Published on October 5, 2021

A ‘rain event’ turned out to be the longest night of my life

By Jan Edwards
The Bulletin

There was a little “tropical storm” coming up the coast and making landfall in Matagorda Bay. It was supposed to be a “rain event”, passing by in the night and moving on; they’d said so for days on the weather forecast.

Roy and I and our neighbors decided to ride it out at our homes on the San Bernard River. We didn’t know what we were getting into. The only precautions we took were to take our mower and cars to higher ground. We did have our medications, batteries, non-perishable food for us and the dogs and water for 3 days.

We turned on the news Monday, Sept. 13, at about 4 p.m. to see what the status of the storm was, but before the weatherman came on, our power went out.

The weather worsened, but we only poured 2 inches of rain out of our rain gauge. The wind picked up dramatically. As the sun set, we got out our electric lanterns and ate a ham and cheese sandwich (using it up before it went bad). When night fell, it was pitch black, and the wind was howling. Things started to go bump in the night. We wondered about this being a “rain event.”

When storms make landfall during the night, they make whatever sounds you hear much scarier because you can’t see what’s going on, and your imagination starts going into overdrive.

Around 8 p.m., Roy said the thump, thump, thump we were hearing was his kayak hitting the wall downstairs.

As the wind picked up, I was sorry I didn’t bring my Christmas cactus and Orchid cactus in the house, and I was sure the satellite dish would be torn off, siding ripped off the walls and fireplace logs lost.

The whole house swayed back and forth, causing the water in the toilet to splash back and forth, almost coming out the top. The rain was pushed horizontal by the strong winds. The wind screamed like a banshee. This was a “rain event”? This was a little nothing tropical storm?

I sat on the couch in the living room, holding one of our terrified little dogs with my cell phone next to me. I would not be sleeping tonight. The wind became stronger and stronger.

Then, at exactly 11:55 p.m. Monday, the wind stopped. Then I knew, this tropical nothing had become a hurricane, and the eye was passing overhead. Then the wind started again in the opposite direction.

I heard a rumbling, screeching wind. Loud bumps and thumps went all around us outside.

I was glad I did not see what that tornado was doing. I prayed for God to put his hands around us and protect us, our little house and our little dogs. I prayed for my neighbors’ safety as well. I knew my cacti were gone now – couldn’t be helped. I prayed for morning light.

That was the longest night of my life. Not even my blood pressure meds worked that night. But finally, the wind abated, and the morning dawned. We had about two feet of storm surge in our yard. But, our satellite dish, our fishing lights, our deck, our cars and mower made it.

We only poured 4 ¼ inches of rain out of our rain gauge.

Our neighbors did not fare as well. One of them across the canal took a direct hit from the tornado. It took out their office, well house, storage tank, the well head and about six feet of well pipe.

The neighbor directly across the street lost her entire carport. When it tore out, it flipped up and broke a window on the upper floor of the house that the rain then flooded.

Still, another neighbor had something big blow an eight-foot by eight-foot hole through his home’s siding insulation, wall, Sheetrock, studs and all.

At the height of the storm, one of our neighbors went to get the neighbor across the street and took her to safety. When the storm was over, that same hero brought us a generator to keep our food cool. He even brought gas and would not take anything for it. His family produced a trailer and truck from somewhere and cleaned up the debris on Fisherman’s Isle.

Jackson Electric did not make it down the next day. With no power, we had no landline or Internet. We were one of thousands of homes in the Jackson Electric service area without power. All we could do was wait.

In the midst of all this mess, my Christmas Cactus was still sitting on the table, only turned on its side. It wasn’t even beaten up. And the pot of Orchid Cactus? Well, somehow, the wind moved the two chairs and the table the plant was on together with the pole holding the roof on to form a perfect corral.

The little plant was under the slats of the table shelf, hemmed in on the sides with the post and chairs - intact.

We were blessed and thankful. We weathered the storm.

(Write Jan in care of The Bulletin. Email: john.bulletin@gmail.com. Snail mail: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX, 77516.)