And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground. Exodus 9:23
Wednesday, August 30th, 2017 – This morning the sun was shining in Houston when I turned on the news. Maybe the worst of Hurricane Harvey has passed.
Back in the nineties I lived in Houston for a few years. By day I worked for an oil company. At night I took continuing education classes at Rice University.
One evening, sitting in a philosophy class listening to a lecture on Exodus the wind began to blow outside the classroom window. Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt as I watched the big oak trees bend. A crack of thunder made me jump and a bolt of lightning lit up the sky.
Outside the rain was coming down, hard and steady. I ran to my old BMW certain I would be able to drive the short distance—less than two miles—home. Before I got out of the parking lot, the car started to make a knocking sound, taking on water.
I scuttled back into the building and called Dave on a pay phone to let him know I wouldn’t be home anytime soon. I had lots of company: the lobby was filled with dripping students and teachers, waiting for a break in the storm.
Forty-five minutes or so later, Dave showed up in his slicker and galoshes. I was thrilled to see him until I realized he expected me to walk home, in the dark, in the rain. But there was really no choice. We set out on our journey, looking for the safest route, but found water running in the streets, eddying around sign posts, rivers up to our knees.
The next morning the streets were clear. The only signs of the evening’s deluge were a few tree branches in yards and mud on the sidewalks. Dave and I shuttled the car over to see Louis, our mechanic, who found no permanent damage.
My tiny, localized flood was one short, scary evening.
The people of Houston are used to tropical storms, heavy rain, flooded streets, power outages. Harvey is something different: endless days of record rainfall, entire neighborhoods under water, displaced people, losing everything. It will take years to recover.
I’ve checked in on a few friends I still keep up with in Houston. They are all safe. This storm has made me miss them. They were the best part of the years I spent in Texas.
It’s hard to watch from a distance and wonder how best to help. This article in Consumer Reports gives a few suggestions from providing housing through Airbnb, to donating blood, to adopting pets from Texas shelters.