We have been enduring Harvey and its aftermath. It’s been a memorable week. Here is part 1 of 3 of our adventure.
Our small family of 13 (except for two college-aged daughters in Utah and Virginia) lives a little west of Houston. My husband and I grew up in southern California and then transplanted to Texas from Utah, so we are more familiar with earthquakes than hurricanes. The following are some of our experiences with Hurricane Harvey:
Thursday- August 24, 2017
Raymond (son) and I spent a heap of quality time together. We were looking for pants that were long enough for him, and we were finishing the back to school shopping. We were paying attention to tropical storm Harvey and listening to the educated guesses and the wonders about if or when it would re-form. I thought it would most likely just mean a lot of rain for us. I wasn’t that worried. By afternoon it had formed into a category 1. That’s not worrisome, but It did have our attention.
We ended the day with meeting his Eagle Project adviser and discussing his project. We headed home and recovered the house a bit after the long day.
Friday- August 25, 2017
Friday morning we paid attention to the weather. Harvey was now a cat 2 and would likely strengthen through the day before making landfall that night. At that point, the predictions of where Harvey was going were spaghetti on a map. There was not a consensus on where it would go or how long it would stay around. We had always said the children and I would evacuate from category 4 or 5 hurricanes. Our most likely evacuation path was always into San Antonio. That was in the direct path of the storm.
The unique situation of having 2 high-pressure zones was making the predictions very complicated. We were researching and attempting fluency in hurricane-ese. It was clear that the coast NEEDED to evacuate. They needed to be out of the way of what would likely be cat 4 force winds. They needed the roads clear and with heaps of rain coming…we didn’t want to be in a car on the road. We had heard about Rita and the disaster of an evacuation that was. We learned about what it meant that we would be on the “dirty side of the storm”. As the storm turns counter clockwise it picks up moisture from the gulf and dumps it all on the east side of the eye. Lots of rain.
We have an acre and our property is fairly high. Chris had checked floodplains before we bought. Last year in the memorial day flood we only had some expanded puddles in our yard. We were confident in our home in regards to flooding. We were less confident with high winds. We didn’t know what gusts we would get or possible tornadoes accompanying the swirling winds of a tropical storm. Our roof isn’t stellar as is.
All of this was kept at the parent level. The children knew a storm was coming, but the day was mostly normal. After having Thursday away from home, Friday was very focused on our house and children. Chris went to work as usual. The children and I cleaned the yard. We mowed the yard. We cleaned the porch…we didn’t expect hurricane force winds but leveraging a storm for cleaning the yard is never wrong. Harvey’s first impact was cooler weather. With a high in the 80’s I quickly found my first thing I loved about Harvey.
I also baked. We have lots of food storage but much of it involves electricity. Anticipating possibly losing electricity I made bread and cinnamon bread and cheese onion bread. Heaps and heaps of carbohydrates. I didn’t feel like we really needed food or water even for a week of being homebound so I didn’t race to the store.
Friday evening in anticipation of Harvey making landfall my husband’s school district canceled volleyball and SAT testing. That did get my attention. Cancelling sports in Texas is serious business. Chris picked up some fruit from the store and a little water.
Saturday- August 26, 2017
For us, Harvey’s landfall was anti-climatic. We saw it on screens…following its progress while watching Netflix. We had trouble sleeping. We knew the coast was getting hammered. Harvey was in Texas. We had a little light rain all day. In the unique physics of family life, because we had spent much of the previous day outside, the house was magically messy. We cleaned in anticipation of spending lots of time inside. Harvey quickly downgraded from a 4 to a 1 by that morning.
The initial push of the storm (at a cat 4) meant it had gone inland further than anticipated. There was still some debate as to where it would go once it hit the upper high-pressure front. We did know the dirty side of the storm meant lots and lots of raining unless the storm dissipated or could push away. We baked more and ate more and filled up buckets of water. 1 gallon of water a day for 11 people is a HEAP of water. We ended up with enough for 4 days.
We play in the rain. The young girls announced it the best day ever. They loved the big puddles…even the ones we wanted them to stay out of (our irrigation includes grey water). We aren’t close to rivers so the other water is just rain water…no alligators around.
The smell of the baking bread, the sound of the rain, freshly showered children, and football in the background made for a cozy day. Saturday night the rain intensified and the phone emergency warnings began. Flash flood warning. Flash flood warning extended. Flash flood warning extended a little longer. We’re thinking it might flood.
We measured the rain…about 9 inches. I thought it was more.
Little did I know what lay ahead….
Britt grew up in a family of six brothers and one sister and gained a bonus sister later. She camped in the High Sierras, canoed down the Colorado, and played volleyball at Brigham Young University. She then served a mission to South Africa. With all of her time in the gym and the mountains and South Africa, she was totally prepared to become the mother of 2 sons and soon to be 9 daughters. By totally prepared she means willing to love them and muddle through everything else in a partially sleepless state. She is mostly successful at figuring out how to keep the baby clothed, or at least diapered, though her current toddler is challenging this skill. She feels children naturally love to learn and didn’t want to disrupt childhood curiosity with worksheets and school bells. She loves to play in the dirt, read books, go on adventures, watch her children discover new things, and mentor her children. Her oldest child is currently at a community college and her oldest son is going to high school at a public school. She loves to follow her children in their unique paths and interests. She loves to write because, unlike the laundry and the dishes, writing stays done. Whenever someone asks her how she does it all she wonders what in the world they think she’s doing.