I lived through Tropical Storms Allison and Harvey, both of which inundated the city with more water than I thought was possible. I lived here for Hurricanes Alicia and Ike. And I’ve seen what just an hour of hard rain can do to otherwise safe streets. I have a healthy respect for rain and have learned to take advisories of inclement weather seriously.
So when my favorite weather site is saying that we’re going to have a bad storm, I pay attention.
On Tuesday I spent the day trying to convince people that they should listen to the inclement weather predictions. “They’re saying it’s going to be bad starting tonight and get worse later in the week,” I said. I encouraged clients to get their crisis plans in order. I successfully advocated to cancel a workshop my business was hosting the next morning. And I made contingency plans.
Of course, I was proven wrong the next day. The rain largely ignored the inner loop of the city. And while the outer regions were deluged with rain, the city itself stayed mostly dry. So on Wednesday it was business as usual.
I felt weirdly disappointed. And very foolish.
While I knew that the storm had hit neighboring cities hard enough that they were evacuating, I mistook the cloudy but rain-free sky this morning as an indication that all was well and I didn’t look at the radar until late in the morning. Then I left for a meeting.
That was a mistake.
I hadn’t realized that the north side of the city had been blasted with intense rain that morning already. I didn’t realize that the rain we were receiving was moving to cover the city. It was the kind that floods a city in record-breaking ways. I didn’t realize that I’d forgotten the “will get worse later in the week” part of my speech on Tuesday. I didn’t realize that I really should have stayed put.
I made it home without incident, after crawling my car through the freeway under a darkened sky with rain the entire way. Others were not so lucky.
- My business partner was stuck in a grocery store for hours, caught by high water while he tried to pick up his son at school.
- My siblings were stuck at work until the last kid was picked up (they are teachers).
- My nephew went home with a friend (while my sister waited for other children to be picked up and my brother-in-law braved very high waters to make it back into town). Their car was stuck in high water and they had to walk the last few blocks to make it to his friend’s house. They made it safe, wet but safe.
- And so on, and so on.
I spent the day watching news reports of the city’s flooding, of one of the top ten “wettest” storms do its worst. I spent the day checking in with family members as they each made their way to home and safety. I spent the day wishing I had been completely wrong.
How was your day?