My Hurricane Harvey story


It comes close, and often.

Six times in these past two years it’s come close, so close the water licks at my very doorstep as though waiting. Waiting for what, Harry? Don’t think about it.

And six times in these past two years I have strode out into the waters of my street, clothing rod in hand. With my clothing rod, I have poked holes through collected leaves, the odd branch, newspaper wrappers, door handle ads for Chinese restaurants, business cards, fast food straws, and other things as well, I’ve forgotten the rest, all clogging the sewer drain. Stood there, feeling like a god, as if this were the kind of thing gods do I guess, as the waters drained around my feet from front yards. From around automobile tires. From the street.

My street having been saved again and after five days confined to my depression den, a trip to the local Walgreens today appeared as an exotic thing, to me.  I found many others had had the same inclination. The food selection was unenviable.

I stood there at the back of an endless circling line of people, with my $3 wine, a single 20-ounce bottle of Cherry Coca-Cola, and a small bag of Lay’s Potato Chips. The chips were a flavor called Anchovies, Gravy, and Despair, I think. The Oxford comma seemed like overkill.

The lady before me was purchasing cosmetics and an ironing board. The man behind me, magazines about women’s health.

I am glad I went to Walgreens.

Now, one more hour having passed, I am back home, typing these words for everybody. And these as well. This place has working utilities. Internet. Cable. Lay’s Anchovies, Gravy, and Despair. All the many amenities of modern living.

Also, I am safe. My parents are safe. My brother, my sister-in-law, and my nephew are safe, too.

I do not have a Hurricane Harvey story for you and that is a wonderful, wonderful thing, really, if you think about it, because it comes close, and often. 

Comments

  1. Anchovies, Gravy, and Despair is pretty good, but the gravy doesn't really taste like gravy. I just buy it for the despair. I prefer the Onion, Orange Juice, and Shame, personally. It tastes a lot like a hangover.

    Also, I'm glad to hear you're okay. Sometimes, no news is good news.

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    1. So far, all that I've lost (as far as I know) are some things of mine like a hairbrush and a few papers that were in my secondary office beneath the law library. That puts me in much better shape than a sizable % of the Houston population right now. I might be making a FEMA claim about that hairbrush, though.

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  2. So glad to hear you, at least, are okay. I know how to swim, however, having seen the fire ants rafts, the gators I know that are out there. (Lived in south Houston as a wee lad, it was on an interchange south of the city on the highway to Galveston, I remember that. Don't know if they got flooded) I would be hesitant to venture out.

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    1. Yes, those floating balls of fire ants during a flood sound like the definition of hell. It's like being told that not only are you going to be attacked by a bear, but he's going to be carrying automatic weapons.

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  3. Glad it missed you yet again. May it miss you many many more times.

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    1. Thanks!

      We flood a lot here. We flood so often that we've started given our floods names to distingush them from one another (The Tax Day Flood, The Memorial Day Flood of 2015, etc.).

      In light of that, the only time I've even lost my power for any amount of time was back in 2008, during Hurricane Ike. That's unheard of.

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  4. It could have been worse, instead of Walgreens circumstances could have forced you to go to Walmart. That place is scary even when the weather is good. Stay safe, stay dry!

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    1. Thank you. I'm heading out on the road today to check on some people. Many parts of town are still rough, but I play it very, very safe.

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  5. I'm lucky the same way. My place is an island during the great Bangkok floods. Plus I can buy my beer with out getting my flip flops wet

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    1. Yeah, but see, we don't hear anything about floods that happen that far away from the US.

      I saw a chart once about how many people had to die in disasters in foreign countries before America ever heard about it. I'm sure that Bangkok would essentially have to sink into the sea before we'd see it on the news.

      I'm glad you've been safe when bad things have happened there. There are a lot of us who would notice quickly if you disappeared!

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  6. Well done for unblocking the sewage drain, that makes you a hero right?

    I never realised Walgreens sold food, but chips aren't really food are they? Well actually in the UK chips are, crisps aren't. Oh God, I'll shut up.

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    1. I thought about that as I was writing it. "My British visitors are going to think I was buying French fries."

      But I didn't even clarify what "The Girl with the Red Pants" for non-American friends. That name sounds way racier in the UK than it was intended to sound when I wrote it.

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  7. Glad to hear you're having an easy time with this one. I know someone from the Urbit community who lives in Houston I believe, he's been checking in with us regularly... but not yesterday. I hope he's okay.
    I recalled you living in Texas from Nasreen's blog. So that *was* the truth huh. Glad to hear you're mostly out of reach!

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    1. Yes, there has always been a lot of truth mixed into my posts, even back when I was writing as characters.

      There are parts of town here that weren't initially affected by anything other than rain, but are now affected by creeks, bayous, and levees going over. It's a aptchwork of problems all over.

      I hope the Urbit person is okay.

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  8. Good to hear all is well and safety is often taken for granted in this world that we live in. A devastating event has seen deaths and people losing homes, hopefully the country and friends around the world will rally round to help all those in need. Helping out is the way to go. Greetings.

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    1. Hi there, Blogoratti, and thanks.

      It's a real mess here, but today, the sun is out and things have a chance to start drying out.

      It's going to take some time.

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  9. I saw a video by Juan Browne, who tirelessly covers the Oroville dam situation, about the dam and levee system in Houston, so I sort of freaked the fuck out when I read that water was coming over the Addicks dam, but apparently they just meant the spillway, which is a whole different critter.
    Glad to hear you're dry and OK.
    Now if my friend Zsuzs, who is under mandatory evacuation from a forest fire, would just return my texts, I could relax for a while.

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. Yeah, that's been a confusing story. Addicks is about 20 miles west of where I live, and it sounds as though they are doing a slow controlled release that will hopefully both outpace more flooding by the reservoir into the nearby neighborhoods and not overload Buffalo Bayou when they release it.

      Your efforts at being on natural disaster watch must be exhausting this week.

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    2. Not as exhausting as for my friend Zsuzs, who got evacuated from her house along with her cat and dog when the forest fire got too close, had to unload the recycling from her truck to make room for heirlooms and tools and skedaddle to her brother's to wait for the roads to open. I'm just sitting here with my laptop.

      -Doug in Oakland

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    3. Fire would be awful. I have often considered the fact that being in an area where hurricanes are the worst weather phenomenon isn't as bad as it could be. We generally get 5 days notice for these. You don't get 5 days notice for earthquakes, fires, tornadoes, etc.

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    4. My family back in Oklahoma used to wonder how we could stand living in a place where there are earthquakes. I used to respond by pointing out that we weren't the ones with tornado bunkers in our backyards. I suppose if I ever talk to my cousins again (two of whom live in Houston) I could ask them what's up with Oklahoma having more earthquakes last year than the Bay Area, but perhaps that is part of why they moved.

      -Doug in Oakland

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    5. Those fracking quakes sound like a lot of fun, and we might find out soon down here, as there are companies proposing fracking under a couple lakes in the greater Houston area.

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  10. You escaped the flooding, but what about the disruption of goods and services? Surely no one has escaped that.

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    1. Probably not. I've only ventured out twice: Once to Walgreen's and once to check on my parents. So far as gasoline, mail, trash pickup, food, goes, I'm not sure.

      Starting tomorrow, I'm going to be at the evacuee shelters giving them legal assistance. For work. I'm sure I'll know much more about it then.

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  11. Glad you're not terribly affected. You're mixing that wine with the Cherry Coke, right? My friends live near UH and, while their house isn't flooded, a tree branch hit their roof and left a sizable hole that they have to keep up with. Also, their street floods to the point where they kayak to get beer. Though I don't live in Houston anymore, I've been keeping up. Glad to see the Montrose seems to be doing okay.

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    1. I'm getting stir crazy. But so far, the worst ways it's affected me personally are: a) I have been driven out of my underground secondary office below the county law library for the foreseeable future so the county can use the space for other things, and b) Lone Star Legal Aid at Bell and Fannin blew up and burned, leaving my org the largest legal services provider in Houston for now handling the disaster relief legal assistance stuff.

      Which isn't nearly so bad as hundreds of thousands of people here have it.

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  12. Loved ones safe..Thats all that matters..we are watching harvey's power with shock in the uk

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    1. That's true, John. It's sort of amazing that my family is scattered across different sections of town and yet we've all gotten through okay.

      I haven't had six consecutive days away from work in more than six years. Tomorrow, I get out and start trying to help put the city back together.

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  13. You can have some of my yam chips if your despair runs too low.

    I'm glad you and all yours are safe despite a stormy season. And if you can pass some rain my way, I sure could use it.

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    1. Hi, Alice. We needed the rain, too. But not our entire year's worth of it in two days.

      It's a beautiful sunny day today...

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    2. I hadn't realize you were also running dry this year. Sorry it had to come in a way that does the least good. Here it all just runs down hill, but at least the trees take a crack at it first.

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    3. It's hard to keep track of all the natural disasters going on at the moment, but I do hope you avoid all the bad fires going on in your end of the continent.

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  14. Harry, I am so happy you and your family are safe and well! I started to laugh when reading you purchased cherry coca-cola! I just tried today, for the first time in my life, cherry coca-cola liquorice! Yucky! LOL! Take care and be safe!!

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    1. Oooh... I don't think that Walgreen's had any of that licorice. Maybe they don't sell it here because if they did, I'm fairly certain it would have been among the limited items still left in the store.

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  15. Anchovies, Gravy, and Despair! Ha!! Good one! Glad to hear you are safe!

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    1. Thanks, Misty!

      There really was a Lay's flavor called Chicken and Waffles (!) and it appeared to be almost the only thing left in the store.

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  16. I'm glad you don't have a Hurricane Harvey story. I wish no one else did. But, right, I will just be happy that you and your family are hurricane story-less.

    When it happens, if it happens again, may your holy rod do the work.

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    1. It will happen again.

      Talking to the people here who were not directly affected, there almost seems to be a sense of guilt that they didn't get flooded. I feel more thankful than guilty about it, but I work for an organization that relies heavily on volunteers, so guilt works fine for us.

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  17. "...Anchovies, Gravy, and Despair..." oh those are the best!
    Good that you and your family are safe. Years from now you could add that gator you fought off with your clothing rod to your Harvey story.

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    1. I am sort of Brian Williams insofar as there are stories I've told for so long that I no longer remember whether they're true.

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  18. "Anchovies, Gravy, and Despair . . . . The Oxford comma seemed like overkill." Brilliant line!

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    1. Thank you!

      For a long time, I purposely avoided lines like that - lines that seem to want to be good - but the hell with it. Life's too short.

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