Monday, November 6, 2017

Hurricane Harvey: Timeline of Destruction and Hope

It's been two months since Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas. I've been wanting to write down my thoughts, but have been waiting for my own internal storm to calm down before writing. It's been a long road and we still have a long ways to go still, but I can now see the hope and light through this tragedy.

Here is a brief timeline of what happened to us during the hurricane:

Wednesday, August 23: I'm a stay-at-home mom who watches little news, so today was the first day I had even heard of "hurricane Harvey". The hurricane was gaining excitement quickly. I say "excitement" because many people around here were doing your typical freak out things like buying all the bottled water and bread off the shelf. No worries for us since we had planned to leave town for the weekend.

Thursday, August 24: I went to Emerson and Henry's preschool for a meet the teacher that morning. Again, lots of talk and excitement around the news. I was even a little sad we were going to be out of town to miss the "event". After all, we had never experienced a hurricane even though we had lived close to the Texas coast for six years. The teachers even had a delayed school start plan if anything were to happen. All us moms laughed as we knew NOTHING would stop us from getting our kids to school after a long summer break. Ha!

We left town right after the meeting to see my family for a final time before the baby came. I remember running by our house and pulling our garbage cans inside our backyard fence so our trash wouldn't flow down the street in case the water got a little high. In hindsight, what was I thinking???? This was the only flood prep we did. Again, we were clueless to the possibilities of true damage that could be caused.

As we drove out of town we saw tons of road sign warnings urging everyone to stay away from the Texas coast. I just smiled.

Friday, August 25: The day I was a little nervous, but not panicked about our home safety. Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast as a category 4 hurricane. News channels said this was the strongest hurricane to hit the United States in more than a decade. It devastated areas like Rock Port, Corpus Christie and other coastal towns along the gulf coast.

Saturday, August 26: The hurricane hit our home town of Katy hard. Flooding has begun and the town experienced several tornado warnings. I started staying in touch with our neighbors for updates. Meanwhile, we are trying to enjoy our family time in Oklahoma, but really it was very stressful on us being so far away and helpless. We just kept saying "what if" or " if only". What if we'd just taken the time to unplug things, or move things upstairs. If only I'd moved those photo albums! My mind was racing with what might be safe and what was going to be lost.

Sunday, August 27: We woke up to the horrible news and full realization of how much damage Harvey had created. Several were dead, thousands of homes lost, and no end to flooding was in sight. Unlike most hurricanes, Harvey was just sitting on top of Houston and not moving on through. This is the day we had planned to go back home, so it was hard to mentally wrap our minds around not being able to go home and even if we could, what would we go home to?

Monday, August 28: We hear from our neighbors that the water has entered all of our homes. By this point, most all my neighbors that I had been in communication with were being boat rescued. We lose all contact around what is happening to our home.

(not our home, but our neighbors)

Tuesday, August 29: The silence and unknown is unbearable, so we drive to Austin to stay with friends and be as close to home as possible. We needed to regroup. Unfortunately we learn it could be several weeks before we are even able to enter our home. It has finally sunk in that we are homeless and will be displaced for many months...and yet so many more unknowns to come. Today was hard.

Thursday, August 31: We load up on supplies while in Austin and head back to Katy to stay with friends. Today was the first day we see the flooding in our area, but still couldn't get to our home to assess our personal damage.

What happens next is a turning point...our first signs of hope. 

Saturday, September 2: Our home is still not accessible by car and the roads surrounding our neighborhood are being blocked by National Guard, but Jesse and another friend were able to walk in by foot, some places were chest deep in water. The water had receded from our home and was now just in the yard. We confirm we had about 16 inches of water in our home. This was actually the first piece of good news we received!
 (leftover muck on the floor)

In the next coming days we are overwhelmed by the generosity of the people in our church, friends, family, co-workers and community. We start gutting our home and eliminating the threat of mold.

September 8: I see our home for the first time since the water had receded from our neighborhood. It was hard, but good for me to emotionally process.


The week of September 24: Rebuilding our home has begun! We had family, friends and our church family there supporting us and helping us start the rebuild process.


October 5: The boys see our house for the first time. We wanted to wait until the majority of the trash piles had been picked up from the front yard so the boys didn't have to see their toys destroyed. We also wanted to show them that our home was being rebuilt instead of being destroyed. Like me, I think it was good for them to see what had happened so they could start processing.

Present time:  Everyday brings new challenges, and exciting changes and hope. I feel as though the most stressful time is behind us. Through all of this, we have seen Gods people at work and have seen the blessings flow down upon us. I reminded that God allows tragedy to happen, but he also suffers and mourns with us through the journey. We are using this experience to become stronger in our faith and learn how to help others.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Colorado is Calling Me Home

There are some beautiful places in the United States and in this world, but there is just something about Colorado in the summertime that I love more than any other place.

I was super lucky to get to go to Denver/Boulder/Estes Park with friends AND take our family vacation to Durango all in the same month. I feel like I could permanently pick up and move the summer that is.

I was a little nervous to see how the boys would do on a 17 hour road trip on top of a very active week, but they did awesome! I should have known that anything that involved being active and staying outside would hold their interest.

DAY ONE: Full of just exploring the town we stayed in, Durango. The boys swam and played basketball at the hotel (daily), we explored the train museum, fed the fish at the fish hatchery, explored downtown, and hiked a tiny bit of the Colorado trail. We didn't have to hike far to find a good river spot to throw rocks and get our feet wet. The water was freezing!

DAY TWO: Today was all about the train! Again, I was a little nervous to see how the boys would do, because it was almost a four hour train ride, followed by a few hours in a small mining town, and then an hour and a half bus ride back to Durango. The boys loved every second! The train ride captivated them. Henry got a little fussy here and there, but other than that, it was a great day.

DAY THREE: Today was all about the journey to Ouray. It was a two hour mountain drive, so we took our time and stopped when we thought we wanted out. The town was gorgeous! Lots of cute shops and places to eat. Lots of four wheeling in this town. We chose a short hike in Box Canyon to see a waterfall, no great photos of it though.

DAY FOUR: National Park day! It was a last minute decision, one we don't regret, but we decided to pack up a day early and hit two of the national parks before leaving Colorado. First stop was Mesa Verde. Didn't think the boys could handle a walking tour, but we enjoyed the scenic drive.

Second up was the Great Sand Dunes National park. Wow, it was so neat to see. We had no expectations going into it, but it impressed us. Unfortunately, a rain storm had come through and they wouldn't allow us to rent the sand sleds (too dangerous on wet sand?)...this turned out to be a huge blessing. What comes down, must walk back up some very steep dunes. The boys wore themselves out just running up and down the dunes.

The weather also allowed us to get into the park for free AND we also got some neat photos. So the weather turned out to be not so bad. Win, win.

Besides our four days of actually vacation fun, there were four days of travel, which we made fun along the way. Since we had a change of plans on our last day, we changed our travel direction, which allowed us to meet up with my parents on our way home. And then on our final day of travel we met my sister and her family in Fort Worth as they were traveling on vacation. Such a bonus to see family on the way!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


And I mean let's do a major rewind. In fact, let's pretend it's not almost August and I haven't posted since February. Yikes.

We've had so many things happen between now and then, that I've actually had plenty of things to write about, just not the time. So instead of going back and writing a very long post, I'm recapping our life since February. So here are the highlights:

March: We found out we are moving back to Katy, TX. I declare this month March Moving Madness. I went on a girls trip with my mom and sister. My mom watched the boys while we went house hunting. My sister and her family came to visit, and my brother and his family came to visit.
Oh and the biggest news of all, we found out we are expecting baby number three!

April: Jesse officially started his new job on April 1. The long commutes and overnight stays have begun. We sold our house and bought a house all on the same day.  Emerson turned FOUR! We celebrated by going to Chuck E Cheese and then with a little party at church friends. This was the boys last month at school. We say final goodbyes to our Lumberton home and get the keys to our new home.

May: Moving month!  So I now officially declare this month May Moving Madness (part 2). We got the keys at the end of April, but our stuff didn't arrive until May. We celebrated my 31st birthday. Jesse's parents visited, and then my parents stopped for a short visit and took the boys back with them to Oklahoma so Jesse and I could take a mini vacation to Las Vegas with friends.

June: We found out baby number three is another BOY. To celebrate we had the most amazing dessert, a warm doughnut stuffed with ice cream.YUM.

July: We visited my best friend and her husband in Austin, TX. Took the boys to their first firework show on the Fourth of July. Both did really well with the load noises. I turned 20 weeks with baby number three. I spent a girls weekend away in Colorado celebrating my friends upcoming wedding. And we took our family Colorado vacation, separate post is already in the works on this one. Promise.


And I think that about does for a quick catch up. See, you didn't miss much in the McKee life. Just some major life events, no biggie. 
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