If you've been anywhere near the news media, you've probably figured out that things have been pretty exciting around here in Houston: Hurricane Harvey made his presence pretty well known here on the Texas Gulf Coast. Our family has been displaced, having gotten floodwater into our home. I've been sharing what's been happening on my private Facebook page, but I thought I'd make those posts public here, to give you an idea of what our lives have been like over the last 72 hours.
I hope you understand it might be a minute before I get back to my regular Chookooloonks posting schedule.
friday, august 25th, 2017, 8:17 p.m.
Getting lots of inquiries about if Marcus, Alex and I are safe. So I think I'll pop in periodically, to let you know what's up.
Right now, Alex and her best friend (who is spending the night) are watching a horror film in our family room. Marcus has a glass of whisky, I have a glass of red wine. Marcus and I are doing dishes. Rain is falling softly outside, low rumbles of thunder.
So far we're all good. Will check in in a few hours.
(Thanks for caring, sweet friends.)
friday, august 25th, 2017, 11:48 p.m.
Hurricane Harvey update: Alex and her friend are still watching horror movies in the family room. Soca is outside in the back yard, for one last explore for the night -- the rain has eased up a bit tonight. Marcus and I are in bed: I'm journaling, Marcus is playing a video game on his laptop.
All's still relatively quiet here in Houston. I suspect things aren't going to get serious for us here until a few days from now, when Harvey goes back out to the coast, and then makes a beeline for us as a tropical storm.
All this to say that there's no need to worry about us in Houston. Please turn your thoughts and prayers to folks farther south, in Rockport and Corpus Christi. They're going to need it this evening.
Sleep tight, folks. I'll be sure to let you know if anything more serious happens to us, but we're fine. :)
saturday, august 26th, 2017, 3:50 p.m.
Just received an emergency alert on our phones "TORNADO ALERT - TAKE SHELTER NOW." So Alex, Soca and I are in an interior hallway.
Where's Marcus, you ask? Oh, out taking a walk ... 😳
(Actually not worried. We did receive the alert, but the weather outside is calm.)
saturday, august 26th, 2017, 6:28 p.m.
Here we go -- that red blob should be on top of our house within 30 mins/1 hour.
saturday, august 26th, 2017, 9:11 p.m.
#hurricaneharvey update -- tornado warning has expired, so we're out of the corridor. Checking around the house, water has accumulated against our back door, so we're starting to put towels down, hoping it doesn't come in the house. (First time in 10 years this has been a concern.) Water should ease up a bit within the next 30 minutes, so hopefully that will be enough time to let the water recede before the next round of rain (and before it actually does make it into our house.)
EDITED TO ADD: Rain has abated a bit, water is receding. We're good for now.
sunday, august 27th, 2017, 7:34 a.m.
#HurricaneHarvey update -- Woke up to a tornado warning. Marcus just checked, our street is flooded almost to our front door -- a first. No water in our house yet, but friends certainly have water in theirs.
Time to get up.
sunday, august 27th, 2017, 10:13 a.m.
#HurricaneHarvey update -- rain has picked back up, water is rising again (it had receded to about 4' from our front door, now back to about 2' from our front door). We've started packing -- clothes for a few days, important documents, laptops, my cameras -- in case we need to wade out of the house (roads are impassable, and the water on the street in front of our house is about thigh-deep, so driving isn't an option). House is still dry, we're still dry, we still have power and water and internet, so thanking God for small mercies.
If anyone wants to dance to the rain gods to make it stop, now would be a good time. But otherwise, we remain in good spirits and hopeful. Not panic time yet. :)
sunday, august, 27th, 2017, 10:30 a.m.
#HurricaneHarvey update -- water AT the front door. signing off for a bit to take care of business. Will update when I can.
sunday, august 27th, 2017, 11:04 a.m.
Water in the house. Evacuating.
sunday, august 27th, 2017, 11:38 a.m.
Our front garden - anyone want lakefront property?
sunday, august 27th, 2017, 11:49 a.m.
Rescue efforts underway. God bless our friend Dustin (and his kayak).
sunday, august 27th, 2017, 3:36 p.m.
Left Alex at her best friends house, Marcus and I have returned to ours. Trying to sweep water out before the next round of storms.
sunday, august 27th, 2017, about 8:30 p.m.
#hurricaneharvey update: most of the water is out of the house, and Marcus and I are attempting to clean while Alex spends the night with her best friend. Not seeing too much damage (we elevated a lot of furniture before we left), but time will tell (for example, our front door has warped to the point that the deadbolt no longer works). Water has receded, but unfortunately the rain continues, and we just heard on the news that the Army Corps of Engineers is planning to release some pressure from one of the reservoirs - a reservoir that feeds the bayou that broke its banks and caused the flooding in our house this morning. If they release, we're almost guaranteed to flood again. So we're not out of the woods yet.
But for now, we're going to cook some steaks and have a stiff drink. More later.
sunday, august 27th, 2017, about 10 p.m.
Goddammit. Rain at front door again. Here we go.
sunday, august 27th, 2017, about 10:45 p.m.
Water at 5", and not receding fast enough. May have to wade out of the neighborhood. Pray for no snakes.
monday, august 28th, 2017, about 12:30 a.m.
#hurricaneharvey update: for the second time today, we abandoned ship. Water came into the house even higher tonight than this morning - about a good solid 6", and rising - and the news is saying that with the releasing of pressure of the reservoir upstream, we could expect 3-4 FEET more water. So we took our borrowed kayak and waded with the dog to a neighbour with a 2-storey house. So Alex is with her best friend, and Marcus and I are clean and dry for the night. We suspect that our house will be officially a lost cause, but that's a worry for tomorrow.
monday, august 28th, 2017, about 5 a.m.
#hurricaneharvey update 5am Monday (is it Monday? I don't even know) - awoke at our neighbour Brian's house (we're going to owe so many friends bottles of wine OMG PEOPLE ARE GREAT), and Marcus and Brian waded back over to our house to check on it. Marcus just called to tell me that while the water has receded, there's still water in the house, and there's still no way to get our SUV, because the water on the streets is too high (a bummer, because I'm hating having no car). He's grabbing a couple of clean tshirts and coming back with Brian - our goal today will be to somehow get to Alex, so our family is together again. From there, we'll wait for streets to become passable, so my parents can pick us up and we can stay with them while we figure out next moves (they live farther out of town, and so far their home has been relatively unaffected.)
Marcus has been amazing through all of this - displaying his trademark Jennings patience, taking things a step at a time. It's because of him that I haven't completely lost it - I'm generally pretty good in a crisis (usually only falling apart after everything is over), but a couple of times I approached the end of my rope yesterday, and each time Marcus pulled me back, helping return me to stoic determination. (And I'll feel a whole lot better today when we get back to Alex.)
The other thing that's helping? Writing these updates - it's helping me process each step, and your comments and reactions are making us feel less alone. So huge thanks for following along, friends.
More later today.
monday, august 28th, 2017, about 4 p.m.
#hurricaneharvey update 4pm Monday -- So. Another thrilling day. After Marcus got back from checking on our house (and confirming that there was no way that we were going to be able to get our car out), our next priority was figuring out how to get to our daughter, Alex. To give you some context, our neighbourhood, where we spent the night, is north of a major bayou -- one that overflowed, and caused the flooding at our house. Alex has been staying with her best friend, south of the bayou. So the trick was how to get her best friend's dad north of the bayou to pick us up.
Short answer: not possible.
So I came up with the brilliant (?) idea that Marcus and I would go to one of the high water marks on a street at the north part of the bayou, while Dustin (Alex's best friend's dad) would drive his truck to the high water mark on the same street at the south part of the bayou, and we'd wade through the high water to meet him.
Turns out the distance between those two points was about a mile. A mile of mostly chest-deep water (6'5"-Marcus-chest height, not 5'8"-my-chest height). As we approached, I started to have second thoughts, but decided it didn't matter: I needed to see my kid's face after 24 hours of not seeing her in this weather.
Suddenly this guy in a rain poncho approached us. "Do you need to get through?" he asked.
Marcus: "Yes, we have a friend waiting for us on the other side."
Guy: "No worries. These guys have a boat, and have been ferrying people across."
So after about 20 minutes of us standing in the now-cold, pouring rain (our poor dog shaking and terrified), a little boat with an outboard motor showed up and three guys told us to climb in. They took us about three-quarters of the way, slowly motoring past all these beautiful homes that had 5-6' of standing water in them. When we finally got as far as they could take us, Marcus offered them money. "No, we can't take that," they responded. "Beer money!" Marcus insisted. "No, no, no..." they kept saying.
"FOR HOOKERS AND BLOW!" I yelled. "Seriously, you're angels. Take the money -- you can behave as badly as you'd like from now on, your place in heaven is assured!"
They laughed, but wouldn't take the money. So Marcus pocketed his money, and we waded through the waist-deep water the remainder of the way to Dustin's truck. As I type this, I'm showered and dry, and have been fed delicious pho, and tea spiked with brandy. And most importantly, I've seen my baby's face. I'm feeling fantastic.
And if any of you ever see these guys? Look for their wings. Angels, I tell you.
Here's hoping all my Texas brothers and sisters are safe and dry. More when we get our feet under us a bit.