21 days ago Hurricane Harvey roared into Texas and made an almost direct hit on our home. I’ve lived in Corpus Christi since 2006 and this was my very first hurricane. Heck, we haven’t even had a really good tropical storm since I’ve lived here. Let’s just say it was a very educational experience.
As late as the Wednesday before the storm, when it was supposed to be only a strong tropical storm or a category 1 hurricane, we had given exactly zero thought to evacuating. There were several phone calls that evening from other family members discussing if they should board up and the decision was made that on Thursday we would know what needed to be done. We were scheduled to leave for vacation on Sunday so that evening I packed all of the groceries in our travel trailer and made sure our clothes were packed since it would certainly be rainy for a few days.
Thursday morning I put steaks in a marinade to cook for dinner and went to work. From there on it started to go downhill. At 10:15 Edward sent me an email at work that said: Category 3. I’m going home to move the trailer into the street and board up the windows. We are leaving tonight for Utopia.
Wait…..what? Thursday was a blur of activity. My office closed at 4 and I raced home to help get everything done. Thankfully we had plywood in our garage from Hurricane Ike 9 years earlier but it was a chore to get it pulled out from the remote corner behind everything. Boarding up (especially when the boards haven’t been cut to fit the windows) is a HOT, Sweaty and awkward mess. Did I mention HOT????? Thankfully Edward was sooooo patient with me and we did manage to get everything done. We had our dear neighbors Phil and Ginger who chose to stay through the storm and they were keeping an eye on the house and keeping Rascal with them for the duration. We wisely left them with a key to our house.
Then all that was left was to shower and load three cats and a kitten into carrier and into the truck and head out. First, by some miracle we had enough carriers for everyone and since we were going on vacation I had purchased enough cat food and kitty litter to last for a couple of weeks. So we strapped everyone in, said farewell to our house and started our trip west.
I swear the cats had a contest for most of the trip on who could make the most annoying noises non stop for the ENTIRE trip. After a while it became almost funny. But since I had managed to not eat anything for the entire day by the time we hit Hondo I was starving and quite frankly desperate for food. Thankfully we found a Whataburger that was still open and packed with people. The person who checked us our said that it had been like that all day and I’m sure that it was. I got food and we headed for our final destination….Garner State Park where we had reservations starting on Sunday.
We were exhausted when we collapsed into the trailer and bed about 1:30. However, it was not a restful night….the cats were all upset and in a tizzy most of the night. Plus we didn’t have any electricity so it was warmer than we would have liked and we quickly learned that a queen bed was not large enough for us and four cats.
Edward was up by 7 am to get on the list for a camping spot but he came by to the trailer by 9 and said there were so many people ahead of us he wasn’t sure we would get a spot and certainly we wouldn’t get the spots we wanted. He suggested that the cabin in Utopia would be a good choice for a couple of days and I gave an enthusiastic YES. We headed to Utopia, got the cats settled in the bunk room and went to Lost Maples Cafe for breakfast.
While we were there we got a couple of phone calls….one from Rosie asking is we were at the cabin and if she and the kids could join us and another from Edward saying that he had heard from Vanessa and she hadn’t left Corpus yet. That was frustrating since she was supposed to leave with us. But we finished breakfast and went back to the cabin for some much needed sleep.
About 4 pm Rosie arrived and Vanessa was (thankfully) with her. We moved the cats to the trailer, settled everyone in and started watching the Weather Channel. I wish there was a way to explain what the next 18 hours were like. It was blur of children, the weather channel, checking Facebook and hoping for the best.
Thankfully we got news early on Saturday from our neighbors that our house was fine except for losing a satellite dish and some sections of fence. That was a relief. Finally everyone could start to breath. I made everyone pancakes for breakfast and we got the day started. Saturday night we lit the fire pit and cracked open a box of wine and everyone finally started to relax.
By Sunday Rosie and Vanessa both had power at home. (We didn’t get power back until Tuesday) We loaded up to head to Garner to get our vacation started with our menagerie in tow. We got our favorite spot with our favorite neighbors and tried to get into the swing of vacation.
So there you go….our Hurricane Harvey Story. What did I learn?
- If you live in an area at risk for hurricanes you must plan ahead. Have the things you need at home to board up your home, tarps and any other items you will want when a storm is coming. When crunch time happens you do not want to be scrambling and it is your responsibility to take care of yourself.
- Make lists now of things that will need to be done in the event of a storm. Make lists of items to take with you and items to store away.
- Have plans in place for your pets. Do not leave them. Have enough carriers, collars and leashes on hand to safely transport them.
- Have a plan for where you will go including back up locations. If the storm changes directions you might need another place to go.
- If possible leave a key to your home with a trusted neighbor who is staying. That way they can check on your home and if they need something inside of it they can get it. Our neighbor ran short on dry cat food and we could tell her where our emergency stash was. Ed’s son wanted to borrow our generator after the storm and he could get in to get it.
So there you go….our hurricane story. I hope we never get to have another one but for us we are safe and sound.