HURRICANE HARVEY: My Story + Tips

Sunday, September 03, 2017


So in case you missed it, we had a little storm swing through and devastate the south east region of Texas. A storm called Harvey...maybe you've heard of it?  Yes, I'm still trying to find some humor in this situation, but unless you've been living under a rock you've heard of Harvey and it's record breaking destruction.  What's even more impressive is the storm's widespread destruction after it downgraded back to a Tropical Storm, but I'll let The Weather Channel update you on all of the stats, because there will be more in the upcoming days. As I right this, West Texas and Louisiana are STILL dealing with the storm that never ends. But this post is all about my story through the days of Harvey.  It's not that exciting, and if you're my friend on Facebook, you know it already, but I felt the need to document it.

TIP #1: PAY ATTENTION TO TROPICAL STORMS
My story begins Tuesday, August 22nd, when I first caught wind of a Tropical Storm (TS) forming in the gulf.  To be honest, I don't really pay attention to the weather.  Houston's weather is pretty consistent during the Summer: Hot As Hell, with the occasional rain, so I don't check it.  I heard about the storm via a co-worker. My only concern at the time was finishing up my projects that were in construction before we received some rain.   Wednesday, I still didn't think much about the storm. I went home and carried on with life as usual. It wasn't until Thursday that I started to pay attention. By the end of the day on Thursday,  TS Harvey had been bumped up to a Category 3 Hurricane scheduled to make landfall over Corpus Christi (3.5 hours south of Houston).

TIP #2: HAVE AN EVACUATION PLAN PREPARED BEFORE A STORM
Even though we weren't going to get the brunt of the Hurricane (the walls of the eye), we were still going to get some weather and Houstonians responded accordingly.  While I was at work, I received updates from friends that gas stations were being pumped dry and there was a run on bread and water in all of the stores. I started freaking out, thinking nothing would be left by the time I left work. I also started thinking that I didn't want to stay in town for a Hurricane. I came back to Houston a few weeks after Hurricane Ike, and it wasn't pleasant. The thought of losing power, or being stranded was non-ideal, so I started researching pet-friendly hotels in Dallas. 

TIP #3: CALL HOTELS TO CONFIRM THEY ARE PET FRIENDLY
Since I have pets, I couldn't just go to any hotel, and there was no way I was leaving them behind. I definitely recommend researching your neighboring cities before a storm to see what options you have to evacuate with pets. If you have friends and family that can take you in, that's even better, but if not, you'll more than likely end up in a hotel, and you'll need to know their policies. I used websites like Trivago, etc., that listed some hotels as pet-friendly, but I called to make sure.  Some of the hotels listed as pet-friendly were NOT.

TIP #4: BOOK YOUR HOTEL EARLY IF YOU KNOW YOU PLAN TO EVACUATE
If you know a storm is coming, you may want to start booking your hotel as early as possible, especially if you think your area may be under a mandatory evacuation. Hotels will get booked pretty quickly. After 40 minutes of research and phone calls, I booked myself at La Quinta Inn in College Station.

TIP #5: TELL OTHER PEOPLE YOUR EVACUATION PLANS
I've been living with my friends during this interim time between leaving my old apartment complex and moving into my new construction apartment. It was key to discuss each other's evacuation plans in case we needed to get a hold of one another and to also just check-in.  They were heading to Fort Worth, and I decided to head to College Station because I didn't want to drive 4 hours with the pets.  I also told other friends in Houston and my friends and family out of state.  Heaven forbid you go missing or loose power, at least people know the general area in which you were headed. 

TIP #6: LEAVE EARLY
Friday morning I woke up, and my friends had already left for Dallas.  I packed up the car and my babies and we headed North West to College Station. If you're unfamiliar with Texas, College Station is home to Texas A&M, aka what I like to call Aggieland.  It's about 2 hours and 40 minutes from Houston.   I didn't want to risk getting stuck on the road if there were a lot of evacuees so I tried to leave as early as possible on Friday. Since Houston wasn't under a mandatory evacuation, and I was leaving in the middle of a work day, the traffic was free-sailing. 
My furbabies in their carriers...They were none to happy about their travel arrangements...
TIP #7: ASK HOTEL IF THEY OFFER NATURAL DISASTER EVACUATION DISCOUNTS
We arrived in College Station early Friday evening and the weather was still pretty good.  There was only a slight drizzle here and there.  I booked our stay at La Quinta Inn & Suites. They were pet only, but they also waved taxes for hurricane evacuees. I set up house for myself, CoCo and Chanel and we basically lived in that hotel room from Friday evening until Monday morning. It rained non-stop in college station until about Monday. A lot of things were closed on Sunday except for Pizza Hut, so I ordered from them. By Sunday night I was going stir crazy. I love my cats, but I needed human interaction. Before Zack and Emilie left for Fort Worth they said I could come stay with Emilie's family up there if I needed to, so I packed us up again and headed to Fort Worth Monday Afternoon. 

I stayed in Fort Worth from Monday Night to Wednesday morning. Zamilie and I headed back to Houston because we received word from some friends of theirs that the water had receded and we could make it all the way back to the house.  We stopped by the grocery store in Forth Worth first to bring back supplies to donate. I packed my car with as much stuff as I could fit with all the stuff that I had packed.  

We came back to a dry house. Apparently the water had made it up to the garage, but had not entered the house. We were very lucky in this sense, as a lot of people in Houston, lost their entire homes and vehicles due to the flooding from  Harvey.  We also had lifted a lot of our stuff on top of dressers and our beds to avoid water from ruining things if it had made it inside the house.

So like I said, my story isn't all that exciting, but I did have some road-trip adventures with the kitties, and they saw more of a car than I think they ever wanted to in life. I will also say that Survivor's Guilt is a legit thing. No I didn't lose a comrade in a military expedition, but being safely tucked away in College Station and Forth Worth while watching Houston be devastated gave me so much anxiety and sleepless nights.  The first thing I did when I got back was deliver donations, and go out and seek opportunities to help people. We were very fortunate to not be affected by Harvey, but so many people were, and I think we need to help every one that we can!

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