It was a Facebook message from a stranger that finally made me break down completely.
When I look back on our Harvey experience, what I remember most is the constant anxiety – watching the water rise in our neighbourhood, getting closer and closer to our front door; the almost constant tornado alerts; the panicked messages at 6am one morning as we tried to work out if the evacuation notice for our area was mandatory or voluntary.
Even now, a month later, it is hard to put the events of that week into any kind of chronological order or to give the experience a neat narrative storyline. Key moments stand out – waiting for evacuated friends to arrive while watching the water getting higher and higher, only to get a phone call to say that they’d spent more than an hour trying to find a passable route to our home, and with that the realization dawning that we were marooned. The text message from a colleague showed a photo of the view from his rescue boat. The stories of colleagues and families sleeping in offices or strangers’ homes, the last-minute escapes – friends leaving homes, not knowing when they would get back or what they would find when they did.