Have you ever heard the stories of how President Lyndon B. Johnson used to drive people visiting his ranch right into the pond without telling them that he had an aquatic car that also functioned as a boat? I’m gonna need one of those.
We live in Houston. It floods occasionally. It’s life and has been for the past 15 years since I moved here right after I married Mr. Byrd. Many times I’ve sat at home and watched the flooding coverage on TV or social media. We usually wait a day or so and then venture out to see what the flooding still looks like at local parks or other areas that we know are safe.
But then Hurricane Harvey entered our lives. All the sudden the flooding was real in a way that none of us ever wanted to experience again. Kingwood, the area of Houston where I live, flooded so quickly and unexpectedly on the last day of rain during Harvey. It was terrifying.
On that day, we woke up exhausted and still without power but that wasn’t what was on our minds. That day I remember laying in bed, scared to put my feet down on the carpet, thinking I would put my feet into water because you could hear the boats and helicopters from our bed. High water rescues were going on in our own neighborhood and the neighborhood down the street from us. It was scary. Our home was dry but our morale was low and we were worried about the flooding getting worse. We decided to leave and head to our church, which we heard was open for anyone needing to charge phones or get hot food.
The images of seeing people walking away from boats, trash bags of their belongings in their hands that we saw on the way to our church that morning is still fresh in my mind. Minutes after we arrived at church it opened as a shelter to take in flood victims. I still remember the faces and stories that I heard that day. And yes, I know I have Harvey PTSD, as does most of Kingwood.
Fast forward to almost 19 months later when on Friday I was going to pick up my older girls from school with my youngest. I knew a bad storm was coming and was hoping to beat it.
As I turned into the area where their school is, the wind picked up to a level that I had never seen before and rain came down in swirling sheets. Within a minute my van was surrounded by water. My van’s dashboard blinked and my power steering cut out. I found a higher driveway and pulled in, watching as the water swallowed the street behind me almost immediately.
We were stuck there for two hours as we waited for the street to clear. The roads were so bad where I was that eventually when the school finally let the kids leave, our two kids that I was on the way to pick up, walked home a different way.
We walked the neighborhood that night, looking at the many trees that were down and talking about the high water lines in the yards. The helicopters circling overhead reminding us all of Harvey but we were all safe and dry.
It doesn’t stop there. That would be great if it did.
Fast forward again to Tuesday. Rain with the possibility of more flooding was forecasted for the entire week, with the worst of it forecasted to start on Wednesday. This time I wanted to be ready so Tuesday morning my youngest and I ventured out to the grocery store. I loaded up on groceries that would be easy to prepare without power. As we were shopping a heavy rain started that you could hear throughout the entire store. We waited by the exit until the rain seemed to calm down a little and made a run for the van. We both got soaked and the groceries were beyond water logged but I just wanted to get home.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t get home for 7 hours.
The roads were quickly filling with water and I was already nervous because of what happened on Friday with my van. Our church was halfway between the store and my house and I thought that if I could just get there, I would pull into the parking lot and wait it out. I debated in my mind if I should stop or keep going. Right before the turn for our church, my power steering went out again for a second before coming back on. God decided for me. I pulled into the church parking lot which was already flooded. I found a higher spot, and we ran into the church.
Let’s just say that I was glad not to be standing in a stranger’s driveway but I’d also like to skip church for the next few weeks. I’ve seen enough of it for awhile.
The flooding around the church was something I never thought I would see but the building stayed dry. My husband was working from home, where he was safe and dry but the water in the street was halfway up the mailbox. There was no way for me to get home so we just sat at the church.
Our older two kids were stuck at school until 6pm when a friend took me in her high jeep to get them and then took me to scout a way home. Finally around 7pm we pulled into our driveway and unloaded the still soaking wet groceries.
We are blessed though. Last night 400 homes in Kingwood flooded. I can’t even imagine how many people lost their cars in the flash floods. There were still kids waiting to be picked up from school at 10pm.
Today my kids are home. The school is open but after two late days at school and so many panicked texts from them during the floods, it’s a day to rest. Plus they need their strength for hauling heavy boards later. It’s decided – we’re building an ark. Tutorial coming soon.