Today’s post is a little different. I’m not talking about food and I don’t have a recipe for you all. (Stay tuned for next week though, we will resume as usual)
Instead, I wanted to take a moment to talk about something weighing on my heart. As most of you probably know, Category 4 hurricane Harvey hit the Texas gulf coast on Saturday before getting downgraded to a tropical storm and blowing through Houston, TX.
For anyone worried about me personally, please know that I’m doing just fine, but I’m one of the few. I’ve gone back and forth on the decision to write this so many times now. Do I even have the right? I have my home, my life, my family. I even have my power. I witnessed the devastation, but I’m still here typing this out on my completely dry and intact computer. But I want to do something for my city, and if I can shed some light on what many in Houston are feeling right now I am more than happy to take you away from your regular broadcasting…
5 Things You Don’t Expect in a Hurricane + How You Can Help
1. The Guilt.. and the Inability to Help
I in no way caused this hurricane. I didn’t even exacerbate it. So why do I feel so guilty? Many of my friends and the people in my city lost something – a house, a car, power, water, a job. I lost nothing. Despite a few flickers of power here & there and the flooding in my street, it was almost another weekend for us. To see my friends and my city go through so much devastation is heartbreaking. And because I was trapped in my neighborhood there was nothing I could do about it.
2. The idea that your life can be turned upside down in less than a minute
Call it morbid, but occasionally I think about what I would do if I lost everything. What if a tornado rips my home from the ground and throws it 500 yards? What if a hurricane pulls my house apart piece by piece? What if I suddenly have 10 feet of water in my house? Could I swim out? Would the current take me? What if we get trapped in a car? For most of us, it is unfathomable, but for many residents of Houston, Corpus Christi, Rockport and surrounding areas, those are questions they had to answer this week.
3. The unpredictability; the sleepless nights
I’m a worrier. I always have been. Hurricanes themselves are unpredictable, so when you have meteorologists changing their forecast seemingly every few hours it feeds into many of our fears of the unknown. It’s something Houston goes through with every potential threat. Some have played out and some haven’t; but from the moment a hurricane is announced to the moment it is over, you live your life at the mercy of this storm. Many of us didn’t sleep at all through the storm, whether it was because our phones went off every few minutes with a new warning, because we had the news on 24/7 to hear updates and potential evacuations, or simply checking in with all of our friends and family – “How are you doing?” “Has the water risen?” “Do you need help?”
And, the worst reason of all, some 200,000+ people lost sleep because they were trying to climb on their roof, frantically calling for help on social media or on hold for 911, or were in a temporary shelter with no food, no water, no bed, and wet clothes.
4. The ordinary heroes
If there’s any good to come of this experience, it’s that it has brought out the best in man. In a state that is so widely portrayed as hateful (some have gone so far as to say Texas deserved Harvey), it’s amazing to see the proof that man will always help man. Yes, FEMA, the Coast Guard, the Cajun Navy and other organizations came to our aid (for which we are so grateful), but a big percentage of water rescues were done by civilians – people just like you and me. For a few days, we are just neighbors helping neighbors regardless of race, sex, religion or creed. Rescuers don’t ask what you believe in, who you voted for, or how you identify while they carry you. We are all brothers and sisters in the same fight and it is an incredible sight to see.
5. The Hurricane may be over, but the problems have just begun
The difference between watching disasters on tv and living through them is perhaps the most heartbreaking of them all. The people you see on the news, the ones whose homes were flattened or had friends, family, belongings washed away… They’re all just regular people. And Harvey isn’t the only thing to devastate them this month. Cancer patients are dealing with cancer and Harvey. People with depression now have another thing to bring them down. Alcoholics now have one more reason to drink. Someone going through a custody battle no longer has a home to care for their kids. People with hardships before are now dealing with those and the loss felt in Harvey’s wake.
And I think that’s where we come in. Everyone, whether you live in Texas, in the United States or across the world, can help improve someone’s life.
It’s estimated that there is $108 billion in damages from Harvey.
To put it in perspective, as Lisa from Blog Elevated said:
Imagine if the entire state of Delaware, with twice the population of Manhattan, was under water. That’s Houston.
And over 9 TRILLION gallons of rain fell on the city and surrounding area.
How much is 9 Trillion gallons?
- It would fill the Great Salt Lake twice.
- It would fill the Empire State Building 33,906 times.
- It would cover New Orleans in 128′ of water.
- It equals 9 days of Mississippi River flow.
- It would cover the Lower 48 States with .17″ of water.
The Washington Post put together an interactive map to see what this would look like in your area.
So what can we do to help?
There are several ways to do this, and you don’t necessarily have to be local.
A Houston favorite, JJ Watt of the Houston Texans has a You Caring page (Drake and Ellen DeGeneres have already donated here). As of this writing, donations have exceeded $13 MILLION! Help it get to $15 million here.
Have extra space? List part of your home for refugees on Airbnb.
Donate blood! This might be among the highest immediate needs. South Texas hospitals are dangerously low on donations.
Donate to the Houston Food Bank. They are accepting monetary donations from outside Texas.
Help our furry friends by donating to the Houston SPCA or Miranda Lambert’s pet foundation Mutt Nation, which is currently helping Houston area dogs relocate to no-kill shelters until their owners can be found.
Support “Mattress Mack.” You may have seen him on the news – he is a beloved Houston icon of the past 30 years that has opened the doors of his furniture stores to serve as shelters.
Are you a nurse? TNAA needs NICU RNs for Harvey Relief.
Or you can help the Helpers of Houston, organised by Houston Bloggers looking to connect volunteers with those needing cleanup work.
If you’re in Southeast Texas, visit and support local small businesses that have been impacted by storms.
And one thing that doesn’t cost you a cent… Visit your favorite sites run by bloggers from Houston, Corpus Christi, Rockport and other affected areas of Southeast Texas. You don’t even need to click on any ads. All of our blood, sweat, tears and personal money goes towards these sites and your patronage can really help those of us that now have to deal with medical costs and home repairs.
Some Houston bloggers of note:
And I just want to thank you all for your continued support. Your coming here to my blog, making my recipes, sharing your stories.. They literally keep me going. So thank you.