Growing up in a coastal community in South Texas, I am no stranger to hurricanes. Oftentimes, my dad boarded up the windows around the house, and we hunkered down to ride the storm out. There was always a steady supply of bread, peanut butter, and pretzels along with a wide array of board games and library books.
Sometimes the forecasted hurricane conditions looked too bleak, and my mother, brother, and I would head north destined for San Antonio to ride out the storm there. My dad always stayed behind with my uncle and grandfather to make sure the shrimp boats made it in safely and were secured for the storm.
My mom fondly reminds my brother and I, from time to time, about how we were convinced we could safely ride out an approaching hurricane in a giant cardboard box my father had in the garage. Obviously we were too young to know any better back then!
More recent hurricanes that stand out the most vividly in my mind include Katrina, Dolly, and Ike. Katrina devastated New Orleans in August of 2005. It was the summer after college graduation, and I was in Las Vegas at an apparel trade show. I remember watching the footage from the hotel lobby. My heart breaking as the conditions intensified for the residents of Nola.
Hurricane Dolly ravaged the Rio Grande Valley in July of 2008. This storm brought torrential rain, wind, and power outages that lasted over a week. I braved the storm at my apartment in Harlingen with my roommate, Beatriz. I never realized how much I took coffee, a hot shower, and air conditioning for granted. Hurricane Dolly and my mother both shared the same namesake; tocayas in Spanish. Her name was the brunt of many jokes among our family and friends as she wreaked havoc on South Texas.
Then in September of 2008, Ike blazed through Houston and left many of the coastal areas in disarray. While Houstonians braced for the worst, my friends and I paddled out into the Gulf of Mexico on our surfboards. In Texas, summer waves are typically pretty small. However, coastal areas south of a hurricane often create ideal surfing conditions. Hurricane Ike definitely provided local surfers epic waves that easily towered over eight feet high.
Now over ten years later, I’m facing a new hurricane, Harvey. Thursday after work, I braved H-E-B to ensure we had all the essentials to brave the storm. I was amazed to discover many of the foods the store had already sold out of my 4:00 in the afternoon including bananas and milk. Thankfully I managed to find a cartful of non-perishable food items including bread, water, cashews, mandarin oranges, Granny Smith apples, tomatoes, baby food, diapers, soup, and beef jerky.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Corpus Christi this morning and many of our Texan neighbors in the surrounding areas will need assistance as they recover from the storm. The storm is predicted to bring large amounts of rain to the Houston area in the coming days. I am hopeful the rain will stall and have a far less significant impact on the area than originally predicted. In the meantime, I am hunkered down with my family waiting for the storm to pass again. I’m praying that my storied past with hurricanes ends on a high note with everyone around me safe and sound.