Houston father: 'How am I supposed to get five small children up on my roof?'

Please, pray for Houston.

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Growing up in Kansas within Tornado Alley and living through the Sandy Super Storm in Halifax, Nova Scotia, would lead me to believe that we were prepared for Harvey. We are not.

We live at ground-zero in Houston and the meteorologist (live from Rosenberg, Texas, just down the street from where where road-762 has caved in) said moments ago this is a “once-in-500-year” situation. We are sheltering in place and as of Sunday afternoon we are being advised that two more feet of rain is possible because the storm system is not moving. Where we live in central Fort Bend County, 22 more inches are expected.

We have five children, including triplet boys aged 13 months. And, like thousands of other families across the Houston metroplex, we are experiencing apocalyptic and eerie feelings of unrest, which began on Thursday when gas stations ran out of fuel and grocery stores out of water.

The news anchors are discussing how “impossible” it is to evacuate 6 million people. Our 8-year-old Lily Faith is asking us to define “catastrophic,” “life-threating flooding” and “unprecedented crisis.”

Since Hurricane Harvey made landfall on Friday evening around 10 p.m. our family has been camped out in our master bedroom (two air mattresses and three pack-n-plays). Well, that is when we are not in the master closet at the inner-most part of our home during constantly extended Tornado Warnings in Fort Bend and Harris Counties. Turns out the Tornado Warnings make the same noise as the Amber Alerts on your cell phone, which creates a vicious cycle of waking up to worry and anxiety with our 8- and 5-year olds saying, “Daddy, I am scared… Why do the warnings keep sounding?  … Are we going to be okay, Daddy?”

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Yet, unlike Kansas, there are no tornado sirens near us, so there is little warning of an approaching tornado.

My wife, Audrey and I are in a constant state of monitoring the situation while trying to stay calm for our children.

We are devastated by the catastrophic events all around us.

Hundreds of thousands of homes are taking on water.

Rainfall in Harris County has exceeded 2001’s Tropical Storm Allison in almost half the time.

If our home floods, the public is being advised that we are not to go into our attics but rather wait on the roof for rescue.

How on earth would we get five children on our roof (three of them babies) if it comes to that?

My wife and I have had to work through scenarios of who would grab which baby while directing our older two children to stay in a safe place. 

If you call 911 for rescue, do not hang up, they say, stay on hold because so many rescues are underway.

KHOU 11 went off the air as their station flooded. A remote uplink was live, but now unavailable.

The news crew is broadcasting from phones via Facebook.

As of late morning, there have been over 1,000 rescues across Houston. We are concerned we will run out of food and water as flooding is widespread around our beloved city.

A moat is essentially forming around our two-acre property as water is creeping closer to our home. There’s that Tornado Warning alert again. Hold on …

Okay, we are back. All schools are canceled this week, obviously.

Our reality is concern we will again lose power which sets off a chain of other negative factors.

If we lose power, our well ceases to operate and we have no water. We purchased 50 pounds of ice but wonder how long it will last in our Yeti/RTIC coolers.

Did we buy enough milk for our boys? We have some left-over formula.

We have a “go-bag” with diapers, formula, extra clothing, birth certificates and other documents but where would we go? With triplets we go through a minimum of 15 diapers per day.

We are also concerned about our beloved Houston Baptist University students. They are okay, thank God, and so far the dorms have no flooding.

So what can we do in this moment? We can pray. We can join with hundreds and thousands of others and asking God to help us. We can – like our church, Houston’s First Baptist (who is a strategic staging site for disaster relief volunteers for the North American Mission Board volunteers), and like so many other houses of worship – open facilities to those who are homeless.

Yet, if you are in Houston, like us, you might feel similar to the biblical character Gideon who, in view of all the tragedy around him, said, “Pardon me … but if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” (Judges 6:13). We serve the God of all comfort (2 Cor 1:3).

Only God can enable us to see our trials as temporary experiences, as awful as they may be, and as preparation for the exceeding joy and glory of His eternal presence.

The apostle Paul said that our present suffering is a “momentary, light affliction” that will last only a short time and that it prepares us for the glory of heaven (2 Cor. 4:17-18).

From his prison cell Paul wrote to the persecuted church at Philippi, admonishing it to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4).

Isaiah 26:3 reminds us: You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. (Isaiah 26:3).

There’s that Tornado Warning again. And the rain continues to pour.

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