Hurricane Harvey. A terrible flooding event that has dominated television, newspapers, and social media alike. It’s a dreary first blog post, but since I’ve gone through Katrina and Harvey, there’s been a lot of introspection this week on that time and the books I read. Besides, what else is there to do when you can’t leave your apartment for five days?As a resident of Houston, I’ve gone through several flooding events since I moved here. It’s caused by a mixture of our lack of zoning and amount of concrete on the ground. It also doesn’t help that its a city built in an area prone to flooding. Harvey exasperated all of that by dumping 50 inches of rain in some areas. I’m lucky to live in an area with incredible drainage. A lot of people in Houston weren’t.
A week ago, I was stranded in my apartment waiting for the water to go down in the streets around me. It was also eerily similar to another storm I’ve gone through: Hurricane Katrina.
Cronk family, circa 2005
(Not during Katrina)
Twelve years ago, I was back in Houston after evacuating to Waco, TX on August 28, 2005 around 2 am. My dad had to go back to work so they moved us to a downtown Houston hotel. It was weird living in hotels. I’m from Houston, but my heart was in New Orleans. Back then, I planned on living there as an adult and I was worried it was gone. I was worried about the people who stayed. I was stressed about what happened to my home, my friends, my school. My town wasn’t included in the news because of a military base. We did a lot of searching through satellite images to find our house and calling people who might know more than we did.
One of the most vivid memories of that time were all the books. And I really mean ALL THE BOOKS. I came back with more books than I left in New Orleans when I evacuated. I was under a lot of pressure during this time like everyone effected and my coping mechanism was to read.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Series by Ann Brashares
This is probably the biggest sign of the times. My mom brought the first two books with her when she evacuated. We knew we’d be gone for a while so why not catch up on some reading? A month and a half later, we were allowed to go home. I had read the books she brought with her and surprised her with the third one for her birthday. It’s more like “surprised” because she caught me in the bookstore shopping for her, but it is still a sweet memory for me.
1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina by Chris Rose
In 2005, Chris Rose was synonymous with New Orleans journalism. I read his column religiously, especially during Katrina. He was funny, emotional, honest (sometimes to this discomfort of the reader), but I loved viewing New Orleans through his eyes. As the TV crews left, he told the stories of the devastation that continued. It’s not a perfect book on the storm, but it was a darling of the time. After I left for college, I was sad to miss the book signing of this book, but my mom snagged me a copy as a surprise when I came to visit.
Breach of Faith by Jed Horne
This book made me furious. It was the required reading for the freshman class of 2007 at Katrina and I did not want to read anything else about Katrina unless I decided to. It still effected everyone who lived in New Orleans. I still recommend it to others because it does include stories from people during that time and talks about the politics that caused the disaster. The book discussion at LSU was mainly New Orleans people talking about how they weren’t ready for a book about the devastation of Katrina. It was a relief to know I wasn’t the only one uncomfortable by it, but I couldn’t finish it.
Special mention goes to the classics I collected during Katrina
I bought an outrageous amount of books during this time, but a lot of them were classics. Canterbury Tales, The Awakening, Ten Days That Shook the World, Villette, etc. I don’t have a picture of them because I donated them all to a classroom for kids who need copies of them for school. Or kids that believe classics make them look really smart like I did.
If you’re interested in helping Texans recover from the devastation of Hurricane Harvey, the Texas Tribune did a great article about local efforts on the ground to help people. Some of it is outdated since the weather event is over, but they’ve been updating it if they hear anything new. The Mayor of Houston created the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund that people can donate to. Lastly, JJ Watt has a relief fund that is over $19 million as I write this.
Hope everyone has a great Labor Day weekend,