Hurricane Harvey – please go away

Everyone was rescued, even the cat

I imagine that most of you have seen this photo and your heart sinks. It is hard to imagine but it just gets worse with our reservoirs releasing water to protect their structural integrity.  I, and people around me, can’t help yet because so many roads are flooded and we don’t need to add to the rescue attempts. I got to the supermarket today, less than 5 minutes away, and started asking the staff how they had fared. Quite a few had water in their homes but none devastating. We laughed about how good Gorilla Duct Tape was and wished each other well. I am on the north of the city which is much less badly affected but areas near Lake Conroe have been evacuated and that is further north than us.

As I approached the supermarket, I could see a police car blocking the bridge over Spring Creek which is now a raging torrent bursting over its banks. Our creeks are mostly rivers but they can dwindle down to almost a trickle when there is a drought. You must all feel so frustrated looking at the TV and wondering what you can do. The Red Cross website is hard to access at the moment but your money would be so appreciated. I have survivor’s guilt, stuck in my house, unable to go to and volunteer. This morning I cleared my closets of everything that might be useful. I have towels, sheets, clothes, shoes and even a pet crate to donate.

Kim of Glover Gardens has an excellent series of posts about the hurricane and ways that you can help. As Kim pointed out, we don’t want you to travel here yet unless you are a specifically trained volunteer (Red Cross, for example) and they will start arriving at airports over the next week or so. There may be a need for volunteers in other parts of Texas where the evacuees will go after the immediate triage. Hope is in abundance with people like Mattress Mack, a local furniture magnate and benefactor. As soon as people were being evacuated, he opened the doors of his furniture stores for people to stay. Can you imagine that kind of generosity? Then there was the Cajun Navy and all the boat owners who came from all over Texas.

We have a wonderful phrase in Texas – “I wasn’t born in Texas but I got here as soon as I could”. That spirit will help us through this. Last night someone with a giant Caterpillar truck came to the rescue and people were helped up ladders into the truck. The news reporter asked the police officer who the volunteer driver was. The policeman said you can ask him but he doesn’t speak English! Actions mean so much more than words right now. Some of our medical facilities have had to evacuate and I felt so sorry for the patients and families. My heart goes out to psychiatric patients and those with dementia. I am struggling to keep my anxiety under control but ironically I am really good in a crisis. Teddy is still in Austin, on his third visit to the doctor. Now he has reacted very badly to some bug bites and sometimes he gets blood poisoning with the red lines going to his underarms. Really, Teddy???

I saved an armadillo today! As I came back from the supermarket, I noticed a disoriented armadillo crossing the road to our subdivision in daylight. I stopped the car and persuaded him to hurry up before he was squashed. Maybe he will be under my deck tonight, safe and sound? Now I have a dilemma. My dead mother made me promise never to give away the teddies we had bought her. Her childhood was teddy deprived but that’s another blog. We are all allergic (including the cat) to stuffed toys so I have had to put them in the attic. Despite my promise, I think I would like to donate some of them to a shelter where the children have lost everything. I am going to sleep on it and if you are reading this from heaven, Mum, send me a message in a dream.

Hurricane Harvey update

Its bad, really bad. We live in a small city north of the main metropolis of Houston and although parts of our neighborhood are flooded we are on higher ground than most. Maybe you just think of a skyscraper city but in reality we are one of the largest cities in America with a population of 6 million people. Before people it was, and still is, a very large delta system on low lying land draining into the Gulf of Mexico. You could compare it to somewhere like Bangladesh but we have many more resources (and oil refineries).

You might wonder why we didn’t evacuate but this storm developed very quickly and you need to plan very carefully to change road systems. In any case, how do you evacuate 6 million people and where would we go? We learned some lessons from previous evacuations. More people will die on roads than if they stay at home, even if it is flooding. This is a catastrophic weather event and Rockport is devastated. Every waterway in the greater Houston area has flooded its banks.

Teddy is stuck in Utah because all flights have been cancelled. He is now planning to travel on Monday from Utah, to Denver, to Austin and then take a rental car. Right now he could not drive from Austin to our home as all routes are flooded. He is in panic mode because he feels frustrated being so far from home. I had to counsel him to calm down and think rationally. He was running out of medication that you cannot stop immediately without a risk of death so he phoned United Healthcare and that was sorted. Then I persuaded him that getting here is low on his priorities and all work meetings will be postponed. I picked up my cell phone just now and had to delete 6 messages (in the last hour) regarding flash floods, tornadoes and other issues in my immediate area.

This is my yard flooding

Rain, Rain, go away

The photographs show what it is like in my yard which is not in a flood zone during the heavy bands of the storm. One blessing is that it comes in waves which allows water to dissipate somewhat, ready for the next wave. It calmed down about an hour ago, so I put on my ancient rain boots (that I now know are leaking) and my rain poncho. Debris had floated down my French drain (dry creek) blocking the water flow like beavers’ dams, so I gathered it all up and went to visit some of my neighbors, especially the older ones. Although we are not in immediate danger, this is a really stressful situation. We worry about ourselves and even more so about all the people in danger. As soon as this leaves (and this will not finish for days), I intend to go back to volunteering. There will be many Red Cross and other volunteers/federal workers travelling through the airport with specific staging instructions.

On a final hilarious but poignant note, I noticed that one of the volunteer airboats had two men dressed in camouflage and a giant Confederate flag on the side. I suspect the flag was always there but as I said to my friend, they could be wearing full Nazi regalia and I would get on their boat!!! Houston has historically been a bonded, community oriented city no matter our ethnicity. The good Samaritans that you have seen are working incredibly hard in dangerous situations. Outside help cannot reach us so the authorities have asked anyone with a safe boat to help the rescue. So, if you really think that ANY MORE STATUES need to be removed and be protested about, please reconsider and put all your efforts into helping Texas recover from this. If you have nothing else to do, we will need people to raise money, actively volunteer, remove debris and rebuild. This is a time to think about what it means to be a community member and a proud American.


Can you see me?

Can you see me?

Heaven help anyone that is afraid of lizards in Houston this year. They are literally everywhere! This little fellow is a green Anole and if you catch his eye he will reveal his bright red fold (a dewlap) under his chin and puff it in and out. Kind of like a flasher… He also has pretty blue eyelids that you can just see in this photo. One of my kitty cats, Toffee, was literally addicted to lizards (they have a taste that cats love). If there was a competition, I would be the world’s best lizard catcher. Their tails will come off and regrow when they are predated. If you hold one of these little ones in your hand you can feel the tiny claws on their feet and their little hearts beating fast – am I a predator or a good Samaritan? One big black one bit me on my palm; ungrateful lizard!

This shot was taken at Mercer Arboretum, following on from my last post. I mentioned that the gardens had been damaged by flooding and this is a shot of the creek below.

Cypress Creek in abeyance

Cypress Creek in Abeyance

It is probably hard to imagine that this little creek not only broke it’s steep banks but 7ft of floodwater ravaged Mercer Arboretum. Here is a link to an article about the arboretum’s flood. The creek is always silty but it is still full of fish, especially big catfish, alligators and snakes. Given the devastation it is astonishing to see these new plantings below.

new beds of flowers

new beds of flowers

Lilac Crape Myrtle Blossom

Lilac Crape Myrtle Blossom

Crape Myrtle trees are the stalwart of the south – they can survive drought, flood and even frost. On our property we have three hot pink trees, one fuchsia and a miniature deep red. They brighten my life with their eagerness to live in harsh conditions. This is a Google link to various color varieties. One neighbor has a particularly pretty variety in palest pink but with mulberry leaves.

An array of waterlilies

lily threesome

As most of you know, Houston, has had devastating floods this year. Cypress Creek is really a river but with our mix of drought and flood it can go from a trickle to a torrent. It runs from Waller County in north west of the Houston area, through the Mercer Arboretum and then into Lake Houston. The Arboretum had only just repaired acres of woods that had been destroyed in our 10 year drought when the creek completely burst it’s banks flooding most of the new work. The volunteers must have been devastated. As soon as it opened again, we went to see what was left and we were surprised that some areas were still beautifully planted even though half of the park was closed.

In the next few posts, I will show their new color palette. This is a link to my previous post magenta and yellow palette.
lilac lily

Lily pond in Mercer Arboretum

Lily pond in Mercer Arboretum