Watching Home, From Afar

August 27th, 2017

On Thursday after class, I decided to evacuate north to Dallas. It wasn’t a well thought-out decision, and I didn’t pack nearly enough, but the specter of Harvey compelled me to get out of town in advance of the rain. I wasn’t alone. One of my former students is staying at my hotel, and many of the other guests here are from Houston or San Antonio. I am grateful I had the means and opportunity to escape, but many in Houston did not.

Now, all I can do is watch. And this process is surreal. I’ve seen awful flooding in the past on TV, but it was always in places that I did not know. Now, the videos of the flooding are in my community, places I visit, and affecting people I care deeply about. Even worse, close friends are sharing videos by text and social media of the devastation near their homes–places where I have spent treasured time.

The first floor of my building has flooded. My apartment is on the second floor. I’ve asked the real estate manager to give a copy of my keys to anyone in the community who needs a dry place to stay. Yet, the feeling of helplessness is consuming.

Checks will no doubt flood in, as Americans open their hearts for Houston, but the toll on my adopted hometown is impossible to quantify. Indeed, one of the TV networks I often provide commentary for asked me to appear to talk about the situation in Houston. I declined, not because I was unwilling, but because I am unable. Putting these horrors into words escapes me.

I will try to continue providing updates, as I can. In the meantime, please pray for Houston, and for Texas.