Sunday morning came and went. As the water started to recede in some areas, a glimmer of hope sparked. Unfortunately, for each story of rescue there were equally as many that painted the picture of desperation and loss. On our street, the water was slow to drain. With each small sprinkle of water, panic ensued. Around mid-day, the streets began to show concrete, so Lucas got on his bike and rode to the water line. He could cling to sidewalks and get to the front of the neighborhood. At the entrance, he found a DPS officer blocking access to the main road. He was not headed to work.
In the crisis and helplessness of the night, I knew that not everyone was awake. In an attempt to reach out to our community, I formed a Facebook group at 2am titled “ECL Harvey Check In.” For those that were staring at phones and TVs, we began reaching out through digital prayers and fears. Sunday morning, the sleepers joined in and we were sharing our home statuses, our health statuses and just sitting in the waiting together. One of our friends was 40 weeks pregnant when the storm came in. While watching the water rise in her neighborhood, her stress induced contractions. By late Sunday afternoon, we saw on the group that she was calling for a boat rescue.
Her neighborhood was completely inaccessible. After loading her family of 4, her mother in law and her dog into a rescue boat, they were driven to an interstate overpass which was high ground for a vehicle to pick them up. Once we knew that they were headed to a place we could access by car, all systems were go to participate in rescue. One family made it to the shelter point to take the dog. Mom, and later dad, were taken to the hospital to have a baby by way of garbage truck to get through high water. Lucas and my girls loaded his big truck and headed out to pick up our overnight guests. While they did not understand the adventure at 4 and 2, they knew that their home had too much water and their mom needed help with the baby. That provided the perfect opportunity for a slumber party with the Hilbrich girls.
A local church in the neighborhood opened as a Red Cross shelter that day. As the needs began to scroll on community boards and the overwhelming devastation was more and more apparent, I ransacked the house for needed supplies. AJ and I struck out. We could safely drive on the path to the church but I was not prepared for what I saw. The building was packed.
The smell of flood water.
They were already well beyond their maximum capacity, and we were only hours into this nightmare. And for those that had made it though the last 24 hours without water in their homes, the quantity of STUFF that was being dropped off for donation was unbelievable. People wanted to help.
This was more than anyone could handle. But what option do you have when you wade through chest high water to a boat, are placed on a transport truck and are delivered to a shelter door? The desperation was palpable. I stayed for 30 minutes and felt helpless and afraid. I had slept a total of 45 minutes in almost 36 hours and I did not have the capacity to wrap my guilt filled mind around going home to a dry house.
As I settled our houseguests, the weight became real. Both of my girls wanted to sleep on our bedroom floor, still shaken from the previous night. I knew in the last hours of Sunday night that one of two things was going to happen. I had to either wake up and get to work or prepare for a dark cloud of anger and depression to take hold. Both were possible outcomes, but I have been taught that the only way to avoid self-pity induced morbidity was get into action.
With the setting of the sun, the rain began again. These were not heavy bands, but enough to make you hold you breath. The tornado warnings were less consistent on Sunday night. The thunder was quiet and the lightning did not illuminate the room. The sheer exhaustion of the last 24 hours was so overwhelming that when I finally stopped, I slept. And then I felt guilty for sleeping.
And there was evening and there was morning – the second day.