A year after Hurricane Harvey: Parzen family end of summer letter

Saturday, August 25 marked the first anniversary of Hurricane Harvey.

But the impact of the catastrophe is still acutely felt in our city and in our community.

Our family was among the lucky ones whose houses didn’t flood. But not a day goes by that we don’t interact with Houstonians who haven’t been able to return home. Some of those still deeply affected are our neighbors, some have children who go our kids’ magnet school, some work in the Houston food and wine industry. Harvey touched everyone in our city, from the richest among us to the poorest.

Reading my posts from a year ago sent chills down my spine. I was living in New York during the September 11 tragedy; Los Angeles during the 1994 earthquake and the 1992 riots. Nothing has ever frightened me as much as Harvey, especially with two terrified young children who didn’t understand what was happening around us.

August 28, 2017 was the first day we emerged from our home, although it took a few more days before we could get off our block because there was severe flooding all around us.

You can sense the fear, confusion, and dread in my words.

I took that Weather Channel screenshot, above, on August 26 during the peak of the rainfall and flooding. It was a terrifying experience for all of us. And the worst was yet to come as people started to get sick from the toxic flood waters. I’ll never forget cutting my hand on a nail as I was helping neighbors muck up their homes. Their houses were filled with flood water that had been “fermenting” in the heat for days.

I didn’t get sick. I was one of the fortunate ones.

In other news…

Between a three-week trip to Italy where I was teaching and a two-week road trip to California and Arizona, the Parzen girls had an awesome summer.

Today was their first day back at school, a music magnet.

Lila Jane, age 5, was really excited about her first day of kindergarten and Georgia, 6, strutted into her new first grade class like a seasoned pro. (Tracie and I, on the other hand, were practically sobbing.)

Georgia will be continuing her Suzuki violin program and Lila Jane was accepted into the cello class (especially sweet for me because cello was my instrument as a kid).

Looking back on where we were a year ago today, we can only thank our lucky stars for the countless blessings in our life.

And speaking of blessings…

Parzen family has a new dog: Rusty, a rescue that was picked up back in April in Pasadena, Texas.

He might very well be a Harvey dog, one of the myriad pets that were separated from their owners in the aftermath of the flood.

We’ll never know his backstory. But he’s becoming less skittish every day and he’s an endless source of companionship and entertainment for our girls, who adore him.

We think he’s no older than four years. He’s still adjusting to being around people but he’s super sweet with everyone in the family. He loves to steal the girls’ stuffed animals and add them to his collection of pilfered socks and toys.

And after Tracie nearly lost it when we dropped the girls off at school this morning for their first day, I know she was glad to come home to another “baby” to take care of.

Happy end of summer everyone!

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