Water? Stores were already out, but we have plenty-ish. Food? Mostly perishables. Planning for a power outage increases the likely hood of one occurring — everyone knows that. Gas? Check. Most of my life is guided by blissful ignorance, blind luck and a healthy dose of apathy. Why should Harvey get special treatment?
DAY ONE — FRIDAY
On Friday, we evacuate — work that is. All the animals in the pet hotel are being sent home as dictated in our hurricane preparedness plan. By the end of the day only a few pets are to remain, including a live-in “house” dog named Sam. The others are to be picked up tomorrow per owners’ requests. My phone stays on the LOUD setting and periodically leads me into a corner to not-so-secretly check my texts to see if my husband’s flight is on schedule. He’s set to fly in tonight. At the same time, an old friend from Virginia messages me constant updates about how bad Harvey will be. My anxiety starts to bring down the vibe of the kennel, so I’m sent home early.
My dad offers, or more so demands, he takes me to the airport, so I won’t get stuck in the rain alone. I get a full tank of gas for free out of the deal, I don’t have to drive and my husband makes it home fine, so I’m happy.
DAY TWO — SATURDAY
Imagine a sad montage of someone walking around a dark, empty kennel for about an hour, going to Target because it’s the only thing open and then going home to play “Clue” with a co-worker. Throw in shots of boxed vodka and a flooded apartment courtyard and that was my Saturday.
DAY THREE — SUNDAY
Admittedly a little hungover, my co-worker and I go to work to walk and feed Sam. We stay for an hour then leave with plans to return in the afternoon to walk him again. My co-worker takes off to walk her mom’s dog and ended up stranded in Pearland when the water rises. I, now without a key to the building, try and fail to contact anyone else who has one. I don’t know if they are ignoring me or just too hungover from our boss’s Mayweather v. McGregor party, but I’m bitter about it.
The storm is getting worse, and I realize that if it continues no one will be able to get to Sam even if the facility itself isn’t a risk for flooding. I message everyone again looking for someone with a key. This leads me to another co-worker who is already flooded in. After some cajoling from me and wading through some mid-thigh high water from him, I get a key and am able to go rescue Sam.
Now Sam, or “the man” as he is known in some circles, is an owner-surrendered dog. Legend has it; he was surrendered as a puppy sometime around Hurricane Ike due to his owners not wanting to foot the bill for his lengthy list of medical problems. No two people have the same story of how he came to live at the hotel. I’ve asked everyone at work and came up with more questions than answers, but regular customers refer to him as “the hurricane dog.” The legend grows.
DAY FOUR — MONDAY
“We know it’s telling us something is coming…we just aren’t sure what it is,” apartment management says. Alarms are blaring, lights flashing and the doorbell ringing. I drag both dogs into the bathtub on the verge of a panic attack and . . . and . . . nothing. My husband goes to investigate and comes back with the official word, “We just aren’t sure.” This happened on and off the rest of the day — alarms blaring, me dragging two dogs into the bathtub, my husband investigating. “We just aren’t sure.”
At this point, the areas we usually walk our dog have been taken over by floodwater. While the dogs usually get along at work, Artemis is a hyperactive puppy and Sam is a lazy, grumpy old man. Other than snapping at Artemis every time she tried to play, Sam was surprisingly on his best behavior. This is a dog that once stole a toy from another dog and, once I caught him and returned it, peed in front of the other dog’s kennel door in protest.
That night we walk the dogs in the covered parking area due to the heavy rain and winds. Both dogs refuse to poop in the rain. I have a high fever by the time I go to sleep.
DAY FIVE — TUESDAY
The floodwater has gone down in the night, and the pet hotel is reopening for single-person shifts. I cough up a little blood and turn down a shift at work. I don’t go to the hospital unless my mother forces me, and I don’t live with her anymore, so I make due with off-brand cold medicine.
Sam is forced to put up with me for a few more days since I’m unable to make it to work. With UHCL closed until after Labor Day, all I have to do for the next few days is wallow in my illness on the floor since the dogs have taken over the couch.
Everything is back to normal except my sinuses. I return to work on Saturday, bringing Sam with me. He’s relatively excited to be home, but he still follows me around whenever he can. My second floor apartment stayed dry while first floor apartments suffered manageable flooding. Apartment management quickly started replacing carpets but for the most part no furniture was lost. The parking lot has an incline so the cars stayed safe.
Harvey hit me right in the finances. I was out of work for six or seven days during Harvey, and then, from the cold I got walking around the floodwater, my paycheck came out to $80.52. A parking pass at UHCL is $85 – ignoring the cost of food, rent, electric, Internet and other nonessentials of course. If I’m being honest, I’m probably not going to prepare any better next time.