As of right now, we are 12 days away from being 6 months post Harvey.
If you’re new around here – welcome– but let me fill you in. We live in a suburb of Houston, Texas. On August 28th our town flooded due to the release of a dam to the north of us that was trying to deal with the high amount of rain we were experiencing. On top of the water that came rushing down the river at us in the middle of the night and the 50 inches of rain that we had already received, this area of Houston flooded to unimaginable heights.
We live along a river in an area where it meets a lake. Flooding happens here sometimes, most of the time due to the powers that be to the north of us releasing water from the dam. The road that runs alongside the river will flood and the people that live in the raised houses along the river take their boat in and out to get to their home until the water goes down. It’s just normal.
What happened this time with Harvey was not normal, it was a nightmare. After days of watching the news nonstop and seeing the rest of Houston flood, our power went out and suddenly we were in the dark to know where the water was or what was happening.
The water covered half of our town. 40% of people lost their home. 67% of businesses flooded.
Our area of town was an island with no way in and no way out. Our home didn’t flood, we were safe, but our family was at the shelter as they brought in the elderly they had brought out from Memory Care centers and the families who were so shocked and scared, not knowing what would be in store for them in the coming days – weeks – and months.
It was a hard time. I’ve wrote about it briefly that you can read here.
So where are we now? 6 months post Harvey.
Our town went from an island to a beach. The river between the dam and our town is lined with sand mines. When the water came rushing down, it left piles of sand, some 4 feet tall in places. Our favorite park that bordered the river just opened up last week because it took so long to remove all the sand.
However the sand is still standing in the riverbed and there’s now a huge island of sand where the water used to be. It’s very dangerous because if any flood occurs before they’re able to remove it, the water won’t have anywhere to go…. except back into people’s homes.
Seeing that park for the first time was heartbreaking. The destruction there won’t recover for years and eventually some of it will just become part of the landscape. It’s a new way of life.
Our friends are starting to move back into their homes or back downstairs. In the past 2-3 weeks several friends have started moving back into their homes if they had been in an apartment or temporary rental. Others had been living in their upstairs while they worked on the downstairs and they’re finally moving back downstairs again. It’s taken 6 months for this to happen.
One friend’s husband started growing out his beard during the flood and vowed not to cut it again until they moved back home. Duck Dynasty won’t be calling anytime soon because he saved this past Sunday.
Another friend told me a funny story (but swore me to secrecy) about how she cut up some food after realizing that their kitchen knives were thrown away after the flood and when they moved back home this week they realize that they didn’t have any – until dinnertime.
When you’re having to replace everything you own, sometimes you just forget the small details – like kitchen knives.
The stores that flooded are opening back up.
There’s one area of our town where almost all the businesses and restaurants are located that was hard hit by the flooding. Slowly they’ve been reopening. Chickfila was the first restaurant open and they opened the drive thru two weeks after Harvey. The inside of their restaurant opened 6 weeks later.
Slowly since then others have followed and in January there was a huge boom of stores reopening.
Some stores are adding lines to show where the water was in the store and it’s mind-blowing to stand under the lines and realize that those stores are miles from the river.
The high school is opening in March
Our town has two high schools. One of the flooded so badly that it took weeks just to pump all the water out of it. Since then the kids had got on a bus every day and been bused 45 minutes away to a bigger high school that had room for them.
On March 9th the educational wing (classrooms) of the school opens back up. Other activities will still have to be in shared places with other schools but so much good has come from this. The two high schools put on a joint production of Fiddler on the Roof last month. All the sudden a line that used to divide our town between the two schools has been been gently erased.
Anger towards the new superintendent has been fading as the huge hurdle of merging two schools and renovating a flooded high school has gone almost seamlessly.
The emotional toll is getting better.
Hearing rain isn’t scary anymore.
Life feels more normal as we no longer have to drive further away to go to the store or see the constant garbage trucks hauling away another houseful of belongings.
The community has come together to ask the Governor of Texas to help prevent the dam to our north from flooding us again.
But I still can’t watch video of anything Harvey related.
A flood watch came across my phone screen this week and my heart stopped for a second.
Next month our Target reopens, which is only one bridge away. In two weeks they’re taking that same bridge down because it crosses the river and the rush of water coming down it washed away some of the supports below it.
Everything is improving but it’s taken 6 months to get to a place of semi-normalcy. It’s going to take years to get back to where we were but honestly we’ll never be the same. Maybe in some way, we’ll even turn out better.