Harvey’s rains hit late Saturday night and it has been a non-stop adventure of making sure missionaries are safe, that we are prepared as a family, supporting Aaron in updating parents and checking on apartments and flooded cars, evacuating to the mission office, checking on the height of the swelling rivers, returning home the next day and mucking out homes. The storm of the century has brought a new dynamic to mission life and we’re up for the challenges and service it brings. We’ve had very little sleep, no flooding in our own home and we’re all safe.
With church cancelled, we went on a family walk to see the effect on the bayou close to our house. As we walked the clouds continue to move in a circular motion from the south to north. Our thoughts this day was that maybe this would be all there was to Harvey. Mostly effecting just Port Lavaca in our mission and maybe Victoria.
Not so, the rains picked up again Sunday night as Harvey headed our direction now as a tropical storm. A tropical storm that didn’t want to move. It was hard not to be entranced by the images of flooded areas and continuous rescues shown on T.V. occasionally interrupted by reports of more rain and updates of new challenges coming our way. With new information and a voluntary evacuation notice, we had a family council and determined it would be best to evacuate to the mission home late Monday. Although, I had prepared the second floor of our home with 6 float tubes, 2- 10 gallons of water, 2-32 cases of water, food supplies in Jessie’s upstairs bunker and the necessities to cook with if needed. Though our home never did take on any water, our decision to evacuate put Aaron in a place to serve the missionaries better that evening.
Returning home the next morning, I updated our 72 hour emergency kits for Texas circumstances…..water, wetness and evacuation. Leaving with them the way they were would have been useless if the items had gotten wet. Though many things were in ziplock bags other things that had been thrown in were not. We had sisters that were on mandatory evacuation that ended up staying at the mission office with us came to our home and we updated their food supply making it travel friendly as well.
As we were checking on some of the missionaries’ apartment on Wednesday, it was apparent that it was not going to be inhabitable. Aaron and I helped get what was salvageable out and throw away what was not. As we were doing so we talked with and helped others that met the same fate in their apartment complex. Many were discouraged but others shared with us their gratitude to God for being able to get out and save a few precious items from being ruined knowing it could have been much worse. I love to meet people that know and love God. As well as seeing them turn to Him in difficult circumstances and recognize his hand in their lives.
After attending a district meeting on Thursday, Aaron and I went to a street in Houston that had been especially hit hard and got to work. I spent most of the next 3 days in the home of a woman in her late 60s who I would describe as a hoarder. Her house was full of stuff from the floor to the ceilings and the place smelled like wet dog mixed with sewage. No Bueno but I am grateful for masks. Many members, missionaries and a lady that randomly came up from Sugarland with her 10 year son have spent hours each day helping her get all the wet destroyed items out of her house, sort through things she thinks she needs that may or may not be salvageable, determine what clothes to be saved and washed by sweet members of the local RS and clear out her garage to store what needed to be kept. Aaron has spent hours tearing down sheetrock, pulling out wood floors, and directing the missionaries around the mission to get out and help. Most have never done work like this before and some need more direction than others. Once they understand all that goes into mucking a house and why, they are able to jump in with both feet and get a lot of work done.
We have two towns that are still underwater and the water won’t stop rising until sometime on Monday. The rivers are so swollen that it will be days before some of the homes are even accessible and Aaron may have to move more missionaries to other areas if the flooding continues. The total rain fall for the storm ended up being 52 inches. We have been to the areas where the bayous raised 30-40 feet and had run like rivers with 5-10 feet of water for blocks. The volume of water is astounding and as much as we had, it has disappeared just as quickly. If you were to drive through areas of the city that were not touched by the floods you’d have no idea that Harvey even existed. For those streets hit by flooding it is a war zone. The piles of debris are building by the minute as homes are mucked out, furniture is stacked on top of each other, and sheetrock, wood floors, cabinets and you name it is thrown on the front lawn.
The kids are doing well. They love the idea of no school for two weeks. I know crazy. They had only attended three days before the storm hit. Aaron has taken the boys out to muck houses; they have loved destroying a few walls. They will have more opportunities to do so during the next two weeks. Hopefully that will curtail some of the boredom that comes with no school. Jessie has been spending a lot of time with a girl that recently moved into the ward. Together they have gone to the Glazery with other girls from the ward, Urban Air, made play dough and went swimming. For her it is like summer never ended. Despite all the craziness life is good and we feel extremely blessed.