|Houston, from KHOU's website|
I know the weather is probably lovely wherever you are. Here in Texas, we're getting devastated by Hurricane Harvey.
I've lived in Texas most of my life, and Austin for most of that. Every time a hurricane has made its way toward the coast, I genuinely worry for our coastal cities but roll my eyes at the dire warnings for Austin. We're a good 3.5 - 4 hours to Galveston Island or Corpus Christi, driving wise. A Straight line to the coast is still something like 150 miles away as the crow flies.
As news channels tried to get the story localized, I've filled bathtubs and whatnot in the past, and - of course - nothing happened. So I wasn't expecting much out of Harvey.
But, look... that is not what happened. Hurricane Harvey is set to drop record levels of water and do record levels of damage to the Texas Coast and Houston.
For those of you from out-of-state, Houston is built in a mix of forested swamp land and marsh/ bayous on the very flat Texas coastal plain. Arguably, it's not the best place for human habitation, but there's some history there for why the city exists, and a lot of it has to do with the utter destruction of Galveston, a prime shipping port in the 19th Century, and Houston picking up the baton in the 20th Century. Galveston was leveled by, you guessed it, a nightmarish hurricane (the death toll was over 6000), and never recovered.
The storm changed to a Category 4 Hurricane just before landfall on Friday. Since that time, the hurricane has parked itself on the coast, reducing in speed but not energy, harvesting moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and dumping it as far inland as where I live. It's been raining since right after midnight early Saturday morning. And not just a drizzle. It's been pouring.
Rockport, Texas - a coastal town where a lot of Texans take their holiday - has been ravaged, Corpus has been heavily hit, and Houston is dealing with wind, rain and now massive flooding.
Between graduating from high school north of Houston (Go, Klein Oak HS Panthers!), a career that involved me with universities across Texas and general intra-state migration, I've got pals scattered across this state, and a good number of people in Houston and in outlying areas. And friends' parents. Heck, our own RHPT has a lot of people in Houston.
This is a full blown natural disaster, and if I am cheered, it's that - so far - the death count is very low. If I am concerned, it's that so many cities, towns and suburbs are being damaged and destroyed, and right now those people I care about are huddled and riding this thing out. You can read up on what's happening all over the web, but this will all get worse before it gets better, and could go through Thursday.
Here in Austin, I'm hiding out on my sofa, watching The Weather Channel and listening to the rain and wind bang around outside my own house. I keep checking the ceilings to see if we've got any leaks. So far, so good. The dogs are bored and ready to get outside (that isn't happening). I'm beginning to anticipate we won't have work tomorrow as UT tries not to bring anyone in during inclement weather events as they employ thousands and have 50,000 students who would descend upon the city. So, we'll see.
So far, we've had several between 7.5 and 8.25 inches of rain in 36 hours or so. Austin is technically kind of desert-y, so, that's a lot. Our creeks will begin flooding here shortly, but it's not like it can be when we see flash flooding during spring downpours that can't be absorbed by the ground and cause a tremendous amount of damage (that's usually just a few inches, but in, like, an hour).
Anyway, keep the Texas Coast in your thoughts. Give to Red Cross. Don't spend time thinking about how Houston somehow brought this on themselves. A lot of people are going to need a lot of help once the clouds break.