Preparing the kids for hurricane-related storms

Destruction in Rockport from Hurricane Harvey

We live in Texas. Recently, Hurricane Harvey came to visit causing massive destruction to the coast and way too much rain to the city of Houston. We live in San Antonio which thankfully was pretty much untouched by the destruction.

But it did bring up some conversations with the kids, especially Lexie. Jase is typically our worrier but he seems to do fine with reassurance that we have a plan, that we know what we will do if an emergency comes up.

Lexie, on the other hand, is typically not a worrier, but she does become obsessed with certain topics. When she was in preschool, she became obsessed with death. Now her obsession is with hurricanes and tornedos.

It was the Thursday before school started that people in San Antonio finally accepted the fact that Hurricane Harvey was coming. People began buying water, batteries, flashlights and stocking up on canned goods. There were tons of reports about filling up your bathtub with water and having ways to cook if the power should go out.

Of course, for us that Thursday was filled with back to school activities at both schools. On Friday, we ran last minute errands before having the kids’ friends over for one last afternoon of fun before the school year began.

It was on our trip to the music store to tune up Jase’s violin that the kids first realized the severity of the possible weekend weather. I had already told them that we were cancelling our neighborhood’s Back-to-School pool party due to the predicted rain.

But they didn’t know how severe the storm might be until we decided to stop at Wal-mart on our way to the music store. I just needed a box of cereal and perhaps some fruit for the hoard of kids that were coming over in the afternoon. But I told the kids that if the store was overrun with people buying water (there was already a shortage by this time) that we would just do without our two items. Luckily, it wasn’t busy so we got in and out in just a few minutes but this started the whole hurricane conversation.

Now, San Antonio is 160 miles from the coast. We are not going to be hit with the full devastation of a hurricane. The land between us and the ocean will slow down the storm’s most destructive forces. What we are most likely to get is the strong winds and heavy rains – exactly what Houston received.

We talked about the possibility of massive amounts of rain and that city officials were recommending people stay home over the weekend. We talked about losing power and having to eat things in our pantry that didn’t need to be cooked since we don’t own a grill or camping stove.

Jase was reassured that we had a plan but Lexie was worried. What if things got too bad? What would we do? Had she ever been in a hurricane before?

Map of projected path for Hurricane Harvey as of the Friday before it hit land.

I reassured her that we were far from the location that the hurricane would hit. (Of course, at this time it was only a category 1 Hurricane. It would be a category 4 by the time it made landfall.) We would be fine. We repeated this over and over but she still worried.

We reassured her that many officials were watching the hurricane and we would be updated on its location and strength at all times. If we needed to evacuate, we would do that.

That brought additional concerns like the ones we had when we ran through a fire drill last summer. What would happen to all our stuff? What would we do about our pets?

Flooded streets in Houston after Hurricane Harvey.

As it turned out, none of this worry was necessary. The weekend came with rain but we got far less than the 12 to 20 inches originally predicted. Instead it all landed on Houston, flooding the streets that we had just visited over the summer. (Houston received over 50 inches in a four day period.)

With the rain fading for us by Monday the thoughts of the hurricane were pushed out of their minds as they started their new school year. We don’t watch a lot of TV so they have not been inundated with photos and video of the destruction of the coast or the massive flooding in Houston.

But they do hear about the firefighters, police officers and just regular citizens who are helping those devastated by the storm. They have seen our community come alive with offering shelter to evacuees and raising money and supplies for those who lost everything. Both schools have hosted food and clothing drives to help those in need.

It is amazing how everyone in Texas comes together in these trying times. People give their time to help strangers. They donate and volunteer and give and give as much as needed. It will take a long time for the areas to be cleaned up but it will be done. And I am glad my kids will get to see that type of dedication and teamwork. But I hope the sight of the flooded streets in Houston doesn’t cause Lexie to panic the next time a hurricane comes our way.

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