HARVEY, AND THE TURTLE SWIMMING IN MY BACK YARD

IMG_6213It’s been a week now since Harvey started steamrolling his way up the Texas coast, dumping 30 inches of rain in my neighborhood over a 5 day period.  I live in the Buffalo Bayou watershed, and that water is still lapping against the bottom floor of my four-story building.

Mercifully, that water has receded about a foot and a half in the last 24 hours.  It’s not unlike a clogged bathtub drain – since they keep releasing water from the reservoirs into Buffalo Bayou, they do not expect this water to fully drain (and that’s if there’s no additional rain) for another 10-15 days.  Most other places in town, the water is receding or has receded.

I’ve been working from home for over a week. Thankfully, I only lost power for 15 minutes on Saturday morning and it came back on and has stayed on.  Tuesday I did go out, in the pouring rain, because I was going a little stir-crazy.  I made it to the Thai place close by and got some takeout. While I waited, I chatted with a much older gentleman named Bill. It was nice to have some conversation that did not involve posting warnings to other coworkers (we are spread all over the Houston metro area) and checking in on people where the water was rising.

It’s not unusual to feel helpless during disasters like this.  My health is not allowing me to do much in the say of hands-on help for people, I have no cash to really help anyone, and though I live on the fourth floor, I sustained some water damage in my apartment due to the wind, prior undiscovered damage that this storm brought to light, and relentless, pounding rain.  I’m really worried about the mold that is already there and that will have a chance to grow until I get my turn on the fix list (there are many apartments on the first floor of other buildings that had rising water in them that are priorities, and I get that).

I know people who have lost everything (again) and people who have lost cars, and some people who are just stuck because we are living on a series of islands in this area of town and if you want to go north/south from here it is nearly impossible. It’s insane and difficult to describe what’s going on down here in Houston.

This is my fourth…fifth… major flood/storm in the last 9 years. I’ve really lost count how many times this creek that is often just a trickle of inches has gone over its banks (about five feet), but this is the first time the water has risen to within a foot of the balcony on the first floor.  It’s only gone down about 18 inches since the rain stopped Tuesday evening.

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I do the only thing I can do in times like this, document the situation as it happens, encourage others, and take photos.  Some of the photos you see on this post were taken with my iPhone or Canon over the past couple of days as the sun came out.

I noticed, while taking these photos, something was moving in the water. I know there are snakes down there, frogs, and who knows what, but a turtle surfaced in the water.  Of course, I named him Harvey.  How could I not?

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The apartment management visited yesterday to survey the damage and get me on the list of getting things fixed.  We opened the door to survey the door frame damage, and I pointed down to the turtle.   They were all amazed.  Through all that yucky, brown water, swam this little guy.  And from up here, if he looks like that, he’s probably a pretty good size.  Harvey finally made some people smile!

Some people thought I was delirious because I was saying a turtle swam by my apartment, but here he is:

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While I am ready to get back to work, I hope some of the routes north open up, otherwise it may take me over an hour (or more) to go 8 miles when it comes time to try go to the office. The Buffalo Bayou runs all the way to downtown and everywhere there’s a bridge over it, it’s under water and will be for a week or two.

Still, I’ve been able to find some beauty in the mess, and that’s saying something, because it’s a big mess!  All of Houston must reach deep inside to find the silver lining, and keep trudging forward, because Harvey left us with devastation that will take months to clean up.

The best part of this mess is seeing the best of humanity amid the worst of nature.  People helping people, no matter their color, creed or political slant.  Volunteers being turned away because there are too many.  Communities everywhere donating to those in need.  Trucks pulling boats from other states coming to rescue people from their homes. That’s still happening, by the way.  Amazing. People can be amazing when they need to be.

I hope this goodness continues to spread across the United States.  It’s too bad it took a natural disaster to draw it out, but I hope it’s a start.  Please be good to each other out there.

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