That is the only word that keeps coming to my mind as I try to understand what is still unfolding in the Houston area. I have lived here since 1983 and seen hurricanes like Alicia and Ike, and tropical storms like Allison, but the speed at which this storm developed, and its scope, was beyond what anyone could imagine, let alone what we had seen before. Even as the storm strengthened throughout last Friday, and we received reports of the potential rainfall amounts, such reports seemed ridiculously beyond comprehension. Well, we are now surrounded by it and it is still difficult to comprehend.
For those who are criticizing the decision of local leaders not to order a mandatory evacuation, I know emotions are running high, but please get a grip and stop. Anyone who has lived here long enough to have lived through these storms, including Rita, know that this storm occurred too quickly to allow for a large scale evacuation. Most of our freeways are designed to flood during large-scale storms in order to augment the watershed runoff. I cannot even imagine the loss of life that could have occurred had our neighbors been stranded in traffic jams, like they were during the Rita evacuation, when the roads began to flood. There simply was not enough time to organize and administer a phased evacuation as happened in the lead-up to Ike.
Instead of criticizing local leaders, I want to praise all of the public officials, first responders and neighbors throughout this entire region, who are helping to rescue and shelter our neighbors in need. For those of you who may read this who do not reside in this area, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers during the days, weeks, months and years ahead. It will take a long time to get back on our feet and we will need all the help we can get—from each other and from others.
As for my family, we are spread-out over the entire area, but everyone so far is safe. My wife and I are still safe and dry, because our house sits on one of the highest elevations in our village—but there is flooding all around our village, so it will be days before we can probably drive out of our community. We are the lucky ones, who for some reason have so far been blessed. Again, please keep our neighbors in your thoughts and prayers.