Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Harvey Day 5: Boat Launch No Go

My parents set out this morning to try to see their house. As of now we still have no idea of its condition. Did it take on water? We assume so. But they are the highest house on their street by quite a bit and water wasn't in the house yet when they evacuated, so there's hope. There's also houses a few streets away from theirs with 6 feet of water inside. We really just don't know and WE WANT TO KNOW.

So they set out in Eric's truck, my mom looking fab as always, now decked out in Eric's wader gear in case they needed to walk a bit.

In the words of my dad over text, "So we thought we would go see the house today. We tried to walk in from three different starting points. Got swept away in current on last try and decided to stop. Got within 1/2 mile. Damn."

So, on to Plan B, which apparently consisted of driving back towards Houston to see if Eric's boat was operational. He rents closed storage space... somewhere (despite living in Houston for half my life I still don't really know anything about the areas, names or roads outside of Kingwood, making me less than helpful in tracking the flooding over the last few days. I'd send Eric a text with some flooded area and he'd be like, that's an hour across town, and I was like I don't know, it sounded familiar! Back to google.). The storage lot was under water, but by some miracle his shed flooding was an inch below the boat motor and the boat worked! So it was rescued.

Eric is handy to have around and I feel like I probably shouldn't have made fun of him for spending so much grownup money on toys.

After an eternity, we got a short text of "Boat launch was a no go... kept hitting mailboxes that were underwater. Taking boat back."

Followed by one a while later from Eric that said "That was terrible."

Another million years later (like 6 hours) my dad sends a recap:
Launched Eric's boat in a street and were immediately swept into a submerged brick mailbox. Then tried to gun it to get in middle of road and hit another something. Very strong current hitting our side. We were being swept into a house so Eric floored it and purposely drove us into the top of an oak tree where we stuck nicely in the branches just to stop the madness. Quick thinking as we were four seconds from going through a large living room window. We were able to get ropes around a light post and got the bow pointed into the current. Took a hand axe Eric had in board for killing Alligator gar and cut off some limbs so we could get out of the tree. We got free, punched the engine, threw off the rope and headed to starting point. Immediately hit that damn submerged brick mailbox again but did get to calm water. What a disaster.
After that we had a beer and Headed back to the Heights for beer and food. Decided to try wading in again tomorrow. Glenda did lower engine and start engine and drive the boat into trailer all be herself as Eric gave directions from the water. She did a great job.
Eric followed up with "It was... not fun. Scariest situation I've been in in my boat and I've been through some doozies."

I feel like his "that was terrible" and mom's "boat launch a no-go" did not fully capture the situation of nearly smashing through a large window and landing in an oak tree. With a boat. On a residential street.

Meanwhile, blissfully unaware of the boat-in-tree situation, I just keep seeing images from my friends in Kingwood and they were breaking my heart.

Here's our highway exit:

Nearby shopping center:

A Whataburger I've never been to because I've never been to a Whataburger but that is close to my parents' house:

My high school football field:

A main road through Kingwood:

Catastrophic doesn't begin to cut it. People's homes have water up to the 2nd story. Hundreds and hundreds of homes.

I can't really talk about it right now; it rips your heart out and makes you feel helpless. As people start being able to get back in their homes to assess the damage, as they try to get vehicles that work (over half a million are flooded) to take them to stores that aren't currently able to restock, there will be so much need. Right now it's money from afar and specific items if you're close enough to hand them to the shelter that needs it. They will need more. They will need it for weeks after the world has moved on. I think right now, especially if you are far away, it's okay to take a breath and wait; wait to see where your time and money are best spent so they can help the most. This will be a marathon. If you're moved, set a reminder for 2 weeks to reassess your giving- see what new needs or organizations or on-the-ground help has sprung up, and give again. The devastation is simply overwhelming and the vast majority of people don't have flood insurance (my parents do, a requirement in purchasing the new house, thank god) and 8 feet of water in your house is financially catastrophic.

It's so hard to turn away from the coverage because it's not just my parents and brother, it's my entire childhood. My friends, many of whom moved back after college. Their parents, many of whom still live in the houses I visited and ate all their food as a kid. Every picture, every image is connected to a place where I have a memory. I'm not physically affected- I'm in a dry house having enjoyed a day of beautiful weather, so I can't complain and yet still the images are crushing. I know these people and I know these places and it's so much.

My parents and brother are headed out early in the morning to try to get to the house again. The water is receding and they think they'll be able to safely wade through the water left in the streets tomorrow. My heart and hopes are with them, and my car and credit card are ready to load up with supplies and drive them down as soon as it's possible.

Thanks for continuing the messages. Obviously, safety is still the priority and we're still so blessed on that front, but the extent of the damage and work ahead is sinking in, and it's a lot.

Luckily in non-flood news, Grandpa continues to do well and eat popsicles and dazzle his nurses. The kids are great. James's new session is almost back to his highest numbers before the losing-the-pool fiasco. I paid off my third-to-last law school loan yesterday; originally $64,000 it is now ZERO. Winston got a new bandana.

His jowls blocked all the handsome, so I moved it around to be a stunning little cape.

So there's a lot of good.

(And there's Winston.)

My friends on the ground in Kingwood continue to lift up others around them with their incredible help, coordination, action and generosity. They're lifting us up from afar as we read about it and cheer them on. I can't wait to get there and help them. Fingers crossed the roads are passable soon.

xoxo, LL


  1. Your posts make Harvey so much more real, so thank you for sharing - things like this will keep Houston in our thoughts and donations coming after the news moves on. So glad to hear your family and friends are safe and your grandpa is doing well. Congrats on paying off the loan.

  2. Your comments about Harvey impacting your entire childhood really hit home. I also grew up in Kingwood and left many years ago. My parents sold our house and moved downtown just a few years ago. They are displaced but fine, but I just can't stop watching for updates on Kingwood. It's hard to imagine all of my childhood memories being underwater now... Sending love and dry wishes to your family.

  3. Hi LL, longtime reader/lurker here (I believe I go back to 2009).
    As an attorney myself, I was afraid to ask if your parents had any kind of insurance, it can make all the difference in this awful situation.
    Sending many thoughts and prayers from Italy; the Houston flood got ample media coverage even here.

  4. SO good they have flood insurance. And wow, the boat. Things you just don't think of, like mailboxes and trees in the way.

  5. Those pictures are incredible. Thinking of your parents and hope the wait to the see the house ends soon so that everyone can get busy working on the recovery.

  6. Water is surprisingly powerful. I've heard of able bodied people drowning in only several feet of fast moving water and have experienced the feeling myself of struggling to cross a swiftly moving river that was barely deeper than knee height.

    I hope people don't take any unnecessary chances. Another few days won't make enough difference to make the risk of loss of life worth it.

  7. Hi LL - longtime reader and lurker here. I started reading when you were a 1L! I'm an Okie transplant to Houston and have been here about 4 years now. My parents and brother also live here.

    The devastation is surreal. It's amazing to think that 1 week ago, we were filling up our gas tanks and stocking our homes, thinking it would just be a long rainy weekend. And now - all of this.

    Thank you for putting a face and a personal story to the devastation here. I think people know it's bad when they watch the news. But when they hear personal anecdotes from someone they've been following for years, it helps to encourage engagement, both short term and long term.

    Thinking of your parents and hoping when they are able to make it in, they find a dry home.

  8. Also, i just want to say WOW on the loan, and WOW on the swim school. Two huge milestones. Although I have to say, I was completely shocked that $64K is your third to last loan. I am scared to ask the total loan bill, although looking at where you are today, it was clearly worth it (well, i hope you think that... i do). hoping your parents had better luck today making it to the house, and the news wasn't too terrible, and your mom managed to do it with her usual sense of style (waders and all).

  9. We are in Spring and our community suffered a lot of loss, too, but it's been hard to see how hard Kingwood was hit. Houston is an incredibly strong city and I know we'll all get through this together, but's been a hard week. If there is anything we can do for your family, please ask!

  10. I can only imagine what you're going through. Stay strong.