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Back to School with Hurricane Harvey

Coming back to school this year was as normal as any other year could be. I had my room decorated and ready to go with all my students’ names on their desks. I had the first day packets hot off the copier. My Texan’s classroom was ready to go!

We started on Monday, August 21st. Of course we didn’t get much done the first day because of the solar eclipse. Who’s idea was it to start the first day of school the day of a solar eclipse? The kid’s were super excited and we watched it on the NASA website half of the day.

Day 2-4 were a little more normal for the first week of school. My students were learning my expectations and I was learning their names. I started getting their reading levels and learning more about their lives. I really started loving my kids.

Then day 5….

I’m still waiting for day 5. Day 5 was supposed to be on August 25th. We still haven’t had day 5 of school and won’t for a while. You see Hurricane Harvey decided to visit Texas on Day 5.

Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey was bad. It destroyed much of South Texas but, Harvey wasn’t finished yet. It came back as a tropical storm. You have to understand what it’s like living in Texas. We expect tropical storms. Our cities are made to take large amounts of rain. We have large bayous and rivers that can drain quickly. Yes we have certain areas that always flood but for many people we have a little flooding and when the rain stops it goes down and we move on with our lives.

The problem was the rain didn’t stop. It started raining Saturday night and it didn’t stop. Not even for an hour to let the creeks and bayous drain. It continued on through the night and the next morning. By 9:30 am my area had received 24 inches of rainfall in 12 hours. Many of the older neighborhoods couldn’t take it.

The flooding started and it didn’t stop. Creeks went over their banks and swept into people’s houses quickly. All of their furniture and personal belongings gone. Memories made just hours before were a distant memory to the devastation that was happening now. People were scurrying to salvage anything of value to put up as high as they could.

The water continued to rise. In some houses it was beginning to get waist-high. Many people went into their attics to get away from the rising waters. They began calling 911 but there was no answer. When they did get through the 911 operators told them they were on a wait list. You see it wasn’t just my area that flooded but the whole Houston area.

There are over 6 million people in the greater Houston area. Every area in Houston was getting flooded. Some areas were even getting tornadoes. There wasn’t enough help to get to everyone. People just had to sit and wait.

This is a picture of our school with the streets flooded in front of it. We were lucky that we didn’t get water in our school. Unfortunately the intermediate school directly behind us was devastated with 4 feet of water inside.

Is This Real?

I wish I could say this was all just made up. Unfortunately all of this happened and is still happening. My parents had to be rescued out of their house by my brother and walked through chest high water a block to the freeway with only a couple of trash bags with their medication and a change of clothes. My sister-in-law was stuck at a friend’s house calling 911 all night and had to get on top of the roof to wait for the coast guard. The story of the people going in the attic… that was one of my student’s and her family.

All night long people were begging for her on Facebook and calling family members. I could do nothing to help any of them because I too was stuck in my home. We did not flood but all the streets surrounding our neighborhood were flooded and I could not help my own parents.

Now What?

So now what do we do? We rebuild. Every house has to be cleaned, carpet pulled up, and sheet rock ripped down. Wait for insurance (if you have it) or FEMA to say what they can do to help. Go live with family or find a hotel to live in. Throw all your valuables out to the pile.

This is a picture of the pile at my parent’s house. Somewhere in that pile is my wedding dress and my mom’s baby pictures.

The Devastation

You think after seeing all of this, many people would be devastated. There are many people who are devastated and don’t know what to do. But, in the midst of this tragedy there has been greatness. My words can not even adequately describe what the people of Houston have been like. Every day people have been driving through neighborhoods bringing food, water, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene products, and anything else you can think of. In one day we had at least 9 different people stop by my parent’s house offering us these items.

Schools have been making lunches and taking them to the homes of the community. So proud of my school for doing this.

This is happening everywhere across the Houston area. This is what is so amazing about Houston! During this time of turmoil in our country Houston has come together as one to lift each other up. It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor, what ethnicity, or religion you are we were all affected by Harvey. We will all forever be changed.

Day 5

So we wait and see what will happen. Our students start back to school on September 11th. We will finally have day 5. I don’t know what it will look like.

I don’t know how many of my kids will return. All of the houses around the school are flooded. Many students have left to live with family and don’t have any cars because they also flooded.

I know I will be there Monday morning with open arms to welcome them back. I will be there to love on them and help them know they are safe. Everyone will have a story to tell and I know it will be hard for all of us. We are a strong school family and we will get through this together. HOUSTON STRONG!

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