Washington Post: “Texans’ do-it-ourselves rescue effort defines Hurricane Harvey”

People from the Lone Star State have an almost genetic disinclination to rely on the government for anything. So during Hurricane Harvey, the people saved each other.

Source: Texans’ do-it-ourselves rescue effort defines Hurricane Harvey – The Washington Post

Cooking Up a Storm After Harvey

People are rescued from flood waters from Hurricane Harvey on an air boat in Dickinson
AOL image of Cajun Navy volunteers rescuing people and pets in Dickinson

There have been lots of news stories about people pitching in and pulling together to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. One of my colleagues with a flat-bottomed boat rescued more than 50 people and 13 dogs in Northwest Houston. Volunteers have poured into Southeast Texas from all around to help with the rescues and begin the cleanup. Folks who were unaffected are helping out those who were in any way they can – with donations, with muscle, with prayers and moral support, with organizational skills to help run shelters or aid distribution centers, with spare bedrooms for the displaced.

At Glover Gardens, we’re firing up the kitchen to cook and freeze meals for a couple of families who are too busy to cook while they’ve begun the demolition and cleanup phase. They’ll be doubling up in one unaffected house while working together on the flooded one. Our contribution is tiny compared to the heroism so many have shown, but it feels good to help. Deal with a storm by cooking up a storm.

There’s a strong emotional pull to make comfort food, so today’s goal is to make these dishes from the Glover Gardens Cookbook:

And if there’s time, perhaps even “Mema Rolls,” the best yeast rolls ever, a tried and true recipe from my paternal grandmother (you’ll learn a little bit about her if you check out the Sweet Potato Biscuits story and recipe). There are already two frozen main courses, my No Name Soup (AKA “everything but the kitchen sink and I never make it the same way twice”) and Chicken and Sausage Gumbo (haven’t documented this family favorite yet).

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The sweet potatoes have been baked and are ready to peel for the biscuits, and the poblanos have been roasted for the chili and the corn pudding

Gotta go – cooking up a storm today!

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Coldplay: “Houston, you got to keep on keepin’ on”

Awesome, Coldplay. Just awesome.

In yesterdays post, How You Can Help Texas Right Now, I said:

Sometimes even the simplest expression of encouragement resonates and becomes a rallying cry.

Coldplay gave us a rallying cry, indeed! The band had to postpone last Friday night’s concert here in Houston because of Hurricane Harvey, and used their spare time to write a song for us, playing it last night in Miami.  The refrain ends with:

Houston, you got to keep on keeping’ on.

Watch it here:

The Lyrics

I’m dreamin’ of when I get back to Houston
I’m dreamin’ of that very special place.
I’m dreamin’ of when Houston has no problems
In that city where they send you into space.
I’m dreamin’ of when I get back to Texas
Corpus Christi, Harris County, Galveston.
There’s a harmony that bonds down there in Houston
Oh, Houston, you got to keep on keepin’ on.
From Miami, we are sending love to Houston
We’re praying that you make it through the rain.
I know nothing’s gonna break the will of Houston
Oh, how we can’t wait to go down there again.
I am dreamin’ of when I get back to Texas
Corpus Christi, Harris County, Galveston.
There’s a harmony that bonds down there in Houston
Oh, Houston you got to keep on keepin’ on.
Oh, Houston you got to keep on keepin’ on.
Yea, Houston got to keep on keepin’ on.

 

Awesome, just awesome.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

 ~ except for the Coldplay stuff and cover photo by Brent N. Clarke, Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP

How You Can Help Texas Right Now

All up and down the Texas coast, folks are dealing with the havoc of Hurricane Harvey.

Many across the world are watching this unfold, from the devastation all around where Harvey made his landfall, to the catastrophic flooding across the Houston metropolitan area where 6.6 million people live.

And still the rain comes.

So many caring and concerned people have asked how they can help.  Thank you ~ this means the world to us. Here’s a short list.

Pray or Send Good Juju

The power of positive thinking is indisputable. Your concern, prayers, thoughts and wishes are sustaining and reassuring.  They tell us that we are not alone, that someone is listening, that the world cares. Sometimes even the simplest expression of encouragement resonates and becomes a rallying cry.

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Come Help

If you have a high-water vehicle or a boat (and can get here safely), help is still needed.

Individuals and groups from all over the area and beyond have heeded this call, the best example being the “Cajun Navy”. Those rough and ready volunteers in this longstanding but informal group have experience with this stuff.

People are rescued from flood waters from Hurricane Harvey on an air boat in Dickinson
AOL image of Cajun Navy volunteers rescuing people and pets in Dickinson

Otherwise, Stay Away

The city is overwhelmed right now and in the near future, just trying to get everyone to a safe place. Our roads are the textbook definition of “hot mess”, although I guess in this case “wet mess” would be more appropriate.

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Donate Blood or Host a Blood Drive

Wherever you are, someone can benefit from your blood donation, and adding to the supply will help prevent any shortages. The Red Cross has all the info you need to give blood or even host a blood drive.

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Give Money – for People, for Pets, for Rebuilding

Many organizations are collecting financial donations to help make Harvey’s victims start getting back to normal.

  • The Salvation Army is sending out over 40 “mobile kitchens” to places hardest hit by Harvey, each of which can serve 1,500 meals per day; you can donate here.
  • The American Red Cross is taking donations in several ways: at www.redcross.org, 1- 800-RED CROSS or by texting the word HARVEY to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
  • HEB stores across Texas will have donation slips in the amounts of $1, $3 and $5 you can add to your grocery tab.
  • Austin Pets Alive and the SPCA of Texas are accepting donations to help them help animals displaced by Harvey.
  • Houston Texan football player JJ Watt started a Houston Flood Relief fund on YouCaring, starting with $100K of his own money.

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Know where your money is going; local news organization ABC 13 said, “The Center for International Disaster Information recommends checking with a charity monitoring organization like GiveWell, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, or the Better Business Bureau before donating.”

Donate to Food Banks

If you’re relatively local, you can donate to an area food bank – remember, some folks have lost everything.  The Houston Press published a list here.

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Support Your Town’s Shelters

Neighboring areas outside of Harvey’s path and wrath are gearing up to help; Dallas is readying a shelter with the capacity to temporarily house up to 5,000 Houston evacuees and there are already two smaller shelter open there. San Antonio i sIf your town is close enough to be viable and far enough to be safe and dry, let your officials know that you are on board with this deployment of the Golden Rule.

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Cots from the American Red Cross in the Dallas convention center; the “mega shelter” for thousands of South Texas evacuees opens Tuesday. Photo by STELLA M. CHAVEZ / KERA NEWS

Get the Spare Bedroom Ready

In addition to those displaced from Harvey’s landfall in South Texas, many families are still being rescued in the Houston area and others are facing mandatory evacuations as creeks and rivers crest and water releases from the reservoirs begin. All of these victims of the storm will need somewhere to go. Shelters will suffice for a day or two, but homes and neighborhoods may be uninhabitable for weeks or more. Some folks have money for hotels, but others don’t. You may know someone ~ or someone who knows someone ~ who needs a bed for a while.

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Pinterest photo via @prettypeachtree on Instagram

Reject the Speculation about How We Should Have Evacuated

Big media outlets are asking questions about why Houston didn’t evacuate in advance of the catastrophic floods we’re experiencing right now, with inflammatory headlines like Houston knew it was at risk of flooding, so why didn’t the city evacuate? and  As Harvey submerges Houston, local officials defend their calls not to evacuate.

I’ll tell you, dear readers, that this really annoys us.  It’s just dumb. And we don’t like it. Social media here is blowing up with righteous indignation about these attacks on the wisdom of our decision.

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Why wasn’t an evacuation called for?

  1. It’s true that rain and flooding predictions were made for Houston, but it’s only now that we’re hearing terms like “800-year flood event”. Areas of the Houston metropolitan area that have NEVER flooded are under water right now.  It would have been impossible to know which parts of town would flood or the magnitude of the impact.
  2. There are over 6,000,000 people in the Greater Houston area. That’s a lot. No one can point to an evacuation of that scale has ever even been attempted, much less accomplished.
  3. Harvey only became a hurricane on Thursday of last week – and the flooding began soon afterward on Saturday night.  The hurricane was predicted to make landfall on Friday night, and no one should be driving during the event.  Roadways are not safe places during storms, and encouragement to evacuate would have filled up our already very crowded roads, with disastrous results (see #4).
  4. We have long memories, and the name Rita will always fill us with dread. People died while evacuating from Hurricane Rita.  They died from the evacuation, not the hurricane. With ~3 million people on the road, a 3-hour trip took more than 20. It was a terrible experience, a complete debacle, and is part of our collective memory. We know it just doesn’t work to evacuate that large of a population.
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Just one of thousands of images like this about the failed Rita evacuation; yours truly was one of the folks on the road that day in 2005. Photo: Ron Heflin, Houston Chronicle

Hindsight by proxy without the benefit of experience just isn’t good manners; it’s hubris.  It’s armchair-quarterbacking by misinformed people (said someone on Facebook). And we don’t like it.  Don’t mess with Texas!

Update: this blog post from The Badger’s Sett, People Need to Stop Yelling at Houston, provides a more in-depth analysis and a great rebuttal of the ill-founded criticism.

Honor Our Experience by Getting Prepared

Everyone, everywhere needs a disaster plan and survival kit. Harvey is just the latest natural disaster; there will be more to come and it is important to be prepared. At Glover Gardens, we were the most prepared we’ve ever been for an event like this, and it has had a calming effect.

Generator tested and gassed up?  Check.

Sufficient battery supply?  Check.

Extra water and ice? Check.

Ample pet food and non-perishable people food? Check.

All devices charged? Check.

Medications on hand? Check.

You get the drill.  Here’s a recent article in the NY Times, How to Pack an Emergency Kit for Any Disaster, that provides great information, advice and links to lists.

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Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Look to the East

Our close friends and neighbors to the east, the great state of Louisiana, are in line for Harvey’s drenching mayhem, and they really, really don’t need that right now. Or ever again. They’ve had enough, and their water and sewer systems are taxed beyond effectiveness.  Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.

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Come Back and See Us When This is All Over

Houston and the surrounding communities are rich with restaurants, museums, parks, attractions and unique experiences. It is a wonderful place.  Check this out: 150 Fun Things to Do in Houston. And this: 365 Things to Do in Houston.

My son, the millennial, said, “Despite the infrastructural and geographical setbacks that allowed for this flood, Houston is a gargantuan, strange, dynamic, and beautiful town, and it will overcome this tragedy we call Harvey in due time.”

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Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

 

Houston is Paralyzed by Flooding

It’s not my first Big Bad Storm Rodeo.  I’ve lived in Southeast Texas almost all of my life, and have seen my share of dark and stormy nights, hurricanes, floods and disasters. But I’ve never seen anything like what’s going on in the Greater Houston area right now.

I grew up on the Bolivar Peninsula along the Texas Gulf Coast, about 200 yards from the shore. Here’s the view from our deck in Gilchrist, Texas. As you can imagine, evacuation was a pretty common process for us.

Harvell House - View

We left our little tropical paradise to flee oncoming hurricanes and tropical storms many times while I was growing up. Back then, it was a world without today’s ubiquitous connectedness through internet and cable TV, and we were forced to wait until we returned to find out about the condition of our home and community.  There was always damage, sometimes fairly minimal, like items in our garage being washed away by storm surge, and sometimes serious and structural, like the whole roof over the deck being blown off and crashing onto the neighbor’s deck, taking out their stairs.

As an adult living in the Houston area, I watched TV all night as Tropical Storm Allison hovered over us for hours and hours in June of 2001, fascinated and afraid as more than 39 inches of rain ravaged downtown Houston and beyond and ended 23 lives.

Marrying the Grill-Meister in 2008, I moved into his home (which we promptly renamed Glover Gardens) in the Northwest Houston area, just in time for Hurricane Ike. At 70 miles inland, we felt very safe and were happy to be the evacuation destination for my Dad and Aunt-Mom. We were wrong to feel safe. Ike’s winds felled several huge pine trees which came crashing into the house during an absolutely terrifying night, and the storm’s aftermath brought tornadoes and torrential rains and took away the electricity for ten days. It took us several months and many interactions with our insurance company to get back to normal. Our damage was minimal compared to many others in the area, and in fact, my home town of Gilchrist down on the coast was completely obliterated by Ike.

Two “100-Year Floods” in the past two years have brought down more Glover Gardens pine trees, caused more damage and long-term power outages, and made us truly appreciate the generator we invested in after Ike and our excellent relationship with our insurance company.

So – as I said earlier – it’s not my first rodeo in the Big Bad Storm Department. But I have never, ever seen anything like what’s happening right now in the Houston area.  We are a community under water, and the rain is still coming.

Flooding is everywhere to some extent, not just in low-lying areas; the whole metropolitan area is experiencing this catastrophic flooding.

Freeways look like rivers, with flowing water, currents and even rapids.

Our cell phones are blaring emergency alert sounds for flash flood and tornado warnings almost every hour; almost as soon as one expires, another is announced.

Drivers are stranded in cars everywhere; abandoned cars dot the waterscape all across the area.

People are walking on freeways to get where they’re going.

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AP Photo/David J. Phillip

The water is so deep in places that rescue boats are easily passing over the tops of stranded cars.

Stranded and submerged vehicles include a Houston Metro bus.

People are driving the wrong way on streets that aren’t flooded, causing accidents, as the Texas Dept of Transportation is urging citizens to stay off the roads.

People are trapped in their attics after moving upward as the water rose in their houses, and others wait on rooftops.

The 911 system is overloaded and callers can’t get through; the Coast Guard tweeted their emergency numbers.

Emergency response teams are so overtaxed with rescues that the city and the county have asked for the public to help with high-water vehicles and boats.

The governor has activated 3,000 Texas Army National Guard troops to help with the rescues.

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Photo by Zachary West, 100th MPAD

Whole neighborhoods are completely and eerily deserted.

Social media is being used extensively to request rescues and the requests are heartbreaking: “S.O.S. mentally disabled senior and wife are stuck inside the second floor of a home.”

Ben Taub hospital is being evacuated; it is one of the city’s only two trauma centers.

Nursing home residents were sitting waist-deep in water before being rescued; this photo went viral and was responsible for the rescue.

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Photo from Twitter

News reports show folks using all kinds of flotation devices to get out of flooded homes, including a toddler being pushed along in a big plastic storage tub and a cat in a pet carrier atop a pool float.

One of our major news stations, KHOU, flooded this morning and is off the air. UPDATE: KHOU is back on the air, and check out this comment from Ray Laskowitz of New Orleans and the Storyteller blog on my previous post about it, which tells a wonderful story:

“The ABC affiliate in Dallas continued to carry them via CBS Online. That was very cool considering that on a normal day they are competitors.”

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KHOU photo

Both airports are closed (runways are flooded and unusable at Hobby) and there are reports that hundreds of travelers and workers are stranded.

Shelters are popping up all over the place, both official and unofficial.

Many schools have been closed through September 2 or later; some are closed “until further notice”.

Image after image shows folks fleeing floodwaters with pets.

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Photo by Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP

The neighboring City of Pasadena has implemented a curfew with a $500 fine for  violations.

Thousands of residents are without power.

Local and national news media are showing heartbreaking images of the elderly and infirm being rescued.

Good Samaritans are coming in from surrounding areas like Louisiana and Oklahoma with their boats and rescue-worthy vehicles to help (AKA the #Cajun Navy), even while neighbors act as first-responders everywhere.

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Photo of Cajun Navy coming in from Gonzales, LA, courtesy of the Facebook page: Hurricane Harvey 2017 / Together We Can Make It

Rumors are rampant and reassurances are being issued: “Drinking water is still safe.”

Sadly, looting has begun.

There are lines for gas, lines for water, lines for food.

Metro buses were stored on a freeway last night in case their bus barns flooded.

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Photo by Mark Mulligan / AP

Areas to our Southwest along the Brazos River are beginning to issue mandatory evacuations in advance of  the river cresting.

Flood waters are causing sinkholes and other damage to roads and bridges.

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FM 762 in Rosenberg; photo from Rosenberg Police Dept.
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The bridge over the creek in our neighborhood (out of sight of the picture) was damaged by floodwaters

The eyes of the world are upon us, and still the rain comes.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

While her TV station flooded, a reporter stayed on air — and helped deputies rescue a driver – The Washington Post

Houston is under water and the rain is still coming down. So many stories are unfolding around us here in Southeast Texas as the floods interfere with every part of every life right now. Here’s one: a major news station, KHOU, flooded earlier today and is off the air.

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Photo from the Houston Chronicle

KHOU moved operations to the second floor when the water started to rise, then had a single field reporter carry their whole broadcast when that began to flood, too. Flooded in ourselves by the creek in our neighborhood, we still have power and cable TV.  I was watching KHOU several hours ago as reporter Brandi Smith identified a truck driver who was trapped on a flooded road, summoned a sheriff with a boat, and then covered the rescue.  She and photographer Mario Sandoval did an amazing job.

And then the station went dark.  Eerie.

Read more in this story in the Washington Post:  While her TV station flooded, a reporter stayed on air — and helped deputies rescue a driver.

As water poured into KHOU offices, reporter Brandi Smith and photographer Mario Sandoval stayed in the field despite the risks.

 

Your continued thoughts and prayers for the residents of Southeast Texas are appreciated.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

“Frank-biscus” Blooms! Just in Time for Harvey

A couple of days ago, I shared a lovely hibiscus haiku written by my cousin’s wife in the wake of my Dad’s death, which accompanied a hibiscus. We named it “Frank-biscus” to honor him.

We have an abundance of hibiscus at Glover Gardens, and I used some of them in the post instead of highlighting Frank-biscus, which hadn’t yet bloomed after being re-potted.

Yesterday, as Hurricane Harvey was sending advance rainstorms to herald his impending arrival, Frank-biscus opened up a beautiful, bright pink blossom!

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To me, this was a reminder from God – during all of the fearsome ravaging brought by the hurricane – that nature is also beauty.

Here’s the haiku again, now properly paired with Frank-biscus.

your much-beloved dad
like this hibiscus flower
blossomed love and life

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook