Houston, we will get through this

I’ve been offline this morning because I had to deal with some serious personal and property matters. We are living through the same disaster as the rest of you, and my family is near the epicenter in the Clear Lake area. I think we’re in a good place now—well, as good of a place as one can be right now—and so I’d like to share some perspective. For this afternoon, at least, Matt will continue to handle immediate forecasting duties.

Harvey and rainfall

Tropical Storms and hurricanes, along with earthquakes, tornadoes, and other events are called natural disasters for a reason. They are, truly, disasters. And that is precisely what has unfolded across the Houston metro area during the last 12 to 18 hours.

24-hour rainfall totals from Saturday morning-Sunday morning. (Harris County Flood Control District)

Last night’s rains flooded many of the area bayous, and some areas, such as Clear Creek in southeastern Houston, have blown through 500-year flood levels. What is so maddening about these rains is that we don’t know for sure when they are going to stop. So if I may, let me offer some advice.

First responders

Let the professionals do their job today, and tonight. According to Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, the city’s 911 system is being overwhelmed with calls on Sunday, many of which are not life threatening. “Please, let’s give preference to life threatening calls,” he said. Those include vehicles trapped in rising waters (the majority of deaths during flood events like this come in vehicles), and people in homes where water is rapidly rising.

Do not go into your attic, if threatened by rising waters, unless there is an exit. You could be trapped there. Instead, public officials advise going onto your roof, and to take white towels so that first responders from the city, county, or US Coast Guard can more easily find you. If that sounds grim, well, it’s pretty grim out there.

First responders are dealing with adversity too. Here, Houston Police Department’s Reisner facility is flooding. (HPD)

The other clear advice is to not drive on roads today, even if conditions appear to be clearing, because we expect more showers and flooding tonight. Even if roads are clear near where you are, they may not be where you are going. (If you absolutely must travel, Google maps, with traffic, offers a rough means of gauging which roads are passable at this time). But, as the mayor said, “The best way to keep from getting stranded is to stay off the street.”

Some perspective

The situation seems horrible now, and with the prospect of more rain, you may feel hopeless or helpless, or both. From a mental health standpoint, the uncertainty this brings adds a considerable amount of stress to an already stressful situation. I wish we could tell you when the rains will end, but we can’t. Here’s one thing we are sure of, however. The rains will end.

After that the sun will come out. Whatever you think about the government, as a democracy we have decided it is important to help neighbors in need, and if you need assistance, it will come. Homes will be rebuilt. They may be built higher, or on higher ground. We will need to have discussions about sustainable developments in and near floodplains. But Houston is a get-things-done city and we will move forward.

So when the rains return tonight, try to retain some perspective. The most important thing is not protecting your property, or risking driving through that high water you think you might make it through. The most important thing you need to do is remain calm, protect your family, and understand that this, too, shall pass.

Posted at noon CT, on Sunday, by Eric

77 thoughts on “Houston, we will get through this”

  1. Thank you. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of rising waters and howling wind.

    Reminding us that the rain will end, eventually, helps.

    • So true. Thank you Eric for your forecasting and for helping put it all in perspective. God bless and protect you and your family.

    • Thank you I needed to hear this I have only been Houston 5 years so I have been scared of the unknown thank God we live on the third floor and my apartment building has not been flooded but the street in front yes I’m scared for the people who are trapped I have been trying to be calm bit my first hurricane in Houston it’s an experience

      • Welcome to Houston but you need to know we did not get a hurricane we got what remained of Harvey downgraded to a tropical storm. Yes it is bad one with lots of rain. Hang around a while in our area and someday you will be able to claim you were in a hurricane. Just want you to know the difference but just know when you are told to prepare then heed the advice.

  2. Well written Eric, glad to hear you and yours are ok. Thoughts and prayers to those throughout Houston.

  3. So grateful for you, Eric. Please stay safe and we’ll be praying for you and your family. Thank you, Matt as well. We so appreciate you.

  4. The mental health point is extremely important. Stay calm and optimistic. We will get through this together, because that’s what Texans are: resilient. Take things day by day, or hour by hour with your survival and safety in mind. Stay safe everyone!

  5. Any forecast for the level in clear lake and the bay? It came up considerably last night which was surprising, impeding drainage for sure. Any idea if it has peaked, on when it will go down?

  6. What are the near term effects on food supplies to Houston, of flooding on water supply and quality and of flooding from the vast amounts of pollutants that will be released from contaminated lands.

  7. Thank you, Eric. It’s easy to lose perspective in the thick of things. That little bit of hope is a welcome injection.

  8. You are the voice of reason in an unreasonable situation. Sorry to hear of your problems.

  9. I just want to thank you for these thoughtful and informative posts. They are keeping me sane, as I worry about my parents in Houston while I’m safe and sound in Minnesota. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. And, again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  10. Thank you Eric. Prayers for you and your family. You and Matt have been a calm during this awful time. Much appreciated! ♥

  11. thanx Eric. Been following you since the Chron days. I’ve always appreciate your wisdom. My prayers are with you in this time.

  12. I live in Clear Lake and my house is fine. If I can provide you and your family with any help, please let me know.

  13. Thanks. My little 1958 house has taken on water for the first time on one side. So now I know where I need to level it again. Question should I evacuate (3 cats).

  14. Eric- thank you for taking the time to blend in the humane side of this experience. Sharing your own experience and addressing the power of the anxiety and uncertainty right now. I definitely felt relieved to see your reminders about the sun after the storm.

  15. You guys are the best . Thank you for all you do and I hope you and yours are safe and dry

  16. Thanks for continuing to keep us updated while you, too, are experiencing this disaster. As long as everyone is safe, the rest is just stuff. It may not always seem that way, but it is.

    Well, your TDL would be helpful to hold onto if at all possible. Gotta have that ID 😉.

  17. Kinda hard to protect my 90 year old parents in Meyerland, when my mother needs medical help, there is 3 feet of water in their home and both the 911 system and HFD will not answer. I tried to get there at 2am this morning and could not get into their neighborhood, and this was before the big morning rains…My wife says the same thing that you say. This will pass. I just hope my parents don’t pass.

    • Praying right now for your parents, Mikel. Also praying for wisdom and peace for you in this impossible situation.

  18. Thank you, Eric. Your forecasts, and even more, your thoughtful perspectves throughout this disaster, have been a life ring. I wish you and your family well.

  19. Thank you sir….just a thought, you ever think of running for council or mayor? Your city could use you!

  20. Thank you Eric and Matt. Worried sick about family in Houston. You’re helping me keep perspective without bothering (and stressing) them further with constant texts and phone calls. Thanks for the work you do. Be safe!

  21. What advice can you give to folks whose cell phone batteries are about to be drained down to zero, and who have no electricity? Will landline telephones be safe to use, if they still work? At what point does the situation affect land lines? If people have hand cranked radios, what precautions do you advise? What to do with pets? How many pets are being left to fend for themselves? Who will help reunite pets and owners?

    Can folks with ATVs and gasoline and small boats help the public? How?

  22. As much as I loved called Seabrook-La Porte home, more than a hundred years of family experience there (loss of multiple homes, cleaning up after salt-water flooding from many hurricanes and tropical storms) was a large part of calling it quits in Gulf Coast Texas.

    We’re now on the second year living in the High Desert in Arizona.

    (Our family business is now Hester Garden Park, owned by the city of Seabrook, and still available for those who enjoy it, though it may be in need of volunteers to help clean it up in the next few weeks and months.)

  23. If you all need anything and if we can help…. let us know!!!! You know you will have all the help you can get….. You’ve been here for us……… we are here for you!!!

  24. Thank you for your service and perspective. Prayers for you, your family and everyone affected by this natural disaster.

  25. As always, Eric and Matt, we thank you so much for your professionalism and empathy while reporting on these kinds of events. Please stay safe and practice good self care, as we are definitely in this together.

  26. Can bloggers get Pulitzers? You guys deserve one here. Thanks for the straight dope. Good luck to everyone here.

  27. Thank you, Eric and Matt, for a factual, thoughtful perspective…with good attitude. I am a new fan. I am also a therapist who can add that it will help to deal with the stress and uncertainty of this force of nature to a) stay in contact with friends and family who are and who are not dealing with the storm. Keep them factually informed about your situation. I have sent mine to your website for best info beyond my street. and b) be realistic about danger. heed good advice and c) focus on what you can do to be productive…journal, read, cook, clean the fridge or pantry. You know what I mean.

  28. America has your back. Believe we are all praying for everyone involved and hoping this comes to end soon.

  29. Watching from uk with family in Houston. Seems you have good emergency services that are really clued up. Wish you all well from Northern England

  30. Eric
    You gave me, and so many other, the feeling of …sanity;
    Do, I personally am in debt…please let us know how we can support you and your cause

  31. I thank you and Matt so much for your level-headed reporting always, but these past few days especially. I have been glued to your updates and shared your link with all of my out of town family. I pray your own family is safe through this storm.

  32. You guys are crushing it! I’m so grateful to have you as a resource. I’ve told all my out of state family to follow this site for all Harvey related info. Thanks for giving accurate, level-headed information without scaring the pants off my mother.

  33. Thanks a lot for your insights and perspectives, so useful, and may you and your relatives stay safe.
    Your sincere avid reader.

  34. Does the blog have a physical address? Because, I owe you guys a thank you card and so much more for getting me, my family and all of Houston through this.

  35. A banner post, Eric. Well done. Time passes, things change… A disaster like this reminds us of the importance of life and connection.

  36. Houston is the most generous, get it done city I have ever lived in. I’m in Austin now but will be donating generously to groups that help.

  37. Eric, when all this is over, you should write a book, including your posts, a la “Isaac’s Storm”

  38. I could hug you right now, Eric. Thanks for thinking of all of us while you are dealing with your stress. <3 Houston. <3 Houston's people. <3 people like you and Matt.

  39. Eric,

    Thanks for the message and all your work on this site. We are great full for your work and your expertise, and good luck with you situation.

  40. Thank you for your posts Eric and Matt. Thanks for the perspective Eric and the reminder that we will get through this! Hope you all are safe now.

  41. Everyone in Houston, be strong, remain calm, and take it as it comes. Thank you Eric for helping us get through this.

  42. Thank you for these wise words and your brilliant, level-headed forecasting. Truly a great help and comfort to all of us. Wishing you the very best with your situation.

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