August 28, 2017: As many of you know, we have been spending some time in Blessing, Texas. Today, we are in Houston, in the Heights neighborhood, which is thankfully living up to its name. Last night we were standing on our friends’ porch watching the rain fall. It looked like we were on the back side of a waterfall. The ditches filled with water and edges of the street went under, but there it stopped. Just like the night before.
We have been in Houston, approximately 90 miles northeast of Blessing, since Friday, having decided that the city, despite the inevitability of flooding, would be a better place to ride out the storm than Blessing, 9 miles inland, and much closer to Harvey’s expected landfall. Matagorda County, where Blessing is located, has been under a mandatory evacuation order since Friday morning. We have been in contact with friends who chose to stay in Blessing, and the town seems to be OK, despite Hurricane Harvey making landfall 60 miles to the southwest. Some people are without power, but not everyone, and cell phone service is still working. We are told the wind got a little intense and scary, but there isn’t too much damage.
Outside of the landfall area, flooding is the major problem with tropical storms in this area. Currently, large areas of Houston are flooded.
And the flooding isn’t confined to Houston, of course. Bay City, Texas, about 17 miles east of Blessing, with just under 18,000 people, is expected to flood. Completely. Every building, every business, every house, is expected to take on water as the Colorado River rises in this flat, coastal plain. Flood levels of 10′ are predicted for Bay City’s downtown. It’s hard to imagine. [It didn’t happen. Not even close. Just a wildly inaccurate prediction prompting a lot of unnecessary panic, in retrospect.] And there are many neighborhoods in Houston with the population of Bay City that have already gone under water.
We’ve heard parts of Houston have received 40 inches (100 cm) of rain. Unfortunately, this storm is far from over. Normally hurricanes make landfall and diminish as they move inland, robbed of the warm water that feeds them. The center of this storm has barely moved since coming ashore Friday night, and although it has diminished from a Category 4 Hurricane to a tropical storm, the counter-clockwise rotation of the storm continues to draw water from the warm Gulf and dump it to the east. It now looks like it will head back out into the Gulf a bit before passing over land again, and heading northeast toward Houston. But very slowly. It might be a few days more before the center of storm passes to our east and we find ourselves on the dryer west side. Predictions are for Houston to get up to 25 more inches (64 cm) of rain. Most of the area waterways are already at new record levels.
The storm is also already dumping large amounts of rain on southern Louisiana, and as the storm moves east, it seems quite likely that New Orleans will get very heavy rain.
We are high and dry. A little cabin fever, perhaps, stuck inside here for a 4th day. We have food and water and power and phones and internet, and hopefully most or all of those resources will be maintained until the storm is over. We also have very gracious friends who are sharing their home with us. We are very lucky.