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Like Cousin Eddie in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Hurricane Harvey flooding made an unwelcome visit to our Houston home this past Sunday morning. For the next 17 hours, we sloshed around downstairs saving what we could and taking breaks up on our balcony to watch the show going on outside. Here are eight practical lessons we learned to survive Hurricane Harvey’s floods.
Have a working inflatable raft/boat
You’ve probably got inflatable mattresses for guests. Get an inflatable raft too. If things start to look like you could need it in the next 12 hours, blow it up while you have power. Hell, you can throw in pillows and blankets and let the kids sleep in it so you don’t feel stupid having a boat inside your house.
We watched dozens of people with trash bags walking in thigh deep water to escape Hurricane Harvey flooding. You won’t use the raft if there is rushing water but in the slow rising flood we had, it would have helped. After dark, we saw an elderly lady with a basset hound and a younger woman trudging down the street toward safety. It wasn’t until then, we remembered we had an inflatable boat in the garage under all our crap.
Resist the urge to flush!
If you are sheltering in place and there is water all around, don’t go flushing after every visit to the john. First, the only water you have may be what’s already in the pipes and secondly, where is that flush going to go? Putting toilet tissue in trash can would help too.
Have rain boots
I bought some for a NOLA Jazz Fest that turned into a mud fest. After sloshing around in eight inches of water all morning, I remembered them. With rain boots, you are invincible! Trudge out to the garage to help get the freezer up on cinder blocks? Great! Go downstairs to rescue some medications? Fine! Check on the pick-up truck that was abandoned on the side of our house during the height of Hurricane Harvey flooding? Done! If you don’t have rain boots, buy some. Target usually has cute ones.
Dogs “gotta’ go too” – take pity on your pet
It took hours for our dog Lucy to finally give up and pee in the flooded yard. If you dog is well trained, it may be stressful for them to even consider peeing in the house. From now on, I’m going to have a package of puppy pads stashed in the upstairs bathroom.
This next part is kind of gross but I think I’m going to follow Lucy out to pee and get a little of the urine scent on a paper towel. The plan is to freeze it after I’ve triple bagged it. That way, we can scent a puppy pad so she knows it is all right to go inside. It wouldn’t be the worst thing I’ve ever found in my freezer. That was a frozen bobcat.
Or do what a neighbor across the street did. He has four Bichons. We saw him float his dogs across flooded Rice Avenue in a big red plastic tub. He was taking them across to the high ground of the fire department.
Move your coffee maker upstairs
If you usually need coffee to get started on a normal day, facing a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey flooding is no time to forego caffeine. I braved mucky water in the kitchen to retrieve my Keurig, French roast coffee pods and a little carton of cream. You won’t believe the difference it made.
Load up at the library
You’re going to want a variety of things to read especially since there is no newspaper delivery. I’m on book two of the three I brought home. Non-stop disaster coverage of Hurricane Harvey flooding gets old and you need a break.
Live in a two-story home with a balcony if possible
It must be hell to evacuate for an extended stay with only clothes you are wearing and a backpack. In spite of our downstairs being flooded, I thank God we live in a two-story home with a balcony. During the worst of it, we had a front row seats to what was happening. Now we are living upstairs while we repair. If the water had continued to rise, it would have been easy to signal help with the last thing on this list.
Have a big white sheet or towel handy
If all else fails and you must signal for rescue, this is a common sign of distress. Don’t be without one to drape on your roof or hang on your balcony.
What would you recommend?
Hurricane experts may disagree with some of my suggestions but as our Hurricane Harvey flooding adventure unfolded, these are the things I was glad we had or wished that we could have. Stay safe!