On the morning of August 29, 2017, Hurricane Harvey wasn’t quite finished with my family. Yes, the water had receded from our house. But the flood had forced my elderly aunt upstairs. She wasn’t familiar with her surroundings and she fell, injuring herself. She had to go to the hospital and I needed to pack a new bag and meet her there. And that’s the moment I realized, I was finally, definitely was going home. There would be no turning back in the rain like the day before. I want to pause here to thank KHOU management and my co-workers for allowing me to walk out on them at a time when I should have been there to help. They were all very supportive. I felt bad about leaving them. But at that moment, more than ever, family came first. I loaded up the car and took one last look at downtown Houston. I wouldn’t be seeing my favorite skyline again for a while.
I drove past KHOU. Soon, I wouldn’t be seeing it again forever. It was flooded by four to five feet of water and in the coming months would be torn down. I worked there for 33 years.
On the drive home it was still raining. It made me think of that old song, “Who’ll Stop the Rain.” It dawned on me, I should be telling people if the roads were clear. Information like that had come in handy during Tropical Storm Allison. I told my followers they could get from Montrose to the Medical Center safely. 193 people retweeted it. I told them they could get from the Medical Center to the West Loop without a problem. 111 people retweeted it. People were hungry for any flood information they could get. Where they could drive. Where they could gas up. Where they could eat. Etc.
As I approached, my home, the signs of a flooded neighborhood were everywhere. Furniture thrown out. Carpets ripped up. We had shown video like that on TV a thousand times, but now, after a trip to the hospital, it would be my turn.
I pulled up to our house at 10:41a.m. I was home.
I’ve never been so happy to walk up to my front door in my life. I still had a home. I’ve never been so thankful to see the people I love. I still had my family. We had a long road ahead of us, but we had each other and we had the upstairs. We would figure out the rest.
Later that day in the hospital, my frail aunt lay in bed watching KHOU. I asked her how she felt, referring to her own condition. She answered, “Oh, I’m just praying through this whole thing. Help the people, Jesus. Help the people." She was worried about her fellow man. That’s old school. That’s Texas. As I watched the news, you could see there were thousands of people just like her that day. Wanting to help others. Flying rescue helicopters. Giving boat rides. Carrying people on their backs. In the days to come, co-workers and friends began arriving at our house with hot meals. Many thanks to all of you for your kindness. The mayor had been right. Houston had come on up for the rising.
As for me, I returned home to help clean the flood damage. When you get older, things get taken away from you. But one of the hardest things you’ll ever do is throw out the things that mean something to you. By the time I was finished, a big part of my life was piled on the corner. I could read the list to you but I’ll pick one item. My record albums. I had 100 of the best album covers of the 1960’s and 70’s you’d ever want to see. I loved to look at them. They connected me to my youth. But Harvey flooded them and sent a stark reminder that sometimes…you have to let go. And so that’s what I did. I let go. And right about then was when the sun came out.