When we made the decision to move to Texas our fellow expats had loads of advice to help us out. Almost everyone that we spoke to had a friend who had lived or was living near Houston, and some had lived there at one point themselves. They had restaurants to recommend, their favorite places to shop, the best beaches to visit, and where to take the kids to explore the state. While everyone had something different to share they all had one thing the same to comment about… the heat!
Living in Doha for the past seven years we know heat. Even when we left the country for six weeks in the summer to escape it we still returned mid August to 52 degree heat and ridiculous humidity which lasted until Halloween. While the heat and humidity of Houston is sometimes unbearable we deal with it the same way we did in Doha, going outside later in the days and moving from one air conditioned place to another. The one thing that I was not completely prepared for and we were told about was the hurricanes and flooding.
Last week my husband sent me an email about a tropical storm developing off the coast, this was the second time he had sent me an email like this, his work provides regular updates to employees since they work down near the ocean. This email however accompanied a text saying that I should go to the grocery store and get some supplies, and that people were saying that this was going to be a big one. I dropped the boys off at school as usual that morning and made my way to the grocery store to find that I was not the one person needing to stock up on supplies. The aisle for water was empty except for 2 cases, I grabbed one and helped an elderly man grab the second and put in his cart. I had thankfully grabbed two large bottles of water a few weeks before just in case something like this happened.
I spent the day making sure we had everything we needed if we were not able to leave the house for a few days with the storm. That afternoon I went to the youngest muppets school to help set up for the book fair that would be taking place the following week. When I arrived I found a room full of PTA Moms reluctant to set anything up because of the weather forecast. We sat and visited while they came up with an alternative plan and told me stories about their past hurricane experiences. After hearing about what they went through with Hurricane Ike I began to understand why people were so worried. Two of the women had babies only days old and had to evacuate with small children to safety. There were places without electricity for weeks and some places with out clean water. No one was sure if Harvey was going to cause the same devastation but they were prepared if things went pear shaped.
That evening school was canceled for the following day and my husband was encouraged to stay home from work. So all day Friday we watched and waited for the storm to make landfall. The following days were filled with rain, thunderstorms and wind. We watched as the water rose in the parking lot around our complex, the drains started filling and we watched as parts of Houston and surrounding areas flooded. Monday things stated to not look so good around us, the rain would not let up and the water started rising closer to our apartment. We started worrying that we would need to evacuate, we were not sure where we would go or if we would be able to get out to any where safe with the roads blocked and the water rising around us. I started packing clothes for a few days and the muppets helped their father move thing on to top shelves in closets just in case the water started coming in. Thankfully friends that my husband works with said that they would come up with big trucks and boats if we needed help out. That night we barely slept, we watched the water levels late in to the night praying that we didn’t wake up to our living room flooding.
Our prayers were answered when we woke to find a new wind blowing through and the water levels descending. We were so lucky, we were safe, still had power and enough supplies to last us a few more days. We watched the news to see people who were not so lucky, houses underwater, valuables and property destroyed, it was heartbreaking. However the amazing thing about this whole disaster is the people of Texas. The volunteers that have come out to help complete strangers, risking their own lives, using their own boats and trucks to rescue people from their homes. Neighbors who we have never met asking if we are ok and if we had enough supplies. People lining up at shelters just wanting to help out and take care of the people affected by the Hurricane.
When we moved to Texas people had a lot of wonderful things to say about this state, one constant thing that everyone said was that the people are so friendly, nice and caring. After going through this experience I would have to agree with them. The people of Texas know how to take care of each other and amidst the devastation we were shown the true colors of humanity this week.
Today the sun is shining and the weather forecast is looking dry, things will start getting back to normal hopefully soon. This was one hell of a welcome to Texas but we are glad to be here and call this place our home! Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers for our family this week!