Reflections from Hurricane Harvey

Two Gs in a Pod.jpg

This is one of my favorite pictures. It was a happy moment during a very tough time. My marriage was falling apart. I went from postpartum depression to full blown depression within a matter of months.

My mama and my baby were rays of sunshine during my darkest days.

If someone asked me ten years ago about my relationship with my mama my response would have been quite different. I’ll save full details on how our relationship has evolved for another blog post. Needless to say, our relationship has come full circle. My mama is one of my best friends and plays the most significant role in my support system.

With the uncertainty of Hurricane Harvey looming over the heads of all Houstonians, I contemplated skipping out on a long awaited, much needed (and already paid for) vacation to Los Cabos, Mexico. My mama assured me that she and Spencer would be okay and encouraged me to continue with my trip plans.

I’ve lived in Houston for most of my life so hurricane season is nothing new to me. Initially, I wasn’t overly concerned because the area we live in hardly experiences the same level of weather conditions as the city of Houston, itself. It’s not uncommon for it to rain for an hour or two in the city and Katy (a suburb of Houston) not experience any rain whatsoever. Of course, that isn’t the case when it comes to tropical storms and hurricanes.

Flooding, though? Nah, B. No way.

I boarded my plane Thursday morning hoping news coverage on Harvey would shift in a more positive direction for Houston. Nope. It got worse.

After several strong suggestions from me, homegirl (mama) was dead set against evacuating no matter what news stations were reporting. I called at least ten times each day while I was gone. I was calling so frequently there was really no reason for my mama to call me. So, when her name flashed across my cell phone screen I just figured that she was bored and wanted to talk.

Engineers announced they would be releasing water from two reservoirs (one of which is just a few miles from our neighborhood) in efforts to alleviate some of the pressure from the record level flooding. Water had already begun rising on our street. With Spencer in tow, mama packed up the hurricane supplies, a few days worth of clothes and made the 20 minute trip to my brother’s house.

My brother was also out of town that weekend. Although my presence wouldn’t have changed anything I felt so guilty for leaving them. My mama and Spencer only had each other.

My mama isn’t the type to show much emotion. Although, I could hear fear in her voice she did what she does best; be the rock of our family. She decided right then while we were on the phone that she was going to try to keep Spencer’s routine as normal as possible. She was going to comb her hair, bathe her and get her dressed each day as if they had somewhere to go. That is exactly what my mama did. The spunk and innocence in Spencer’s voice every time I spoke to her is what kept me from being a total wreck my last few days in Mexico. Well, that’s not completely true.

I called my brother and fell apart for a good ten minutes. We both felt terrible about our decisions to leave and were both concerned about when and how we would get back home.

I needed to get back to Houston ASAP. While my mama is our rock, I’m her right hand man. I was going to be the one finding resources and discussing options for whatever we were going to be dealing with if our home did incur any damage. Just like I tried to talk my mama into evacuating, she tried to talk me into staying put until there was a definite clear pathway into the city.

My mama also knows that when I truly make my mind up about something, despite what anyone has to say including my parents, I GO TO WORK. I also know how blessed I am because time and time again, when I don’t have all the answers, God literally makes a way out of no way for me. Getting back to Houston was no different.

Two flights, a car ride and bus trip later, I was home. After travelling for practically 24 hours straight I was exhausted but ready to face whatever fate waited for us at our house. My heart began to sink once we drove into the neighborhood. There was no way our house had been spared.

Once we made it inside the house, my mama and I instinctively headed in opposite directions to assess the damage. The only noticeable difference was the smell of damp water in the air. After talking with a neighbor, water rose doorstep level for mostly everyone on our street but never reached high enough to enter any homes. Blessed by the Most High is the only rational explanation.

I contemplated writing an entirely separate blog post about my experience trying to get back to Houston after the hurricane. But, there’s no need.

How can I complain about several flights being cancelled and being treated poorly by someone who may have just been having a bad day when our paths crossed? There are people that live two streets over from me that lost everything and at least 12 Houstonains who are still missing.

I also considered sharing how I gave back once I made it back to the states and the random act of kindness Spencer and I participated in. But, again there’s no need.

What matters is…I did what I can only hope someone would do for me if our roles were reversed; Spencer also got a first-hand lesson in humility and showing compassion for others.

I’m full. So full. Of gratefulness.

#HoustonStrong

Love you, mean it.
-Alicia