I only own a few of these pictures. Most were taken by friends and family around me.
A Letter to Texas from Katrina Survivors
Welcome to the survivors’ club. Whether you lost your belongings, your car, your home, a loved one or your entire neighborhood, you are not a victim and don’t let anyone label you that way. You are not helpless. You will get through this.
In the disaster zone, your brain won’t want to process what your eyes are seeing. You will see, hear and smell things you never thought you would. It will feel like you’re in a dream or on a movie set, because this simply can’t be the place where you lived.
You will feel like an ant trying to move a mountain. Don’t be paralyzed into inaction by the enormity of the task ahead of you. It can be done. Just keep moving. Any forward progress, even in baby steps, is good.
Salvage what you can. The smallest items will be precious reminders of the past. But recognize what is beyond repair and as painful as it is, throw it out. If you can’t, have someone else do it for you.
Don’t punish yourself or those you love because you (or they) didn’t store your family photos in the attic, move the car, save your vital papers, evacuate, buy flood insurance. What’s done is done. Let it go.
You are on autopilot now. Your adrenaline is pumping as you figure out where to live, find food, buy gasoline. You will get used to standing in lines. Use that time to bond with others who are on the same journey. Anger and frustration help no one.
Respect the rules of a disaster zone. Don’t cut in line. Defer to the young and the old who are most vulnerable at these times. Just because property is sitting in the middle of a street or dangling from a tree branch doesn’t mean it’s free for the taking. It belongs to someone. Stack salvageable items where neighbors can see them and potentially reclaim their lost property.
“How’s your house?” will become the new greeting when you see friends and neighbors. You will have a new way of marking time – pre-Harvey and post-Harvey. The definition of the word “home” will expand to include a shelter, a couch, a garage, a friend’s basement.
Disasters are great equalizers. They reveal people’s true nature – for better or for worse. You will find out who your real friends are and what love really means. Incredible acts of kindness will come from unexpected quarters. Beware of the few who seek to profit from the misery of others.
Feel the pain. Cry if you need to. Hug each other. Pray. Share what you have. Know that you are not alone, because volunteers by the thousands are on their way. Their selfless generosity will renew your faith in your fellow man.
Your instinct will be to rebuild an exact replica of what was, down to the last brick, board and beam. Consider carefully whether that is wise or even possible. Seek out ways to prevent future damage by rebuilding higher, smarter, stronger and further from the water. See this as an opportunity.
Accept the new normal. The past is just that. You can cherish the place you and your neighbors once called home where it will always exist – in your collective memories.
Its hard to believe its been a year already. What a hard year its been for many people. Time hop has been an endless string of emotions for me the last few days. August 25, 2017 the day Harvey rolled in to the Texas cost. I remember on this day laughing with my husband after making a joke about where is Harvey. Living as close to the coast as i do (30 minutes) we have a few “worries” a year as far as hurricanes go. And usually just about every time, everyone loses their minds and buys everything they can get their hands on. ( bread, milk, non perishables). But boy was I wrong. The 25th; the day the storm hit the coast, it caused a lot of ciaos down along the border. But we hadn’t received anything YET. As I went on to joke about ” here we go again, every one freaking out over nothing.” But was I wrong. That Friday the 25th of August was the last day I went to work and would be the last day for two weeks. I spent my weekend like normal and then in the middle of Saturday afternoon on August 26, It started raining. And it didn’t stop for 6 days. That hurricane must have heard me laughing at it the day before. Our front yard started flooding and I remember trying to measure it on my husbands truck tire to see how high it got. Sometime Sunday afternoon it stopped raining for a bit and the water started to go down. It was maybe a half a foot in my front yard. But that night; August 27th, it started to rain again. And this time it didn’t stop. By the time Monday morning rolled around, they had cancelled work for both me and my husband to “see what the weather would do.” We spent most of the day sitting outside watching the water rise. By the time we went to bed Monday evening, There was about a foot of water in our front yard. Tuesday morning my husband’s boss woke us up at 5 am with a phone call. “Hey, we are flooding over here, how are you guys?” We both got up and went to look. Over night the water had rose about another 6 inches and was up over the running boards of the truck. My SUV and mini van were going to go under if we didn’t do something so we drove them to the highest point in our yard that was still dry and hoped for the best. Our road was flooded in so the best point of action at that point was to get my husbands truck to the rock yard by the railroad tracks by our house and leave the cars in the front yard.
It rained and it didn’t stop for the rest of that week. We finally were flooded in and couldn’t leave our little town either way. So we kyacked to and from the convenient store for beer and snacks a few times a day. We spent the rest of the week on the porch watching the water rise. On Thursday, August 31st was the day the storm really came in and I remember sitting on the couch up and down all night just waiting and watching. The water level before we went to bed that night was three feet up on our porch. We were waiting for the water to come in the door. I spent Thursday night picking up as much as i could and tying up curtains so that if the water did come in, we would be able to save as much as we could. I just remember watching facebook with so many people begging for help. Its a surreal feeling watching people on facebook saying that they need someone to come pull them out of their house because the water is getting close to the ceiling and they can’t get out. But the one thing I am proud of as a Texan is that when it came down to it; we didn’t wait for the government to help us. We got out and helped each other. People with boats and big trucks got out and spent all day and most of the night trying to find people in the dark. You never understand how scary night fall is until you are out in it and all you see is water. You start looking for something that will give you an idea of where you might be and you bump into something with your boat. You look down and realize its the roof of someones house…
Luckily the water never made it into our house and it started receding the next day. By Sunday the water was down a lot and people were able to move around a lot more. But there was still the issue of not being able to get trucks with supplies in. Some MREs were air flighted in by the military. And people from as far away as Wisconsin were down here to help pull people out of houses and put Texas back together.
We were lucky by only losing our 2 cars, but whole neighborhoods around me were wiped out. 8 feet of water in peoples houses. Some people lost everything. The highway that I travel every morning to take my daughter to school and go see my parents had 10 feet of water on it. Its crazy and I still have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that this even happened. Here we are a year later, and so many people are still living in RV’s or hotel rooms. Some people just started over else where. You don’t know what its like until you live through it. And here we are a year later and Hurricane Florence is hitting the Carolina’s right now. They are expecting the same thing we got except they had a mandatory evacuation. We never had any warning. I guess all we can do now is wait it out…
These two pictures below are the same area of my front yard about 24 hour difference.