Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.
I have lived in Texas near the Gulf Coast for most of my adult life, and I have seen hurricanes, floods, and tornados. I remember a very bad flood in 1994 that took out entire neighborhoods in my town with feet and feet and feet of water. I remember being off of school for a week and having to get a tetanus shot from volunteering in the flood water when that happened, because that is the sort of thing you remember as a 12 year old I suppose.
Living here for more than three decades I’ve seen flooded streets, flooded homes, folks rescued from their car roofs, and heard stories of those who weren’t rescued in time. But, y’all I haven’t seen anything like this. This isn’t hundreds or thousands of people impacted. It is tens of thousands, or more accurately hundreds of thousands of people very directly impacted, and I would guess millions impacted to a lesser degree. Some are still riding it out at home on their second story waiting for a boat to rescue them. I am personally getting pleas from folks still stuck in their homes who know we have a boat, but I can’t get to where they are because the streets are flooded.
Others are already in a shelter safe from the immediate threat, but when it finally stops raining and the waters recede, they won’t have anywhere to return to.
Their home is just gone, or at the very least it is damaged beyond being habitable. Bad things happen when homes get wet with feet of flood water and you can’t just mop up the floor and move back in. There won’t be enough reputable repair companies to help most people with the tear out and rebuilding process in an orderly fashion, assuming folks even have immediate access to funds to get started, which of course many do not. This doesn’t even factor in the reality that rebuilding everywhere it flooded to the second story or higher may not be the wisest course of action.
The national news cycle will probably largely move on within a week or so. There will unfortunately probably be a new crisis or event that grabs attention, but for the folks here who don’t have homes or businesses to return to, the real crisis will just be beginning.
When you are paycheck to paycheck, as most are, and you haven’t worked in a week with many more paycheck free weeks likely to come, what happens? When you have multiple pets and children and now don’t have a place to live, where do you go? When schools and daycares are flooded and damaged for weeks to come, how do you go to work even if you business is still open with little ones who don’t have anywhere to be? Where do you put hundreds of thousands of people when the immediate crisis is over and the outpouring of support lessens? What hard decisions do you make as a community so that you aren’t back in this situation as 500 year floods seem to happen several times in a lifetime.
I have no clue as to any of that. The individual stories are heartbreaking. The collective devastation is hard to even comprehend, even for those who are here.
What I do know is that you help one person at a time one day at a time. The droplets of help and hope add up just like the raindrops that lead to the flood. Right now the needs have been boat rescues, new dry underwear, socks, toothbrushes, clothes, towels, diapers, blankets, blow-up mattresses, and food. For the pets it has meant crates, bowls, dog food, litter boxes, and make-shift cattle pens and horse stalls…this is Texas after all, and our animals aren’t all of the small variety.
This will all shift in the coming days as the shelter needs become more longer term for some and the rebuilding process slowly begins for others. If you haven’t helped yet, you will still have your chance in the coming days, weeks, and even months, so please don’t turn away when you see a need you can fill. The needs are tremendous and some are far more immediate in nature than a bureaucratic out-of-town organization can meet, though I’m sure that larger level of traditional help will come into play, too.
I’ve had many friends and family members just Paypal me money so we can make more runs to the store to buy what the shelters and people need right this second. No one gives a hoot who is tweeting what or who hates who or anything like that. That gets washed away as quickly as the concept of time and knowing which day it even is. I feel so thankful to be connected to people like that who don’t wait for a full fledged organization and tax receipt to make a difference. See a need, meet a need. Then repeat as long as you can.
We were personally thankfully spared from flood waters as we don’t live near a body of water and our drains kept up, but no one is fully spared when rain is measured in feet. Our ceilings just couldn’t take any more, and partially collapsed in the night, and again more this morning. My mother-in-law from Kansas has been trapped here with us since the airports closed, so she was camping out just a few feet away when it fell.
After the collapse it was raining into our house with more sections of ceiling buckling when we got through to someone who climbed in the attic and helped get sections of our roof patched with tarps. It is very red neck chic.
There were some minutes when we just thought one panel after another would fail and our entire second story would take on water. It still could, I suppose, but the situation has stabilized with the tarps in place. It is easy to feel helpless when nature takes the reigns, but we are still the lucky ones in this storm. Lots of people have literally lost everything, so what would normally be viewed as some relatively significant home damage is mild by comparison.
All that to say we are going one day at a time here. This is going to be a long haul event. I’ll still be posting as I can because, well, that’s my job. Josh and I both have to keep working as much as we can, and we are lucky to have that ability. It won’t be as timely as normal, but that’s hopefully okay. We’ll be using trip delay coverage for my in-laws, earning points on home repair and supply purchases, and looking forward for when we are able to one day go out of town and exhale.
However, that day isn’t today. Today is for accepting that you are in the middle of it, realizing you are still fortunate, and taking action to help those who need it.