Sept. 4, 2017 at 1:28 p.m.
I don't have an exciting or sad Hurricane Harvey story to tell but I do want to write about it, so next year now I will be able to recall how fortunate we were. My wife and I are so grateful that our daughters provided us with shelter, not only for us but for our two cats.
Thursday night, I imagine we were like many other Victoria families having the discussion of should we go or should we stay. We knew Hurricane Harvey was going to hit us, unlike the many other hurricanes in the past ten years. I wasn't worried about the structures holding up to the winds, it was the flying projectiles and tornados and the unknown that worried me. We knew our cats were coming with us but perhaps we should have boarded them.
Friday morning on the eve of the storm, we were still undecided and as often is the case, I looked at my wife and we both said aloud, “let’s pack the car and head to Waco." As luck would have it, the A/C in the Prius went out the previous week, so we only had one option and that was a ten-year old Hyundai, my daughter gifted to me in January but no problem because the car had never been driven out of -town. Why Waco? I’ll never know, voices in my head, is the only satisfactory answer for now. The time of departure was 9:30 AM, anticipating long traffic lines and no rooms, since we did not have a reservation. We arrived in Waco about four hours later because the traffic was normal. We stopped at the first exit and pulled into a Super 8 but they were booked solid with evacuees. We continued the off ramp and on the second try, where we found a room at the La Quinta near Baylor University. Friday night, like many others, we were glued to the Weather Channel with a bonus of the Victoria Advocate's live feed, we felt we related to our brave fellow Victorians who decided to stay.
Saturday morning, we woke up to the news that landfall was where it was predicted to be and the footage of Rockport was devastating but Harvey was still hovering over Victoria and pouring down rain. We then went to full lobby of evacuees from Inez, Victoria and Rockport who had one eye on the Weather Channel, as they introduced themselves and then proceeded to exchange stories and new-found information. As I made myself around the lobby, I could see the familiar blue Victoria Advocate logo on the laptops and tablets around me.
The 2007 Hyundai doesn't have GPS,so thank God for the Waze app and its amazing accuracy. I am known for an awful sense of direction, so I needed GPS directions in a city I have always bypassed on our way to Dallas. I did not have the patience for scenic routes, as we looked for provisions.
Sunday night my daughters decided that they were going back to Victoria, using whatever routes that were available but we had another day reservation.
Monday morning, I decided to call the number listed in the VA for road conditions, the person told me that Hallettsville to Victoria was open. The La Quinta front desk could not have been friendlier, as they refunded our one day and deleted the sales tax as per Texas law. The trip down 77S was free and clear and we didn't the destruction Hurricane Harvey caused until we reached the Colorado River in La Grange, near the winding road. The river was fast and in the background, we could see the police blocking entrance to a road it destroyed. We gassed up in Hallettsville and didn't get into any traffic problems until we reached the Victoria Mall. I've never seen so much bumper-to-bumper traffic in our city but drivers were not driver friendly as they navigated through the downed traffic lights. We went through the oohs and the awes but we had already been told my one of our daughter's friends that our house was not damaged. As we entered the driveway, I had to see if the BBQ pit, that I had left close to the glass patio doors had done some destruction. A 130mph hurricane never budged anything and again I am amazed of all the overtime my guardian angel must of have put in to keep us safe, but that's just too much good luck to credit to coincidence.
As luck would have it, it was cool enough for us to sleep in our home but Thursday it became a scorcher so we decided to board our two cats at Crossroads Veterinary.
Friday, I tipped my Astro cap to the AEP linemen who restored our power but I admit, I was not a happy camper when it went down six hours later. That night we spent the night at our daughters and they graciously allowed our cats to do the same.
Saturday, I received a few calls from people asking for their IRS info to complete their FEMA application but I had to tell them that my power was down but I could email them anything just as soon as my power was restored. Sure, I had paper files but my schedule would have been hectic trying to coordinate our schedules but another miracle happened; they had already found their tax returns, when I called them this morning.
I dismissed and avoided the usual political pettiness because people are hurting from Beaumont, Port Arthur, Rockport, Port Lavaca, Victoria, Bloomington to countless of towns in- between. My heart ached, as I saw my niece walking out her flooded home in Dickerson. She lost everything, so the discomforts we went through, pale next to hers.
My faith in humanity was restored, as I saw all the volunteerism, the free water, ice, food, shelter and news updates that was provided in the Crossroads. Sure, I expected that but it's still great to see. My wife said Burger Nation would now be our first choice for a burger because a delicious $6 burger during our power outage will not be forgotten. We were amazed that after a category 4 hurricane, DirectTV and Suddenlink WIFI, came back without a flaw, when our power was restored. We will never forget the 5-minute detour to Colligan’s as the nice people loaded our truck with two cases of free water and I bet people will not forget the friendliness and generosity of all our businesses.
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