It’s Tuesday evening in Houston, and to be honest, I had to look at a calendar to double check what day of the week it is. The past few days have all ran together.
Houston is under water.
Here’s an idea of what the past few days have been like as one of the lucky ones here in Houston.
Our home is dry and we have all the modern amenities of water, electricity, cable, and internet. We don’t have much to complain about compared to the rest of the city. There are thousands of people who no longer have a home. With that said, Harvey has still left a mark on our lives.
Our neighborhood is an island. There is no way in or out. If we want to leave, we can’t. Even if we make it through the high waters in our neighborhood, the freeways out of Houston are now rivers. With the uncertainty of which area will flood next, feeling isolated has caused its fair share of anxiety. Hopefully, in the morning we see an improvement in the water levels.
All the familiarities of a normal day are gone. The gas station is out of gas. Except for the neighborhood donut shop, all restaurants are closed. When we ran out of cat food, a quick trip to Petco wasn’t possible.
Our grocery store opens for a few hours every day. The store only lets in 10 people at a time, and shoppers have 5 minutes to fill their carts. It’s like a game of Supermarket Sweep, but not so fun. The line outside is long, and some people don’t make it through the door before the store closes.
Since stores have not been able to restock, the shelves are bare. Entire rows are empty- no bread, tortillas, chips, milk. Fortunately, our neighborhood has not lost power, so frozen pizzas, chicken tenders, and waffles are available.
Those who weren’t able to stock their pantry before the storm are in line at the gas station with hands full of ready to eat sandwiches, lunchables, and a 12 pack of coke (the water is sold out).
Our days have been filled with texts from friends sharing photos of their home, describing their attempts to keep the water at bay, updates on their family, and photos of our city.
A constant rumble of helicopters is overhead- the Coast Guard flying over our house.
Babies are running out of formula, people need insulin needles, and women are going into labor.
It’s surreal to be living this.
But there is also something else that the flood brought- community.
In the midst of the biggest natural disaster I’ve ever experienced, the goodness of Houstonians has never been more evident.
- The desperate mother whose baby was out of formula was met with dozens of offers from people with extra formula and breast milk on hand.
- The same response was given to the person looking for insulin needles- neighbors stepped forward with what they had.
- The woman going into labor was reassured by a neighbor who is a midwife nurse. The “hurricane” baby arrived this morning. Both mom and baby are doing great.
- The donut shop that is open gave away free donuts and water to the neighborhood today.
- A neighborhood church requested donations for evacuees. We loaded up 2 air mattresses and sleeping bags, but as we were getting into the car, the church asked residents to STOP bringing donations. They were overwhelmed. So many neighbors had responded, they could not accept any more at that time. (By the way, keep the donations coming- we have lots of shelters who are in need).
- Neighbors have opened their doors to strangers who no longer have a home.
- Our neighbor is home alone with her 3 kids. Her husband is a police officer and is stranded at work. Today she asked to borrow some foil because she was cooking food for evacuees. Somehow she has managed to keep her sanity being stuck in the house with 3 kids for four days, and also found time to cook for those in need.
- Yesterday, we noticed a leak in our roof. Water was dripping in and there was no break in the rain. We took the only things we had- a plastic painters tarp and landscaping rocks- to try and cover the hole. Our neighbor across the street saw us desperately trying to cover the roof in the rain. He came over with a tarp, wood, and nails and helped us tarp the roof properly. All of this in the rain.
These are all things I’ve personally experienced. This is Houston. This is why we will recover.
Here are some ways you can help Houston:
And once we get the city cleaned up, I encourage you to make a trip down here and see why 6 million people call Houston home. Here are a few of my favorites:
Museum District– 19 museums to explore, 10 of which are free.
Theatre District– Offering 12,948 seats for live performances to enjoy the opera, ballet, orchestra, and theatre- Houston is second only to New York City in concentration of seats. The Houston Opera Company is the only opera company in the US to win a Grammy, Tony, and Emmy.
Port of Houston Boat Tour– Take a 90-minute boat tour of the largest port on the Gulf Coast.
Waugh Drive Bat Colony– watch 250,000 Mexican Free-Tail Bats emerge for their nightly hunt.
Space Center Houston– A classic Houston attraction.
Orange Show Center for Visionary Art– Check out the Beer House (covered in 39,000 cans all consumed by the creator), and the Orange Show.
Hermann Park– Ride the train, visit the zoo, walk the Japanese garden, feed the ducks, or catch a show at the Miller Outdoor Theatre.
Nightlife– Enjoy Houston after dark in one of our many neighborhoods.