I'm that rare(ish) creature: a 5th-generation Houstonian. When I went to college in California, my assurances I'd rather live in a place that gets hurricanes than a place that gets earthquakes was met with disbelief. (And soon, along came the 1989 Loma Prieta quake - you may know it as the World Series Earthquake - to test my theory. I stand by my original statement.) (Go, Banana Slugs!)
So long before this summer, I'd lived through evacuation traffic snarls, and days without power, and 2 a.m. wind that ripped a branch off an oak tree and plunged it through my bedroom roof, and rising water, and the eerie silence of the eye passing overhead after hours of being on the dirty side of the storm.
In a thousand small and a dozen large ways, Harvey wasn't the worst hurricane I've been through. We never lost power. Our water sources stayed clean. Our cars never risked flooding. The roof is as intact as ever. And though we watched the bayou 400 steps from our door rise and rise and rise until it was 4 steps from our door, we stayed dry.
But, oh, what a mess. The water flowed like a river down the cross streets, fish leapt about in the five feet of water where we usually parked, and mainly, as we texted and called and checked in and watched the news and generally worried about our friends and loved ones across the city and region, we knew this - this was going to be an ongoing mess.
My son's senior year is delayed by two weeks; teachers across the city are scrambling to get supplies for their flooded-out students and adjust lesson plans to account for lost time and storm-shaken kids. Still-flooded roads cause mind-boggling jams as drivers seek north-south corridors that their phones don't tell them are closed or dead-ends. Sidewalks teem with sheetrock and carpet and molding debris while the city attempts to deploy enough waste management to handle it all. People who have met with their insurance agents and can't do much until FEMA and local contractors are available are signing up to serve food or move boxes or fill out forms at the shelters.
It's obvious, I think, that I adore my city. I set so many books here because I love the diverse community, the international cuisine, the vibrant culture. I'm proud of how welcoming and big-hearted and accepting a place it can be. It has taken a hit - a big hit - from Harvey, but I know it will recover, in time.
A group of my fellow romance authors have pledged to help Houston with the relief efforts. Each author has chosen a cause or two and is donating royalties from their book sales during the Sept 4-17 period. I picked Interfaith Ministries Greater Houston and the Houston Food Bank, two local charities I volunteer with, which do great work feeding Houston's seniors, refugees, and children, and which have dedicated resources specifically to helping Harvey victims. I'm not the biggest selling author out there (yet!), so to increase the impact of my donation, I'm dividing the proceeds from all my September through December 2017 sales between these two charities.
Please check out the Authors Helping Houston page, and my chosen charities, and thank you to everyone who has reached out to me in the wake of this hurricane. The world is a scary place, but your love and support of us, and of the Gulf Coast region, brightens us all.