HOME ARCHIVE 2017

Harvey took us all for a long, dangerous ride, but we pulled together and made it through

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

I woke up the usual time and quickly went outside to check on what Harvey had done while I was sleeping.

It was a short night, but long enough, considering that a Category 4 made landfall in Rockport, just about a two-and-a-half hour drive from us.

At the first light of dawn, I sloshed through the wet grass and puddles and checked on the house and cars. They were all there and accounted for, just like the night before. A few branches down, but that was about it.

Then I saw on TV what devastating damage Harvey had caused. Just to make me feel worse, the reporters kept reminding me that there was more to come. And there was. Boy, there was a lot more.

It seems like almost every time some major weather event happens, the TV personalities stress that we are in for a lot more. Why can’t they just wrap it up with that one catastrophe, and let’s get on with our lives? Hurricanes should know this rule, also.

Most of the time there really isn’t anything else coming. They just say it to hype the story and scare viewers some more.

This time, though, the warnings of more to come were actually believable. There was a lot more rain and wind coming our way. I checked different sources, and they all agreed that trouble was heading our way. Houston and surrounding areas got drenched again.

I was hoping we’d get lucky again, but the red and purple spots on the radar kept coming our way. The radar doesn’t know that this system has to move on and leave us alone. But then we got lucky. We hit a dry gap, allowing us to recover some.

But the bands were forming again and coming back for another night visit. That’s another problem I have with these storms. Why do they have to mess with us at night? It is a lot scarier at night. In Harvey’s case, though, the night and day were equally scary.

There is an upside to all this, like when the Weather Channel reporters go on location and put themselves in a position to be whipped around a little by the winds. That is supposed to show us how dangerous it is out there.

The theatrics are needed for TV. Print reporters don’t have to do things like that. We don’t need to get blown away, just interview those who survived being blown away.

My former editor messaged me that if we were still working at the Houston Chronicle, I’d be sloshing through the flood waters chasing stories. I messaged back that I would enjoy doing that again, but would not be sloshing; I’d find someone with a boat.

I covered my share of floods during the Chron years. These days, I exchange the boots and boat for a keyboard and try to keep people informed through The Bulletin’s Facebook page.

I like watching the Weather Channel for the preparation part, and the local channels for the aftermath. One of the best parts is when on-the-scene reporters excitedly tell the rest of us that conditions are so dangerous that authorities will not make rescues in the area until things die down.

Wait just a minute. It’s not too dangerous for the TV crew? They’re out there with their bulky cameras and microwave transmitters that reach up to about 16 feet. How come they can hop all around in the wind?

The local stations did some great on-the-spot reporting during the Harvey aftermath, which was devastating. Not much theatrics and a lot of solid information and human interest.

But what’s really important is that we all stay safe and pull together and help each other afterwards, like we have this time and many other times.

We have showed the world what Texas is all about. We are a selfless and sacrificing bunch. It’s the way we do things in Texas.