My heart goes out to the men, women, and children in the Texas Gulf coast area in the aftermath or should I say continued assault of Hurricane Harvey. The destruction of property and life is devastating, and my thoughts and prayers are with them and the volunteers, National Guard/military, and first-responders working so hard to help rescue the thousands of people stranded by Harvey’s wrath.
I always thought the fact hurricanes can be predicted and the people had time to get out of the way made them less scary than a tornado which can come out of nowhere in a matter of minutes and destroy everything in its path. Of course, that was before I moved to Corpus Christi, Texas as a brand-new Navy wife.
A year later, I was pregnant with my first child when Hurricane Gilbert was projected to make landfall in Corpus. We lived in an area called Flour Bluff. It was close to the base, Padre Island, and the water. We planned on evacuating to somewhere inland. We called a phone number of a company that would board up your windows for a fee if you called them. We did, they said they’d come by, they ran out of plywood, so we ended up taping our windows instead. The hours waiting knowing a hurricane was heading our direction were nerve-wracking.
Losing a bit of time on the road meant we would have to drive further to find lodging especially with a puppy along for the ride. Everyone we knew headed for San Antonio–the closest large city near us–so we headed west paralleling the Rio Grande to the Big Bend National Park area. After calling every motel in our AAA Road Guide (printed version, because this was before the internet), we found a sturdy looking two-story cinder block hotel fashioned in an “L” shape with its balcony walkways, room entrance doors, and windows on the inner angle of the “L”.
We checked in and were getting settled in our room when the power went out. We and our motel neighbors all exited our rooms to see what was happening. The sky over the hotel was blackened by swirling clouds that hadn’t been there when we arrived. A storm was barreling down on us.
“Y’all get back in your rooms! A twister is coming!” These words came from the nice lady in the motel office who had run out to yell at us before running back into the office. We bolted into our room.
“No, this can’t be. We’re on the second floor. We should be underground!” I grew up in the Midwest and had hurried to the basement on countless nights when tornadoes threatened our area. We headed to the bathroom. It didn’t have windows, and the plumbing would maybe supply more security.
During the time it took for the twister to pass, we saw daylight twice in our windowless bathroom. Our puppy wet all over the floor, and I said more Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s than I had in my twenty plus years of being a practicing Catholic. I seriously thought I wouldn’t live to see our child born.
The tornado lifted back up into the clouds as it hopped over the motel only to descend again and destroy a trailer park right next door. The hurricane made landfall south of Corpus Christi spawning multiple tornadoes across the region. San Antonio had over twenty twisters reported that same day.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Corpus Christi, and the news has been inundated with the damage a Category 4 hurricane can inflict on a huge area. Flooding, tornadoes, storm surge, winds strong enough to topple homes, trees, and turn steel girders into pretzels are examples of what a hurricane brings as it hits the shore.
Many times when the hurricane makes landfall it will lessen in severity, but Harvey is in a holding pattern and dumping fifty-plus inches of rain on the area. Floating colonies of fire ants, alligators and snakes infest the waters, these brave people are traversing to get to safety.
No electricity, no air conditioning, or water for days paired with tearing out wet carpet, drywall, and furniture for days. Insurance or lack of flood insurance is only one headache. Groceries and basic needs are cut off by the severe conditions and in a large urban area like Houston, the stores’ shelves may be bare of items we typically take for granted–diapers, formula, water for example.
My life wasn’t changed irreparably by my encounter with the first hurricane I would experience, but this week tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people will have to live with the repercussions of Harvey. Remember them in your prayers, make a donation to the American Red Cross or volunteer at volunteerhou.org