Category Archives: Brazos River

How Harvey Looked From Here

Hurricane on the horizon

Soon gasoline started running out

We evacuated to safe ground, but floodwater turned our haven into an island

At first bigger pick-ups still could get in and out for supplies

But deeper floodwater cut us off completely (until we discovered the gate)

Meanwhile, our kayaking neighbor took photos of our house while the river rose to 54 feet…

After the river rose another few inches, it began flowing from our backyard down the driveway…

Finally, the river crested at 55 feet, 3 inches – and left our house (barely) safe and dry

But my wife’s parents house flooded with more than 4 feet of water, destroying nearly everything

Thousands of others in their town, Dickinson, also saw their houses and belongings ruined

To add insult to injury, even the Dickinson mini-storage facilities flooded

Much of our street in Richmond saw horrible flooding, too, such as this trailer park

A day later, this rainbow appearedI’m hoping it’s God renewing His old Noah’s Ark promise…

Also posted in Be Afraid, Nature

The Magic Gate

So here’s the way it went: I’d decided to handle this year’s 100-year-plus flood event the way I handled last year’s 100-year-plus flood event. My wife and kids went to stay with her sister and brother-in-law about 15 miles away in what historically has been a dry area during major floods. I would hang out in the house with the dogs while the world went all Noah’s Ark, until the deluge ended. I would use my generator to maintain power and thus the food in our freezer and fridge, and work to keep outside damage at a minimum.

Then, the National Weather Service decided the river was going to crest at 59 feet. Last year, the river crested at 54.8 feet. At 54.8 feet, the house was high and dry, and so was our carport in back. At 59 feet, pretty much all bets were off. And in case I still hadn’t made up my mind, the city ordered a mandatory evacuation.

So on Sunday, in a driving rain, my wife, son and brother-in-law helped me move valuable stuff to the second story of our house. Then we took a minimum amount of clothing, and a bunch of racks of ribs and other good things from the fridge and freezer, and two confused dogs, and took off for rural Fort Bend County.

My brother-in-law lives in a great, secluded subdivision, engineered with very wide grass ditches along all of the houses, the benefit of which was obvious after about 25 inches of rain fell and yet the yards kept draining. However, a body of water called Jones Creek soon raged up and covered a bridge and a separate roadway on one side of our subdivision, while a man-made lake at what some would call an upscale development flooded its banks and was cascading over the roadway in the opposite direction.

For the first two days, local residents with jacked-up pickup trucks could get in and out, and thus did we all build up our food and water supplies. The power went out for a few hours, but came back on, so we never needed the generator I’d brought from home.

Then the water rose. Soon, we were locked in place. My wife’s parents, who also were staying with us, were anxious to get to their property east of Houston, and my wife and I wanted to see what we could of our neighborhood, but we were trapped. It was a benign trap, all things considered, but still a trap.

Until the magic gate.

On Wednesday, my wife and I rode bicycles to the high-water points of our new world. When we stopped at the now-underwater Jones Creek bridge, we met two young couples in a four-wheeler vehicle. We talked awhile, then they said they had to get back. “Do you live around here?” I asked. They said they lived on the flooded road we were looking at, on the other side of the high water. Huh?

So how were they going to get back home? They told us about the magic gate. You drove back to the “upscale development,” see, turned in, then followed the road until you saw a drainage ditch on your right. At that point, you turned left and continued until you found a second drainage ditch on your right. And again, you turned left. Then you drove to the end of that road, into a cul-de-sac. Then you looked for a driveway that had a gate at its rear. An open gate.

My brother-in-law, son and I followed the instructions, found the house, drove up the driveway, saw the open back gate, and drove onto a county road on the other side of the high water. Free at last.

In a relative way. Now we had access to bigger county roads and highways we hadn’t been able to get to, however, we still couldn’t get to my house in Richmond, due to a web of other flooded and closed roads. But we could get to Interstate 10, which meant I could get to our farm, 100 miles to the west. Even that far away, it had been inundated by 15 to 20 inches of Hurricane Harvey rain, and the “dry” creek between my farm road and my farmhouse had for three days pretty much raged across the land.

But my farm neighbor said the coast was clear. So we went back to the subdivision and told the news of the magic gate. I took the dogs and checked out storm damage at the farm, which is where I am now. The next day, my wife, her sister and their father used the magic gate to make their way east of Houston to check on my in-laws’ house damage. Unfortunately, it is severe, as the house took on about 4 feet of water. They will have to live in an apartment until the extensive repairs are made.

In Richmond, meanwhile, the Brazos River has crested, at 55.2 inches, a few inches higher than last year. A kayak-toting neighbor sent pictures showing that our Damned Old House has survived its second hurricane and third flood without taking in any water.

But the rest of the neighborhood (and much of the rest of Southeast Texas) is going to need lots and lots of help. Some of my neighbors had just finished rebuilding after their homes took in up to 7 feet of water from the 2016 flood. Cruel fate has just forced them to start over again or leave for good. Their stories are being repeated across Houston, to Galveston and all the way down the Texas coast.

Also posted in Be Afraid, Nature, Nobody Gets It Like They Want It To Be, Uncategorized

Adam & Eve, Party Of Two – Your Table Is Ready

persimm.jpg
Unexpected consequences from the Great Flood of ‘016 include a ruined fig and pecan crop – pretty disappointing to those of us who look forward to those gastronomic treats. However, the pain has been eased by a great load of Hachiya persimmons from what looks like the Tree of Life out back, several large bunches of bananas with more ripening, and a promising crop of Satsuma oranges and Meyer lemons. You win some, you lose some.

Our house took on not a drop of water from the raging Brazos River, which crested at nearly 55 feet just four months ago. However, our five figs and all the towering native pecan trees in the neighborhood stood in three or more feet of water for several days, and apparently that was traumatic enough to ruin the crops. The usually delicious dark figs in back ripened up and looked fine, but when you bit into them, they contained almost no sugar. As for the pecans, most of our trees have almost none. Usually they have many hundreds.

bunchabana.jpg
So you eat what you have. Stop by this fall for a banana-persimmon smoothy.

Also posted in Food, Fruit, Garden, Nobody Gets It Like They Want It To Be

Anybody Home?

Wow, no one’s been here for weeks and the places is full of cobwebs and stacks of junk mail. Sorry about that. Let me move these papers out of the way, have a seat, I’ll get you something to drink.

cheers.jpg

We came through the flood merely inconvenienced – yards and a shed full of mud, the tomato garden and fig harvests pretty well ruined – but it was and remains painful to watch as neighbors up and down the street haul their damaged furniture, carpet, appliances and rotting wallboard out onto the curb. Giant garbage trucks with attached metal grabbers were on patrol for weeks, lifting the roadside refuse and hauling it out.

Our house, and those of about 12 adjoining neighbors, sit high enough on the banks that even this last historic river flood failed to seep into our homes. However, dozens of other housess and trailers suffered damage of varying severity, with some taking on as much as 7 feet of water. Whether the owners can rebuild, and how they go about doing so, is in the hands of city inspectors or, outside city limits, in the hands of Federal Emergency Management Administration officials. You do what you can to help, but recovering from a disaster like this one is beyond individual effort. Great sustained work by volunteer organizations and government agencies all have helped, but I suspect the neighborhood never will be the same.

Long before the flood, we’d scheduled a vacation in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, which provided some welcome relief and perspective. We rented a home for a week, in the mountains outside Asheville, and rested in cool breezes and the hot tub in between trips to the city’s excellent restaurants and arts community and parks and street performers.

drummerlady.jpg

Now I’m back slogging through the Texas steam-heat, rebuilding the gardens here and repairing the watering system at the farm, where parched rodents or rabbits have taken to gnawing holes in my plastic irrigation tubes in search of water.

Soon, very soon, I’ll haul out a few of the Asheville photos for a new gallery, and give the place a good dusting. Thanks for stopping by!

Also posted in Family, Travel