after the storm: do what we can, when we can, every day.

I’ve been awake almost every night, ignited with the fear of tornado warning after tornado warning, listening for the constant sound of rain on the asphalt rooftop of my high and dry home. even though the storm is over, the anxiety is relentless. it is silent now.


watching the news at all, in any shape or form, is like lingering by a pool of vomit in your elementary school, waiting for the janitor to sprinkle the pink powder so the smell and sight isn’t so deafening. but the janitor never comes. it churns your stomach. your mind becomes frantic. and you look for a place to relieve your swirling energy. what could I do… today?


the rain was still pounding, yet I went to see my oldest sister, Karen Matthey, an essential employee at Methodist West Houston, who hadn’t been home in four days, earlier this week.  the trek is not far from my unflooded neighborhood; I passed branches and typical storm debris, yet was clear to drive. the oldest of us four, my science laden, dedicated, quiet-natured sister was assisting in c-sections and delivering babies amid the torrential whipping of harvey, yet was surviving on peanut butter and crackers and soup she brought from home. I brought what I could that day, as the rain was still falling; but I was astonished at the flock of nurses gathered at the computer, watching for signs of relief from the rain. devastated. famished. and water kept pouring in from the sky. my feet were cold from the rubber golashes tredding through the pavement puddles, yet we all did what we could, that day.


many stood in line at my local Randall’s, their carts full of what was left on the shelves; I spoke to a mother who couldn’t find milk for her baby, and was planning on mixing half and half creamer with water and old formula until she could make it out again. she lived in Kelliwood and was probably flooded out the next day. we stood in line for two hours, grateful the cashier could make it in, mentioning to the manager how thankful we were they were open. I felt humbled. by the time I left, elevated trucks with boats had arrived in the parking lot, looking for provisions as they plucked evacuees from the water. reality hits you hard, this storm was massive. and difficult to comprehend in its entirety. we all did what we could, that day.


the next day, as the rain turned to sputter, the sommelier and I gathered hot food from our own kitchen for the Methodist West Labor and Delivery Department, wrapping sausage rolls and making sandwiches, parting with parmesean rissoto and meatballs. this was the first time many had a hot meal in days, the doctors and nurses starving for protein. longing for regularity. we did what we could, that day.


we started to see amazing things on social media, stories of friends downtown who flocked together to help save the city. our carefree, liberal, philosophical friend Jonathan Honefenger started by rescuing his own parents, who live downstream from the barker reservoir, and were bound to heavily flood and were taking on water. he saved them, driving in the rain and through rising tides to pull his mother and his father and his childhood from the storm. he did what he could, that day.


later Honefenger, his ultimate persona, somehow organized a gang of volunteers to use donated busses and trucks to drive evacuees from safety in Memorial City, where a part of the highway collapsed under the weight of the rain. he inspired others through social media, and is a hero to many, especially those who waded through muddy waters and left everything behind; fear was replaced by love. he did what he could, that day. and the next day. and the next day.


another known all around amazing lady, rights advocate, and sommelier leader, Cat Nguyen, arranged for local farms to donate massive amounts of food, then she coordinated with local james beard nominated wine manager, Sean Beck, to begin bringing those who could work into Hugo Ortega and Tracy Vaught restaurants, so that those displaced by the relentless bastard of a storm could have a hot meal. they did what they could, that day. and the next day, and the next day.


we started to see friends like Beth Gustafson and Natalie Vaclavik donating a multitude of items to worthy causes, promoting others to start to gather blankets, pillows, and clothing for our fellow houstonians. my older sister Krista Schroen, fair and beautiful, tough yet delicate, began driving evacuees from rally points to Katy shelters in her large infiniti suv, often internalizing the overwhelming sadness and disarray of the situation, offering residents a glimmer of hope and alignment with the community. they did what they  could, that day. and the next day. and the next day.


as the storm raged on, we saw news stations began to tell harrowing stories of survival. my own brother in law, Bryan Matthey, an intellectually driven, caring, decisive man, pinpointed a plan to help save my own parents from their flooded home in an elevated jeep, and my cousin Brian Mozisek, and adventurous and true country texan, kayaked his way to save his relatives from rising tides. they did amazing things, and did what they could, that day. and the next day. and the next day.


we began hearing from expat houstonians, friends, co-workers, relatives- and on how they could help, what they could do- and people like Rosie Dilger helped my youngest sister, Emily Coalson, the creative, musically inclined, good hearted artist in San Francisco, to start a Go-Fund Me Campaign for direct charity relief efforts. they did what they could, from far away, that day. and the next day. and the next day.


now that the storm has dissipated, those of us who weathered the angry skies in fair condition, should try to do what we can, every day. there are many local shelters in which to
volunteer, serve food, sort donations, assist evacuees. we were spared by the creulity of this storm, and we must wake up, and walk through the numbness of our cold feet in golashes, and get out there.


we can all do what we can, when we can, every day.


we are #hoUSton. we are strong. we will rebuild. one day at a time. one community at a time.


this is our city, our home. let’s do this, y’all. together.


this is our city. this is our home.

i’ve done a lot of deep breathing these last few days… awoken with each splatter of rain on my newly minted windows, my head filled with catastrophic thoughts: imagined drowning and suffocating of my loved ones, my heart anxiously fearing rising waters and the worst of CNN coverage.

this is our city. this is our home.


images of residents in waist-deep waters, searching for help in any way possible, their loved ones piled onto air mattresses and kayaks and boats led by strangers. no one is safe. no one is lucky. we are all vulnerable.

this is our city. this is our home.


the feeling of numbness. it coincides with galoshes worn without socks, the cold rain on my skin; finding the one windbreaker in my closet that just might repel rain. it’s taking meals to those in need, making it to the grocery store, and making it home to the most beautiful girl in the world. it means being the mother I’m meant to be- and distracting her from the misery. the horror of it all.

this is our city. this is our home.


knowing my mother, actually coined most beautiful (circa 1966), and my valedictorian, army major, DOD retiree father were out there, alone. being rescued by humvee and boat and dump truck- yes you read that right- dump truck- at a fragile age- has brought me to my knees. they are safe now.

this is our city? this can’t be our home.


my cousin kayaked his way through the flooded waters to rescue his extended family. our own friends drove through flooded strets to rescue their trapped parents, their dogs, and their childhood.

what city is this?


my heart tries not to feel the ache for all who are suffering. we have lost too much to bear witness. the pain is excruciating.


but we will move on. we will be strong. after all, this is our city. this is our home.


and there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.



#houstonflood #hurricaneharvey #ilovemycity