Harvey, Tigers and Aggies

#LSU #TexasA&M Soooo… We had the 100 year flood last year in Houston and our home wasn’t touched. Flood Insurance rates quintupled and we felt confident that we could save that money… Since we had just gone through the 100 year flood and didn’t get a drop of water anywhere. As the storm, Harvey, approached we prepared with water and food, etc. We knew we would get water and rain but since we had the 100 year flood last year, we weren’t too concerned with all the doomsday forecasts. We live in an area south southeast of Houston called Sienna Plantation and have been there for nearly 20 years. Yesterday morning, my eldest son who lives in a townhouse in the Memorial area of Houston right on Buffalo Bayou had no water in it and was not worried despite having warned him many times that Buffalo Bayou was going to potentially flood to historic heights. My daughter is in her first week at school at Texas A&M (Geaux Aggies) and got to experience a once in a lifetime event with the Total Solar Eclipse. As late as early yesterday morning we were told we might get some water in the streets but no threat to our homes. We prepared by moving tons of supplies upstairs at our home just in case water got in the house.  We got a report that my youngest son had 10-15 feet of water in his town home and we lost contact with him. Minutes later, we fortuitously heard on the news that we needed to get out of our subdivision right away.  We hurriedly looked for supplies to put in my wife’s and my cars and get out. Sienna Plantation has about 8-10,000 homes in it as it is a large subdivision, even by Texas standards.  Within a couple minutes we saw dozens of cars speeding out of the only road most of them have to get out of the subdivision.  Having seen Rita, Ike, Katrina and Tropical Storm Allison, we knew the next enemy could easily be highway gridlock.  My wife was fighting fear since she doesn’t swim.  But since she recently lost her sister and dad and we waved good bye to our daughter who chose to go to Texas A&M, it’s already been a very tough time for her. And this was proving to be too much.  She just wanted to survive.  So, with no place to go and having researched all the possible roads out of our area, coupled with my wife’s gripping fear, I convinced her that we could drive both cars with supplies to at least the highest spot in the county a large bridge over several roads, which was at least 45 feet in the air.  Once on top of the bridge, cars whizzing by, she joined me in my car, wind howling, rain pelting her.  We called a friend, an engineer who went to A&M many years ago and he was convinced he had a way to get to Brenham and gave us the route.  This meant we had to drive down off the bridge to lower ground which did not give my wife any solace at all.  And as we drove along the road known as the Fort Bend Tollway,  you could see that every exit had water and every feeder road was flooded.  We saw a sheriff on the side of the road and pulled both cars to a stop in front of him.  This guy immediately pulled his car out stopping the traffic behind us and rolled down his window knowing that we were in some sort of distress.  I asked him if the next exit was clear for a U Turn and he assured me it was.  We made the U-Turn to head back the other way back through Sienna Plantation to take a route my Aggie friend had discovered would get us to Brenham, which wasn’t too comforting either because Brenham had already experienced more than 20 inches of rain at that time.  Meanwhile we were still trying to find out about my son as we drove.  We found the mass exodus of 10’s of thousands of people in the area along the Brazos River and we could see the water beginning to fill streets.  Once we were stuck in the line of traffic, a second friend – our family doctor, Dr. Darin Mitchell with Natural Health Houston called saying his clinic was high and dry.  The clinic, located in an area close to Lakewood Church meant we had to drive roads that had been reported as flooded in several places.  So we made a U-Turn, back through our Subdivision and back over the high point in the county. Sheriff Deputies were everywhere helping with incredible joy and efficiency as they no doubt had their own families to be concerned about while they stood in the wind whipped rains. Amazing people, the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s deputies.  We drove back over the bridge and got word that my youngest son was OK and had water in his town home but was on the second floor.  We took the route Dr. Darin Mitchell had given us and arrived at his clinic, an old house just east of the Galleria Shopping complex.  He had showers and food and took off for an open grocery store to buy more food and supplies.  Dr. Mitchell had sent his wife and two young sons at the the beginning of the storm to stay with his in-laws in Liberty, Texas, some 30 miles to the east northeast of Houston.  His live-in housekeeper, a Filipino lady had left to visit relatives in Nebraska, some days back, leaving her two sons and daughter with Dr Mitchell and his family not expecting a storm of this magnitude would prevent her safe return.  Dr. Mitchell is now taking care of her children as his wife and sons ended up in an area that has so far received over 40 inches of rain.  Once we arrived we discovered a Mexican Restaurant called Pico’s was actually open.  Dr. Mitchell was at the grocery store standing in a line for 2 hours to get supplies as we waited for fajitas at the Mexican restaurant.  They put our food in a box and my wife pulled out her LSU pancho to cover the food and protect it from the driving rain.  So when she came out of the restaurant, with one of the Filipino kids carrying the food, my heart jumped because I am AN LSU TIGER !!  And all I saw was this smiling, incredibly nice Filipino kid with the LSU pancho covering the first food we had had a chance to eat in the previous 24 hours because of all the preparations we were going through in order to survive the storm.  GEAUX TIGERS!  Then we found out that the game with BYU was saved and moved to the Superdome – second catastrophe averted!!  My son is still trapped.  We’re sleeping in chairs and it’s 4:30 in the morning. I’ve had about 6 hours sleep the last two nights, but my wife, who spent the night looking out the window to see if the water was rising is sleeping peacefully in the chair next to me and I wanted to shout out to the Tigers and the Aggies.  My daughter has been at A&M one week, seen a total solar eclipse and the biggest flood in US History and what will be the most expensive natural disaster ever.  There are 100’s of thousands of people still in their homes surrounded by water.  The Aggie Engineer who was trying to help us called and his wife and he were stopped on a highway surrounded by water.  If we had followed him, we would have experienced a similar fate. They retraced their drive, on the wrong side of the highway and found a way to friend’s home so they too are safe and sound.  We’re told it will be up to 4 weeks before we can even get back to look at our home because of the amount of water and the time it’s going to take for it to recede and evaporate.  It is still raining here.  We are still awaiting word that my son is OK and we’re trying to coordinate a boat rescue for him.  My daughter says dorms are flooded at A&M and the grocery stores there – some 80 miles away – are also out of groceries while the first two days of classes, at a minimum have been canceled.  Sleepless, thankful and believe it or not, excited about what we are about to see, I wanted to let those who care see one of millions of stories that you will likely never know about.  This is the largest national disaster in US History and it’s not even close, affecting the Energy Industry, 8 million people, the 4th largest city in America and that’s before you even get to remember that a Category 4 Hurricane went ashore and destroyed several towns.   There are numerous Texas cities ordering whole town evacuations. There were more than 200 tornado warnings in a 24 hour period in the Houston area.  Our emergency system tones was going off around the clock.  We’ve likely lost everything.  But I have to tell you, that I am so excited. I’m about to have a front row seat for one of the greatest outpourings of the best of humankind, the world has ever seen.  When Katrina hit, Houston got to show what we’re made of.  Taking in the Louisianians to our east was a privilege.  Now we are down but not out by a long shot.  If we can get my son out of the town home before the water rises any more, my daughter into classes at Texas A&M, and an LSU Victory over BYU (and not necessarily in that order) life will be good again.  GEAUX TIGERS.  GEAUX AGGIES.  I can’t wait to see what’s next.  Our family motto and our company motto comes from Daddy Dale Brown, retired head basketball coach at LSU – a good friend and national coach of the year, “Adversity visits the strong and stays with the weak and the only difference between the two is the choice you make to be one or the other.”  We made the choice long ago to be strong no matter what.  So much so that I have to tell you, I am filled with excitement.  Rescue helicopters are whizzing overhead, even at this early hour.  And we are ready for the next chapter of this great privilege called life!!  Thanks to Dr. Darin Mitchell and Natural Health Houston.  This guy is amazing.  What a blessing to have a friend like him.