All of us who grew up on the coast know that hurricanes come and they go. I remember fleeing Hurricane Alicia in 1983 as a 12-year-old. My dad, of course, waited until the last minute to get out of town. This storm is like nothing any of us has ever seen in our lifetimes.
Like so many Texans, I’ve watched in utter horror as I saw the images of the destruction Hurricane Harvey left in its wake.
I first saw Port Aransas and Rockport – our favorite Texas vacation destination – flattened. I’ve watched my hometown, Texas City, be inundated with water. Palmer Highway, the main drag through town and a favored spot for cruising among teens, looked like a river in the pictures I saw on social media. Water surrounded the elementary school I attended.
I’ve read the terror that comes through in posts of friends and high school classmates begging for rescue. I read the frantic Facebook posts of a high school friend trapped in her flooded home with her diabetic son. I’ve seen videos of classmates and friends being rescued from their flooded Dickinson homes in boats.
Then came Monday when one of my cousins frantically called for rescue from her Houston home. My aunt was panicking and feeling helpless at her North Texas home. I tried to calm her down. But really, what can you say at a time like that? Finally, hours later, a neighbor in a canoe showed up and paddled my cousin, her husband and their dog, Phoebe, to higher ground. They ended up at the George R. Brown Convention Center for two days like thousands of others.
I’ve made countless phone calls to worried family members. Then when the storm turned toward Beaumont, other family memories were in the line of Harvey’s fire. It is an area I know well, having spent many holiday and summers at the home of my grandparents. I watched Port Arthur, the town of my birth, be buried under water. I begged one of my aunts to leave her Beaumont home. She did so on Monday as the waters rose. We are thankful because her house saw more than a foot of water.
So far, everyone is safe and for that, I am thankful. There have been too far many lives lost in Harvey’s wreckage. But even as I’ve watched all this devastation, I am have been repeatedly amazed by the heroism of average everyday people who have risked their lives to save others. That was a sight to behold.
It will take years for the coastal areas to recover. I have no doubt that Texas will recover and one day be stronger than ever. Harvey won the battle. He will not win the war.