It’s been 50 hours since the sun came back out. That’s the kind of thing that you keep track of after 24 trillion gallons of water just fell on your state.
50 hours and so much has changed.
Yesterday, I watched as a few residents of a local assisted living community were evacuated from their homes because they had lost power.
A friend and I did our best to assist employees there who hadn’t had a break in five days. Five long days that their co-workers hadn’t been able to come in to help because of the waters that had divided our city. We served meals to residents, walking down dark, hallways shining flashlights and pushing a meal cart since most couldn’t safely come down for breakfast. We did our best to explain the power outage to the residents in a non-scary way and helped how we could for breakfast and lunchtime.
We heard stories from the employees, about how some of them had lost their homes to the flood, but they still hadn’t left the residents of this home and continued serving them, with smiles on their faces. I was, and still am, in awe of them.
Yesterday, I had to explain to my kids why all we were offering them (again) was peanut butter sandwiches and trail mix to eat.
I watched as they went from whining about our lack of options to somber and then, amazingly, to giggling as they tried to process “the grocery store has so much water in it it’s almost like a big swimming pool!”
Finding non-scary ways to explain this situation to my kids is becoming easier, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
Yesterday, we blew bubbles on the driveway and played with chalk as helicopters continued to fly over our heads. My kids were desperate for a few minutes to just feel normal again. I watch spunk return to their eyes as they were able to run around again in the sunshine.
Today, there are needs as far as the eye can see. But in the middle of a busy morning and afternoon helping, we found a few minutes to let the kids, just be kids. Today, we blew bubbles like there weren't helicopters still flying overhead and sirens in the distance. Our kids know that there is something very wrong with our city. I am proud of them for how patient they have been as we have been helping where we can. How they (with some coaxing) took it in stride as our electricity has been sketchy and as we gave them trail mix + peanut butter sandwiches for lunch AGAIN today. These precious kiddos have been spared more than they know this week, but they are still DESPERATE for tiny moments like this to just be kids. This afternoon they got to be happy, oblivious kids playing on the driveway and giggling with mama. Somehow through their giggles they didn't realize I was still choking back tears from a long day loving on our hurting city . For 45 minutes this afternoon they felt normal. #hurricaneharvey #bubbles
Today we got groceries for the first time since the storm hit. I watched my kids literally SQUEAL that my husband was able to score some apples and nectarines for them. They danced around the living room with excitement to have fresh fruit and even a bag of chips. I overheard my oldest tell his sister “this tastes so good, it feels like we’re having fun!” and I didn’t know whether I should laugh or cry at that.
Today, as the waters went down we sent and received a steady stream of texts with pictures of destroyed homes. Images I’m not putting here because it’s just too sad to look at.
Today, I watched in amazement as people found the most creative and unique ways to help one another.
Moms who can’t go join house-gutting relief efforts because of their children, joined together to sanitize dishes and wash clothes for people who are beginning to go through and try to salvage what they can from their homes.
I’ve seen people going out of their way to help a friend of a friend’s neighbor and it’s a beautiful thing.
People are coordinating hot meals for first responders and doing little things like bringing fresh socks to police officers who have been non-stop serving our wet city and have bleeding, blistered feet.
Local businesses are bending over backwards for our community and for their employees.
Every time I think I’m done being emotional at the beauty of humans coming together this city and the way people are loving it, surprise me yet again.
Today, I drove down a road that was covered in at least 5 feet of water just two days ago.
48 hours ago I was staring at a river covering our road, and today I sat there in traffic. I tried to picture it in my mind what all the water looked like as I stood there on Tuesday but it still wouldn’t register as something that really happened. How can there have been SO MUCH WATER? It doesn’t make sense. I’m not sure if it ever will.
But the water is going away now and the roads and bridges are starting to open again. Slowly but surely our city is connecting again and it feels amazing. Water can’t keep us apart forever.
Today, I think I finally ran out of tears (but I make no promises about tomorrow). I don’t think any of this has truly sunk in yet for most of us. We are all in a sort of survival mode. It’s all about getting through this moment, this day and helping those around you.
Today, many of those who still have jobs to return to, went back to work. Our city has started to come back to life and it’s encouraging to see. We’re starting to feel a bit less like we are in an “end of the world” movie and more like this is something we will get through together after months of hard work.
Tomorrow, we gut more houses and sanitize more dishes. Tomorrow we continue to work together to rebuild what we lost and lessen the burden for those that have been devastated the most.
Tomorrow, the weather forecast says “sunshine”.
I wasn’t sure if I would keep writing about Harvey after the storm had passed, but I’m finding that it helps me heal and process what is happening. A few people have commented and messaged that reading these posts has helped them begin to process and heal as well, so for now, I will keep writing them. Also, my posts focus around the city of Houston because that is where I live. I know that this hurricane was devastating to many other areas as well, and I don’t mean to diminish that, I’m just sharing our stories from here as best I can.
Starting this week, you will start to see me posting regular, every day type of stuff again. Things like how to sleep better at night or tips for dealing with toddler tantrums. This blog is my full time job, and my family’s income, so taking a break from writing my usual blog posts is not something I can do. I’m just adding these Harvey updates for my own mental process and for those who are helped by reading them.
I feel very fortunate to still have a job I can do even in the middle of all this, and also one that can be saved until the late hours of the night if daylight hours are filled helping our city.
Thanks for reading and for all of the support and love that have been poured out in the comments of the Harvey posts thus far. I haven’t had the energy to reply to each one, but I have read each of them, and can definitely feel the love.