You might have heard about it a year ago, but a pretty severe hurricane hit Texas a year ago. It came ashore near where I live and work, and it directly impacted me in ways I'm only now realizing the depth of. My hurricane story begins when I heard there was somthing in the gulf that looked like it might come at us, so I texted my husband and told him he might want to stock up on things that wouldn't need refrigeration/that we could cook on the grill. By that Thursday things were looking worse. I packed a bag with a few days worth of clothes in case the call was made that we were sheltering in place at work. That morning I was in the weather briefing where it was announced that the storm would be at least a category 2 when it hit our town. The facility I work for planned to evacuate if it was going to be above a category 1, and I knew I was part of that evacuation. I called my husband and told him that I was at work indefinitely from that point and I would not be able to help at home. He drew a line that if our city called for a voluntary evacuation (I work a town over from my home), he would pack up the kid and pets and head to my parents' house (they live a couple hours inland). That call came not long after, so he secured the house and left. I worked until 10 that night, went to my empty house to sleep a while, and then shut things down to return to work.
I got to the facility at 4 in the morning, because our evacuation vans were to arrive at 6. I snapped this picture of our boarded up Whataburger on my way in because I couldn't think of a better representation of how serious this was going to be (Whataburgers never close, I'm pretty sure one stayed open during the investigation of a shooting that happened in the restaurant). We got our residents loaded and the last of the administration team hit the road to our evacuation points as the rain began to fall. The next few days are a blur, I spent my time keeping in touch with the families of the residents in my team's care, making sure my nurses were taken care of, doing what I could to help with my residents, and trying to get some restful sleep after very busy days. I stayed in touch with my guys and got lots of pictures of my son playing with his cousins and having a great time. Despite being around people constantly through the process, it was the most alone I have ever felt. I was so glad my guys were safe from the storm and the flooding, and it made being away from them easier, but not easy.
After a couple days I was able to go back and check on my house, I can't tell you how fortunate we were. The house is almost a hundred years old, and it stood strong through some incredible situations. I won't even deny that I cried a little when I realized that it was ok and we would be able to return as soon as power came back on and my evacuation duties were complete. A little over a week after the whole thing started, my boys went back to the house, and my residents went back to our facility. The cleanup is still going a year later, but the areas hit have survived and continue to improve.
I hated being away from my family through such a stressful time, but I knew they were safe. I was able to give that same reassurance to a number of families who were far away or unable to care for their loved one during the evacuation, and I was glad I could help them with that. Hurricane Harvey is definitely something I will never forget, but its definitely not something I want to relive again.