Saturday, April 28, 2018

How We Survived Hurricane Harvey - Part 2 of 2

This post is a continuation of How We Survived Hurricane Harvey. Read Part 1 here.

Matthew 8:26-27
He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” 

Sunday, August 27th
11:30 AM
The firefighters dropped us off on the main street in front of our neighborhood. We were greeted by dozens of other people who had also been rescued. Instead of getting out of the rain to the shelter up the road, these people stayed behind to help others, like us, get out of the boats so that the firefighters could move as quickly as possible to keep on rescuing.

A few yards up the street there was a little parking lot for a small local business. In it's parking lot were several large trucks whose owners were volunteering to use to take people, again - like ourselves, up to the shelter, which was the neighborhood elementary school. At this point, we started to get separated from Joe, D'lana, Hilary and their kiddos as they walked the quarter mile to the school while we took a truck.

When we first arrived at the school, there were dozens of people and their pets hanging around outside under the awnings. We walked into the front office to check in, and we were offered blankets and baby food. To this day I have no idea who was running the shelter up or how volunteers were chosen (unless spur of the moment) or even how they got so much food and supplies to the shelter as all of the roads accessing it were flooded. Only boats and very large trucks and similar vehicles were able to get through, and even those were risky because of how fast the waters were flowing and rising.

But we were safe and dry, and relieved. So very relieved. Joe and D'lana and the others were shortly behind us. Cameron went back to check on them when they arrived, but after that point our survival journeys separated. They didn't stay at the shelter long because they made contact with another friend nearby and trekked their way to their house.

Me and the boys settled at a little cast-iron, cafe-style table and chairs in the main hallway as Cameron walked around to take everything in. When he came back, we hung around that table for about an hour or so. I was so thankful when a volunteer brought us food. I believe it was a couple of hot dogs, Hawaiin rolls, some kind of salty snack (for the life of me I can't remember) and a banana. Not much, but enough to settle our stomachs for a little bit.

As I saw other moms with babies trickling in, I had a desire to talk with them about this ordeal we were all experiencing. But I regrettably never got the nerve to strike up a conversation with any of them.

We actually ran into a handful of acquaintances too. We made some light conversation, but nobody was in the mood to talk much. One of the people I ran into was Alexis, a friend of mine from high school.

Hurricane Harvey Shelter
Selfie of me & Alexis & the top of Axel's head - haha!

It was so nice to see Alexis there. She kept me company on and off for the rest of the time we were there.

We eventually made our way to the library and settled into a little area that looked like it was designed specifically for story-telling time. The area's lights were dimmed, so it was a pretty peaceful and cozy area compared to the rest of the school. Another little family of 3 (two parents and a near 1 year old) settled there too. We found outlets here to charge our devices. At this point, both boys were pretty bored and restless. Even though we streamed Little Baby Bum for them, it only quieted them for a few minutes at a time. So we took turns entertaining the boys, resting, and walking.

I had prepared myself mentally for spending the night there. I hope that against all odds it wouldn't happen, but I prepared myself for that nonetheless. Cameron was often on the phone with family trying to figure out if anyone could make it out to us. 2 or 3 different people attempted to make their way to us, but they couldn't get through the high waters. If someone could just get through the floods and take us to his parents' house, we could finally have a true rest.

2:30ish PM
After nearly 3 hours at the shelter, Cameron tells me to help him get the boys and our stuff together. We're heading out! I didn't really believe it, but I strapped Axel to me and grabbed the diaper bag while Cameron took JT and the backpack. We walked up and down the front of the building looking for our ride. I made eye contact with a man driving a truck who was obviously on the lookout for someone, but we passed him up at first. When we turned back his way, Cameron made eye contact with him and asked, "Are you Brad?"

I thought, Who the heck is Brad? But sure enough, that was him, and he was our ride. Alright, I guess we're trusting this Brad guy with our lives. I didn't have time to question it. We loaded up in the back of the cab of his truck (I don't remember the model, I just remember that it was a BIG truck). I was behind the driver's seat with Axel strapped into the baby carrier on my front, Cameron behind the passenger's seat, and JT between us in the middle.

Brad offered us a brand new, unopened box of Cheez Its that tasted like heaven. JT gobbled several handfuls of those down before falling asleep. Brad was very conversational... I was surprised to learn that he didn't even know my in-laws. He was a close colleague of Cameron's Pawpaw and uncles. He was also very knowledgable of driving through high waters.

That car ride brought a lot of peace and rest as both boys fell asleep and we had the comfort of knowing we were soon to be safely out of this storm with family.

On any normal day, it would take about 20 minutes to drive the direct route from that school to my in-laws. But because of how flooded those roads were, we had to go a completely round about way with lots of back tracking to stay on the high roads. And even then we had several moments with the waters sloshing up against the bottom of the doors. It took about 45 minutes to drive us there, but it felt like longer to me.

3:30ish PM
As we walked into my in-laws' house, the ONLY thing on my mind was a long, hot shower. JT was so  excited to see his grandparents and was immediately right at home.

The entire day didn't even really register in my brain until I looked at my mother-in-law, who had tears in her eyes and a look of sorrow on her face. I'd never seen that kind of look on her face before. That's when it hit me - we just went through something traumatic.

We Survived
The rest of that day is a total blur. I just know that I did take a very long, very hot shower almost immediately. And we watched the news all afternoon and evening. That night we were blessed to sleep on a nice, roomy, soft bed with Axel close by in a pack-and-play and JT in a crib in the room across the hall. I knew this was a luxury that thousands of others around us did not get to enjoy.

Houston Flooding
This photo was taken from the second story hallway of my in-laws' house. The upper story windows look out onto the retention pond in their neighborhood. 

Hurricane Harvey Neighborhood Flooding
A drone captured this image of the front of our neighborhood, including our street. I believe this picture was taken the day after the raining stopped. Our house is barely cut out on the right, but you can see our red truck circled in yellow. Joe & D'lana's house in not pictured here. The blue star is right above the school shelter we stayed at for 3 hours.


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