I remember waking up on Monday and I thought that I was dreaming. Seeing the clock and hearing the emergency response alarm, I realized that this was indeed a living nightmare. I stumbled downstairs to find Lucas at the kitchen counter planning his attack. There were things that had to secured before he left the house. The debris in the yard needed to be cleared. They needed him at work and while steady, the overnight accumulation of rain was manageable. While the streets seemed passable, the return trip home from the plant would be questionable. He packed a large bag, complete with air mattress, pillow and days of clothing.
Our tiny houseguests played with our 3 toys in the hours before sleep. Our house was not equipped for a prolonged sleepover. While Ally bathed and washed their hair, I sipped coffee waking my brain for action. After calling for reinforcements, the decision was made to move the party to a friend’s house in our neighborhood. The girls would have toys and I needed to be present with our people. At 8:55am I posted a note to my Facebook page that read:
“League City friends. We know you want to help, but how? We are opening the doors of Ecclesia – Clear Lake at 11am as a donation center. Needs include personal hygiene, blankets, pillows, underwear, socks and cleaning supplies. We will coordinate with area shelters to fill in needs that they have. Our address is 218 Clear Creek Ave. Help us spread the word!”
Our church is not equipped to house a shelter. We do not have a full kitchen. We do not have showers. We have 5 small classrooms, a worship space and a porch. After my experience the night before, I knew that we could sort stuff and as needs arose, we could help match resources with supplies. By the time our doors opened at 11, there were 4 shelters in our immediate area. I still don’t know how the word spread. But by 11:01 supplies were coming in. Not long after that, strangers that I had never met were walking in our worship space and their first question was always, “How can I help?”
The first few hours were hectic. We had no idea what we were doing. Ally slapped some signs on our chairs and we started sorting. One friend took the helm as social media director. She read the ever growing list of needs and we kept responding. AJ took over my phone and was directing the telephone traffic. By 11:29, we knew the specific supplies that the shelters needed and our first post went on our church page. Eager Texans in big trucks were appearing in our midst with the desire to brave flood waters to assist.
Within hours we realized that our hotels were acting as shelters, as many waded out of water and arrived with nothing. To further complicate the situation, roads were impassable, so re-supply trucks for food and consumables were non-existent. Our rag-tag group of volunteers became front line care givers. We could hardly hang up the phone before someone else requested water or shampoo or food. We would take what we had and go to them.
Throughout the day, the rain kept falling. Creeks were rising, streets were filling again. Around 2pm, the City of Dickinson called for a mandatory evacuation. Dickinson borders League City. This was our community. While roads were impassable and we could not see it with our own eyes, we knew this was disastrous. Things were worse than we could imagine. We worked hard for the next few hours, but we knew that forecasters were predicting another night of heavy rain, so we proceeded with caution. By 4:27pm, we posted on Facebook that our doors would close at 5. We all knew that it could be another long night and we needed to get home safely.
I remember locking the door at 218 that night and driving home. Lucas was able to make it home safely, so the four of us ate what we could find in the pantry and pretended that the sirens were just test warnings. After 48 hours of tornado alarms, you become immune. What would have had you under the stairs, now had you glad that it was 3 miles away. As I tried to prepare for the night, I sent my storm buddies this message, “I just can’t. If Harvey takes me out in my sleep, know I lived well.” The thought of another night of terror was more than my heart could take.
I watched the water rise until 12:14pm. It was then that I tapped out for the night. I closed my eyes for a few hours. At 6am Tuesday, I found both girls on my floor and Lucas preparing to wade to work. Many of the main roads were as bad as Sunday morning. We started answering calls at home, but by 10am, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I was not going to be irresponsible, but I could not watch another minute of the news. This was devastating and hopeless and the only way was through it…together.
And there was evening and there was morning – the third day.