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4 kittens

What the neighborhood looks like.

Posted on 2015.11.01 at 15:33
Last weekend we carved Halloween pumpkins. After a few days, they looked like this:

Pokey's pumpkin, carved by himself:

Designed by Ace, carved by Jammies:

and Hawaii's:

On Friday morning, there was a tornado sighting as I was driving home from xfit at 7 am. When I got home, Jammies had already taken the kids to school. I felt agitated. The backyard raged with water:

The elementary school sent out a text message that the kids were hunkered down in the hallway. "If you have not yet left your house, stay home," they said.  Hawaii was already there. Jammies was dropping the other three off at daycare, and he ended up staying there, while they waited out the tornado.

The tornado warning expired. Jammies came home. The water drained out of the backyard.  Grass resumed. It rained steadily.

Daycare announced that they were closing for the day, and could we come pick up our kids? I cancelled class, too, and stayed home.  It rained. The backyard was draining.

"The backyard isn't draining so well anymore," we observed. It stayed like that for hours. I sorted my clothes, the baby napped.

The backyard started to fill up. "We're probably going to have to evacuate," said Jammies, looking at the announcement from the city. We saw a nutria swimming in our backyard.

The baby still napped. "I'm halfway through baking bread," said E. Messily. "It's rising right now."  (The bread, not the water, although the water was too.)

We're on a hill. That's about how high it got during the Memorial Day floods, in May. Across our fence to our neighbor's yard:

The water kept coming. The bread went in the oven. The baby woke up. The power went out. It was time to leave. "What will happen with the oven when the power comes back on?" we wondered, nervously. It has electronic controls but is a gas range. "There must be some sort of safety mechanism," we reasoned.

The water was ankle-deep in the driveway as we loaded Rascal, Ace, and Pokey up into the minivan. (Remember, on a hill.) Jammies drove off to get Hawaii.  Messily and I took the kids to our friends' house.  It was around 1:00 in the afternoon.

This was our driveway as we drove off:

And then we just sat around and waited, at their house.

A little while later, our neighbor sent us this photo:

That's about three feet of water. I felt very agitated.

I started researching what you do when your house floods. (Contact your insurance. Photograph everything. Get air circulating. Get things outside to dry, if it's stopped raining.)

The Blanco crested at 42.56 feet at about 1:30 in the afternoon. The San Marcos river crested downstream at  36.27 feet, (but later that night, as it is measured at a town downstream. There aren't official water levels taken in town.)  The evacuation center near our house was itself evacuated. One of the elementary schools was also evacuated. There were photos online of kids being loaded into big military style vehicles. Still it rained.

Around 4 pm, Jammies and I tried to drive home and scout out our house, but the roads were still impassible, blocking our way home, and the interstate was a parking lot. We turned around and returned to our friends' house. E. Messily and the kids had stayed there.

Hawaii wrote two poems while we were out:

Circles are round.
Squares have sides.
Triangles have three.
Rectangles have four,
and circles have none.

Red, green, brown, and blue
That's the jungle crew.
Pink, purple and all the others,
That's a lot of colors.
White and black
Just go in the back, though.

I'm very fond of both of these poems.

We tried heading home again at 6 pm, before it got dark.  I was incredibly anxiety-stricken. We pulled up. The ground was thick and gross with dark brown mud. Everything looked gross.

The high water mark was a few inches below the floor level. Our house was dry. We walked around the house, dazed. Dry! All the lights were on. (But not the oven.)

This is the side of our porch:

You can see the water line, where the dirt stops, about two inches above the white trellis. The porch itself stayed dry. The insulation under the house got wet, but that's all.

We decided to spend the night with our friends - the AC had been underwater for hours, we couldn't thoroughly check out the pipes and wiring, and it was supposed to rain heavily overnight, some more. We packed up some overnight things and took the olive bread out of the oven, and left.

The pumpkins now looked like this:

I tried to hang on to that feeling of relief - things are great! Our house stayed dry! - but it was fleeting. In the middle of the night, I spent about three insomniac hours debating if we should raise the house or move. Raising the house would maybe cost $50K, I guessed, and we'd have to move out while it was being raised. If we moved, maybe I'd have a bigger closet. But the new place would have boring white walls and granite counters and I'd miss all my wallpaper choices. I listened to the hellacious rainstorm outside. If we moved, traffic would definitely be worse. We'd no longer be able to walk to all the parks on the river and to the town square. On the other hand, maybe the new house would have a mud room.

I just don't know how to process the idea that two 1000-year floods happened within six months. I don't know how to make sense of that.

The next morning we went home. The rain overnight washed away the standing mud and the street was more colorful and less ugly.

Saturday was awful, even though I should have felt happy and relieved. I should have been out there, helping our neighbors unload their property onto the curb, but it honestly didn't occur to me, because I had tunnel-vision about our own cooped-up situation.  We all stayed inside and tempers boiled over. Someone came by and gave out free dinners up and down the street.  Ace and Rascal both screamed continuously from roughly 2 pm until 5 pm.

The pumpkins now looked like this:

Gross and deflated, like my mood.

I have town-tragedy fatigue. One family we know was air-lifted from their house. A lot of the same houses and apartments flooded again.

We put on our Halloween costumes. (Wearily.)

E. Messily had spent all week transforming Hawaii into a blueberry. It was an amazing costume. We went trick-or-treating with some friends.

I perked up a bit, once I was out of the house and had a beer. Hawaii had made a checklist, so that she could keep track of how many houses they trick-or-treated at:

Jammies and I were a Combination Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, complete with song.

But now it's Sunday, and our neighborhood looks like this:

I don't know what will happen to the neighborhood. Will people move out? Will houses sit vacant? Be sold and torn down, rebuilt higher?  My spirit is kind of sagging.  I don't feel like carving pumpkins next year.

A number of cute minor things happened, during the week, pre-deluvian, but I'll save them for next week. Have some Rascal:


Susan Dennis
susandennis at 2015-11-01 22:44 (UTC) (Link)
UGH. I did think of you all of Friday as I watched it pour down at my brother's (just north of you but not on any river) via his webcam. Really terrible and so scary. I appreciate your posting a report. Sorry it isn't a better one but glad it's not worse. UGH.
heebie_geebie at 2015-11-08 23:41 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. I hope your brother was okay, too. It was a mess, but we're intact.
panisdead at 2015-11-02 02:13 (UTC) (Link)
Oh jeez, what a crazy nightmare. I'm really sorry to hear so much of this is repeat flooding, too.
heebie_geebie at 2015-11-08 23:42 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. Definitely, our poor neighbors and surrounding neighborhoods.
parodie at 2015-11-02 10:23 (UTC) (Link)
I'm so glad that your house stayed dry! It sounds incredibly stressful.

The pumpkin timeline is rather mesmerizing - watching as they slowly lose structural integrity. Very apt, of course.
heebie_geebie at 2015-11-08 23:43 (UTC) (Link)
The pumpkins were kind of the best part. There's still moldy residue on the porch, a week later. SO GROSS!
(Anonymous) at 2015-11-07 22:17 (UTC) (Link)
Jeez, that sounds incredibly scary. I'm sorry for your 'hood.

I have an amazing pumpkin collapse photo... but not a whole series.

heebie_geebie at 2015-11-08 23:43 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. They just don't make pumpkins like they used to.
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