Sunday 27th forever changed Houstonians. It’s hard to describe the last 8 days. Sunday morning, the water started rising. Brian already had told a 78-year-old neighbor that he would check on her if we started to flood. That morning, her house had 3 feet of water and it was rising. Brian gathered neighbors, a pool float and went to rescue her and her dog. She came to our house that had no power with nothing – a pair of pants with holes in them, no shoes, a cane and her only prized-possession – her dog Harrison. She told me she thought she was going to die sitting on attic steps in her house and was preparing for it.
And that was the beginning…
Throughout the day, even after the rains stopped, the water continued to rise. The husbands on Hazelton teamed up, pulled out James’ 24-foot fishing boat and put it in two houses down from us. They also took down the kayaks and set off. They rescued 60+ people that day including a couple with a 4-week old baby, a 93-year-old lady, a woman in a wheelchair and countless animals. Every time I looked up, another family or person was walking through the tops of our yards in search of a dry house. They didn’t stop coming. I kept thinking where will they all go? What happens if the flood waters continue to rise and come into our house? In all, our Hazelton crew took in 30+ people among our 7 powerless houses. We had four elderly ladies in our home who all needed special care. Reid called our house – the nursing home on Hazelton. One neighbor fired up his grill and started passing out all the food he had. I knew we lived on a special street in Houston and this night was no exception.
For those not familiar with Houston, it’s BIG. The Houston Metro area is bigger than New Jersey. Flooding impacted all areas. We can drive an hour in ANY direction and someone has flooded. Imagine that for a minute and you’ll understand the scope of this storm.
On Monday, the water started to recede in our neighborhood – just enough to allow some family members to come get our guests. Our original guest remained because she had no family. She had no numbers to her friends because they were all in a cell phone at her flooded, wrecked house. She had no money, no credit cards, nothing.
By Tuesday, the roads were slowly clearing. The rain continued but the bayous were now in their banks. We started at a friend’s business. We moved onto a friend’s house and each day it repeated itself. We bought boxes, bubble wrap, supplies and kept texting each other on who needs help, where are you and when we will be there. Even if you were “lucky” and only had 6 inches of water, you had to move everything out of your house. Your floors were ruined, cabinets completely damaged and more.
The days began to blur together. You’d wake up in the morning and think, where do I go today? Who needs help? We passed out breakfast tacos and checked on our elderly friends. We realized they needed help and soon were back to help them pull items to the curb, save the special items and just give them a needed hug. When 93-year-old Bea broke down in my arms, I lost it. To think of all she has been through and to see her house completely destroyed with photos of her deceased husband sitting in flood water is heart wrenching.
I didn’t watch the news. I didn’t check Facebook. There was no time. And, there was no room in my heart to see any more devastation. I’m sorry to the countless friends that I haven’t had a chance to reach out to and that I know that flooded. I knew you had a network to help.
The boys did their part – helping their close friends box up, moving items to a curb or a safe house, passing out food to anyone working and more. They also played with friends. They had help time and downtime. It surely will be a week they won’t forget.
As we began to rebuild in our neighborhood, other friends began evacuating. Homes that were originally dry are now underwater and will remain underwater for another two weeks. The owners sit waiting. It’s like a slow death.
And…during all this, life doesn’t stop. You don’t get a break. It can get worse. People still die. Even if their home is flooded, people still lose their parents or get rushed to the hospital. Kids still remain in the ICU as their homes flood. Babies are still born even though they now have nowhere to go home to. You worry about your business. You worry about where 10,000 kids will go to school now. Life still moves forward even if you wish it could all be back to normal.
We can’t even name the number of friends that flooded. The list is too long. We know we can’t help everyone, but we gave a good try. We started with those that had no network and we will continue to help. This city is strong. The people are strong. But, honestly, it’s awful. The debris piles high. The stench grows. The heartache continues. Every single day, I hear another story that makes me want to cry. All this, and we didn’t personally flood.
I know I’m surrounded by the best network of friends and neighbors. Those that will help others without a second thought. Those that see the need and deliver without asking a question. Those that stopped everything they were doing and for 8 days only focused on helping others. How lucky are we.
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