Sitting at my feet my Boston Terrier, Kelvin is licking one of the spider bites I received while in standing in the floodwater. Even if I did everything on the “hurricane preparedness checklist” I still wouldn’t have been ready for Harvey.

When my wife and I realized the incoming storm was going to be a hurricane we   started talking about a game plan. Our 3 dogs don’t travel well in the car. We had to leave for a much-needed vacation to Canada on Wednesday. “It doesn’t make sense to leave,” I said. The storms are never as bad as I think they will be.

I made fun of items on the checklist like an axe to chop your way of the roof of your home. I thought to myself, “7 days of food per person? We barely keep 2 days of food in the fridge. Buying all those non-perishables sure is a lot of carbs. And who the hell would need a signal flare in a storm?”

Harvey hit down South and out here in Katy we got smacked with his outer bands. Harvey the Hurricane started hitting us with his pimp hand, and let me tell you, he kept that shit strong.

The rain started and never stopped. A town was leveled. Harvey wasn’t done.

Weather guys were saying this would dump 30” of rain. A rumor on Facebook spread, saying we’d see 50” with 100,000 homes destroyed. I changed my Facebook timeline photo to a shot of Lt. Dan screaming at the storm that made himself and Forest Gump millionaires.

“You call this a storm?!”
Hah! Storm.

The rain started on Friday but it was business as usual. Angela and I went to the Galleria. I didn’t take Harvey seriously.

On Saturday, I couldn’t drive into Houston to second shoot a wedding because we had no power. The garage doors wouldn’t open manually, and I stayed home.

I can’t remember the exact order of what happened next. But, I do know that what happened wasn’t good.

Harvey whipped out his dick and started pissing on us. The urine collected in the streets and in people’s homes. It was too dangerous to drive anywhere. Harvey continued pissing on us for the next 20 hours.

I met my two neighbors outside and I told them I was going over to the new homes being built to steal sandbags since none of us had any. The water in the street was rising and pretty quickly too. Neighborhood parents stood outside watching their kids play in the floodwater.

I was scared.

After procuring enough sandbags for my front door and both of my neighbor’s, we hunkered down and waited out the storm. A few hours later it was nightfall and the rains continued. The water on my sidewalk was just past my knees. It was only at my ankles a few hours before.

The water on both sides of my house started to rise and eventually met one side of our home’s foundation. I thought the French drains failed but that wasn’t the case. The ditch of water behind our fence rose past it’s bank and started filling our yard with water. The rice field behind us force-fed the unfinished street a few houses down with water.

Water filled our backyards. Decisions needed to be made. Our backdoors were next. And once water reached the back door, we’d be up shit’s creek.

I moved the sandbags from our front door to our back door and took the dogs out to go potty one last time in the rain. I text my neighbors and told them what was going on with the ditch.

Daryl decided to head down the street to his buddy’s house that has a second story. He shut off his breakers, handed me a key to his house and his car and said, “Text me when we start taking on water.”

It was sobering to hear. The severity of what was happening hit me. I realized we may lose our house. That wasn’t an unreasonable thought. Homes were being evacuated just a few miles away.

My other neighbor Robert met me outside and I walked through the floodwater and around the corner to where the water was filling the street. The rainwater was gushing at a even faster pace than before and now from two locations. A rat jumped across the smaller stream and ran into the dark.

Robert asked, “Do you have flood insurance?”
I told him I wasn’t sure. I mean, who takes flood insurance when you live nowhere near a flood zone?

Robert decided to pack the wife and kids and went into his house. He could leave if he wanted to because of his truck.

Standing in the rain, I cried. It didn’t look good. I wasn’t upset about losing a house or dealing with damage. I was worried about having to tell my wife what was going to happen. I was worried for my dogs. I was scared out of my mind.

There was nothing I could do to stop that water. In that moment, I felt hopeless. I was at the mercy of the weather.

I asked Angela to start putting chairs onto of tables and other furniture on our kitchen island. We cleared the living room and dining room, the two places water would fill, first.

My bike’s headlight served as my flashlight and I pointed the 600 Lumen bulbs at the bush in my back yard. I saw a snake slither up out of the water. Two rats then jumped into the bush, climbed up the branches and headed for the top of our fence.

Robert called me. In an hour he only made it a few blocks away, ran into severely flooded streets and decided they were heading back home. I walked over to his house to make sure they were OK and I spotted what looked like 2 blue crayfish swimming in my yard on the way over.

“Man, fuck this rain Ron,” Robert said as he stood with me in the torrential downpour. We agreed to keep an eye on each other’s yards through the night. We’d text one another if anything happened. Neither of us were going to be sleeping with all this worrying to do.

At 2am I took a two-hour nap and I woke to see the rain water had receded a bit. I thought how it was strange I didn’t hear any thunder or see any lightning with the storm. This was my first hurricane though and I didn’t know what to expect.

No one could have expected what we woke up to the next morning.

It was devastating.

Harvey plucked people from their homes and tossed them into flooded streets so they’d have to be rescued on air mattresses, duct taped to coolers and from the sunroof of their car.

Families just a few miles away were being rescued from their homes by helicopters. There was nothing I could do to help because the water in my street was still past my knees.

But the water eventually receded.

We could  get out and drive, so I pulled all the clothes and shoes I could spare from my closet. I threw them into a garbage bag. Every piece of extra bedding we had and the extra pillows for guests were also put into bags and put in the car. Angela and I drove to Target and we passed cars abandoned in ditches, their windows left open so the occupants could escape the rising floodwater.

I couldn’t believe this happened on the road I ride my bike on.

We spent 30 minutes in line at Target to buy baby and adult diapers, bags of dog food and travel size toiletries.

Cinco Ranch High School didn’t have room for the donations and referred us to another shelter. I headed that way after crossing intersections of closed streets and convoys of trucks pulling boats, jet skis and rafts.

The school’s parking lot was pure chaos. First responders were trying to maintain order, volunteers had 6 grills lined up and were BBQ’ing food and the Texas National Guard was dropping off those who were just saved in the back of military land vehicles.

The volunteer at the door told me they couldn’t accept any more donations and they needed people to be brought to other shelters since they were at capacity. I told her I had room for one person and she brought me in to find someone who needed a ride.

Families with children and elderly evacuees sat, waiting for loved ones to get them and their belongings. Most lost everything except for what was in the bags in front of them. Some went outside with their dogs for a potty break. The scene broke my heart. These people lost everything. Why were we spared when they weren’t?

When I couldn’t find anyone who needed a ride, I was directed to Fullshear high school. It opened up a few minutes prior to my arrival and they needed volunteers and donations. Blackhawk helicopters flew overhead and another military truck arrived with a delivery of people.

The idea I had about disasters and disaster relief changed. Experiencing it in person was completely different than watching it on TV. I am used to seeing people get rescued from poorer neighborhoods with insufficient infrastructure. I’ve seen double wides getting ripped apart by tornadoes. What I don’t usually see are people being rescued from $700,000 homes, by someone driving a jet ski through their front door.

This happened in my neighborhood. This happened where I shop. This happened where I eat. This happened where I ride my bicycle.

Angela and I drove to Fullshear HS and in the 25 minutes it took us to arrive we were greeted by a line of cars headed to the back parking lot to make donations. In another 5 minutes, three lines of cars formed, 50 cars deep. People dropped off clothing, bedding, food and water. The National Guard were helping people unload and a helicopter was looking for a place to land. In a matter of minutes the school’s entrance had two piles, 7’ high of donated bedding and clothing and supplies.

I guess someone should have warned Harvey. Don’t mess with Texas.

On TV, I watched the parent’s of one of my wedding clients getting taken from their neighborhood on the back of a flat bed tow truck. Their rescue was broadcast and I said, “Holy shit! I know those people! I’ve been in that house!” It was a surreal experience.

For the first time in my life people I have a direct connection are suffering a massive loss at the exact same time. Friends are waiting to see if the Brazos overflowing is going to flood their home. Clients have emailed me and told me they’ve lost everything.

This devastation has affected everyone, no matter what their age, skin color, religion, sex, or political affiliation is.

500,000 people have lost their cars. Homes and businesses were destroyed. 80% of people effected by Harvey don’t have flood insurance. This is devastating.

Questions going through my mind are: What can I do to help? When I’m going to be able to fill my car with gas? When will my grocery store have milk, bread and vegetables? What’s going to happen to all of these displaced people? How will my business be effected through all of this?

Houston is strong. We will all rebuild. Things will go back to normal. But, I can’t help but wonder what the new normal is going to look like.

I wish I had answers.