As we discussed earlier, and everyone knows Harvey was intense. We had no idea what we were in for. This is part 2 of 3 from our very memorable week.
Sunday- August 27, 2017
Hurricane Harvey gave us lots of lightning and rain and little sleep. I discovered my first bucked I had put out to measure rain had a crack in it…the next bucket I had put out overflowed. Let’s just say…a LOT of rain. No more math of volume and dividing the volume by the area…just lots or water.
No church. We had decided to have a family church meeting. We were late to church in our own home (kinda…we made an executive-easy decision to just relax..but I still found it funny). We had asked for volunteers to give 2-minute talks and we sang and talked about storms and a Savior who walks on water and parts water. We sang “Master the tempest is raging”. After our little meeting, we had decided to do family history.
Children and various screens were scattered about on couches and chairs reading journals or finding out how closely related we are to George Washington (6th cousin 7 times removed…relative finder…it’s fun!). I gathered all of our scrapbooks and labeled them and looked at pictures. It rained. Flash flood warnings. More flash flood warnings.
Our first tornado warning. That’s no fun. We have 9 children at home. We don’t fit in one closet or one safe space. We don’t have heaps of safe spaces in our home. We checked the sky a LOT. We did talk with the children about where we would go. We didn’t actually go anywhere. Extending the tornado warning. Another extension to the tornado warning. We watch and wait and watch and hear of tornadoes touching down in other areas. Still a beautiful grey sky above us with fluidly moving clouds.
We baked. CARBS. It’s like I was trying to hold the flooding back with gluten…or possibly ensure we’d be more likely to float. Our house smelled terrific! This hurricane let me have such baking fun.
We still felt so comfortable it was guilt-inducing knowing that other people were desperately facing the brunt of the winds and rain in far less comfort. Evacuations. Emergencies. As we sat and looked at pictures and read. Chris and I took turns looking for updates…trying to keep the news away from the little children. We watched local weathermen and texts…we saw hardly any other tv or national weather. That afternoon, we had some lights blinking and lost power for about an hour. When it came on I started baking again…then we lost power finally at around 5…I had bread in the oven. We kept playing games…now by candlelight. I lose miserably.
I came face to face with how much meat we would need to eat in the next day or so. How do I redo my menu? How long can I make everything last AND eat up the food before it spoils? How do I retrain my children from opening the fridge when they are used to getting water from in the fridge?
Losing power is an adventure. Especially in a hurricane. We could power our phones through our cars which were both full of gas. The children LOVE candles. So much. At this point, we realized that of course, Lisa (or 2-year-old) had only one association with candles. Birthdays. So we lit a candle, she started singing and wanted to blow it out. Ad nauseum. We ended up handing her a tea light to hold. She started sucking on it. Bouncing balls and candles, out of control little bodies and candles.
We are told they will fix our power in under an hour. A few hours later we are told that only 30 homes are affected. They will get to it as soon as possible. Basically, we aren’t a priority. This might be a few days.
We were getting more reports and pictures of the damage along the coastal towns. It’s just. SO much. I felt so helpless. I waded out into the rain to the car to charge my phone and I sat and prayed and listened to the news and cried. I stayed out there for about 2 hours not wanting to go back into the rain and needing a break from adulting. I needed to not look into the eyes of my lovely children and knowing what’s happening to other families outside. Blessedly there is another adult in our home. When I came back in I found the little girls snuggled up on all the couches with my husband reading aloud by candlelight.
We join our city and church and everyone to pray that the storm moves away from us, or towards us…or just MOVES. There is talk about the storm staying on until Thursday. I adjust my menus and wonder how long we will be all home-bound.
Monday- August 28, 2017
Can we all just assume that we are going to extend the flash flood warnings and just let us know when it’s done? PLEASE stop waking us up to tell us it might flood. We’ve figured that out. Tornado warnings off and on all night as well, so we were checking the sky as the rain kept pounding down. We attempted to sleep…that doesn’t work so well in this hurricane. Heaps of rain.
We wake up to no rain. A few of my early birds and I go for a walk. We check out the puddles and discover that the drains on our side of the street are working better than the other side of the street. Water is draining into our neighbors’ yards. There is talk of the storm moving. I think of our prayers last night.
Although the public schools were cancelled until Wednesday we decided to home school in an abbreviated form. I focused on an attempt at normalcy with the children and Chris focused on a generator for the refrigerator. Our neighbor loaned us a generator Chris discovers that although we just mowed the lawn Friday, our gas can is completely full! Fueling the generator won’t be a problem…assuming we get our electricity back in a few days. Our food is fine and all my stressing about menus dissolved very quickly and comfortably back into my original plan. Lots of food. All the time.
On the home school front, my 7 year-old has decided that reading is going to click…today. She goes from tortured sesame street “HHHHH AAAAAAA TTTTT” to “hat”. Done. She races through her little books. I’m amazed. I was just trying to have a schedule and have fun. My heart was definitely not in home school… but minds are amazing things.
We started hearing about friends not far from us were needing rescues. Two families we know walked out of their homes through chest deep water, walking for up to a mile to where they could be picked up. We are sober. We do the math. Chris, Raymond, Lydia, Ben and I could all carry someone. That leaves my little 11 year-old twins…who would not be tall enough to wade. We talk about why we didn’t evacuate again.
Can you imagine a sinking vehicle and trying to get that many car seats and buckles undone? Can you imagine us ALL trying to get out through a few windows? Most people who die in hurricanes, die IN water and the vast majority of those are in their cars. We talk with the children (because they have overheard some amazing rescues) about what we would do…sit on the roof. The 13 year-old revels in the prospect of breaking through the roof climbing out and getting to ride of a helicopter.
That all sounds MUCH safer than us wading OR us driving anywhere. Then we focus on where WE really are. High and dry. AND we only have little puddles around the yard. The road isn’t flooded, except a small part down the way. We still have a way out.
We help our neighbor with her generator…her husband works in Houston and is necessary for keeping power going so he’s been sleeping in town. We help her with her horses…one of the gates fell…we slosh through mud happy to help.
We play games in the afternoon.
Just FYI Risk doesn’t go well by candle light either.
Rebecca and Susan wonder if they’ll have electricity for their birthday (they will turn 12 on Thursday). I wonder.
Time stretches out as if there is so much stress and worry that the normal 24 hour day cannot contain it. I wish the land could stretch like time seems to. The children play on, while we watch and wait to hear about the next people being evacuated…or worse…not yet being evacuated. Our older children are a great help playing and generally joining in our facade of calm.
We no longer notice flash flood warnings.
We hear word that the Houston Temple has flooded. One of my favorite thoughts on the subject was that allowing that flooding is as if God was saying, “It’s okay. My house was flooded too. We’ll get through this together”.
There is finally talk of the storm MOVING. Yes it’s towards us…but MOVING!
The little girls sleep in the living room again and Chris reads to them by candle light. I wish nights were like this, if only I could carve out the storm and the stress and the lack of electricity…).
A full day of no power in the books.
And the adventure was far from over.
(Stay tuned for Part 3 of our adventure.)
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.