Current Events

Not Trusting the Weather Is the New Normal, and That's Okay

The rain-wet streets of downtown Houston on Monday.
The rain-wet streets of downtown Houston on Monday. Photo by Cory Garcia
It was always going to rain again. We all knew that. We might not have thought about it in the days after Harvey, when the skies were blue and the temperatures were more pleasant than normal for the start of September, but it's something we all knew, logically at least. What none of us knew was that the first rain Houston would see after the worst flooding incident most of us had ever experienced was the boomer that rolled into town on Monday.

Maybe it didn't affect you, other than to make your drive home a little more miserable, but more than a few people on my timeline mentioned being uncomfortable with this level of storm so close to Harvey. As lights blinked out and water pooled in streets, it was hard not to let the mind drift back to the watery troubles of less than a month ago. Can you believe it's been only three and a half weeks since Harvey made landfall in Rockport? At least most of us finally know what day of the week it is again.

And so it rained and lightning flashed and thunder crashed and we all rushed to social media either to make jokes or to make sure everyone was okay. Maybe you flinched when you got the news of an “area flood advisory” or your blood ran just a tiny bit colder when you saw water starting to gather in a gutter. Maybe you sighed in exhaustion if your power went out. Maybe you frowned driving past mounds of debris now soaked in front of neighbors' and strangers' houses.

All perfectly natural and understandable responses, really. Mother Nature didn't ease us back into the joy of rain with this storm. It was just another reminder, as if we needed one, about how, just because we've developed computers and rockets and sliced bread, nature is going to do what it wants when it wants. We just have to live with that.

If you've not had a dream about rising water in the last few weeks, consider yourself lucky.

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And we will, of course. Humans adapt, even if it's not always in the most efficient ways. Maybe most of us will actually make hurricane kits next year at the start of the season. Maybe more people will sign up for flood insurance. Harvey seems like it might be that kind of transformative storm for many.

But those are maybes in the future. In the present, we're still looking at dark clouds with suspicion and maybe a hint of fear. And that's okay. For plenty of folks, that's going to be the new normal for a while, and that's nothing to be ashamed of.

For some, Harvey took everything. For others, Harvey was just an inconvenience. But if you've not had a dream about rising water in the past few weeks, consider yourself lucky because many of us have. It's a situation that's wormed its way into our brains and made a home, for now at least.

I'm not a mental-health professional, so I'm not here to talk triggers or PTSD. I'm just reminding you that if you need to take care of yourself, you should. When the rain finally stopped, Houston got to work making sure that people were fed and clothed and that the work that needed to be done on flooded homes got done. Now we need to make sure that we're looking out for the homes inside our heads as well. We're all in this together. The rain doesn't discriminate.

Need support in the wake of Harvey? The Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.
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Cory Garcia is a Contributing Editor for the Houston Press. He once won an award for his writing, but he doesn't like to brag about it. If you're reading this sentence, odds are good it's because he wrote a concert review you don't like or he wanted to talk pro wrestling.
Contact: Cory Garcia