needed to lay my eyes on everything and see my fam to internalize what I knew had happened at home, but could not really understand. On that trip, I saw the rest of town, I saw my home, I saw my puppy boys who are amazing and have rolled with the waves and been such good listeners and trusters and supporters of their humans.
While I was home, I took some photos to show what the house looks like now. It was mostly cleaned up when I went home, but in pieces as repairs will be a long, slow process due to the demand for supplies and labor.
I really started this post with the intention of sharing these photos and maybe a few words. I had no idea when I sat down to write this up that I would have so many words. If you’ve made it this far, pat yourself on the back!
Below are those photos I took, and as a parting thought I just want to say thank you. We could never have predicted that our home would flood, and I suppose if we could undo it somehow we might. It has been an experience to remember, though. So much love and support (financial, spiritual, emotional, physical) has been shown to us and to so many other families and cities in general. And we are thankful. Sometimes it takes the worst of circumstances to bring out the best of humanity and to restore our faith in the people God created. There is a lot of hate in this fallen world, but there is also still so much love. And we are thankful to have felt it so greatly.