The news is full of the suffering of people in Texas and film of people wading waist deep in water. Understandable that people back in the UK worry about us out here in Austin Texas only 2 hours drive from the ongoing horrors of Houston. My phone bings with imessages, whatsapp, Facebook notifications and FaceTime requests. I am touched by the concern and try to reassure.
Actually we escaped very lightly in Austin. Strong winds and 8 inches or rain not really not much worse than a bad storm. In fact better than some. No real lightning here.
The shops sold out of bottled water, the kids got to start school two hours later and low water crossings closed all over town. At one point the hurricane was headed straight for us and we were all braced for the full force of 100 mile an hour winds and 2 foot of rain. But it never came. Harvey stopped south east of us became a tropical storm and sat dumping water on Houston instead.
In Austin it was really no worse than a very wet Welsh weekend flooding the bridge in Crickhowell but not takng anyones life.
So as I said we got off lightly.
The most difficult part now is that panic buying has emptied the gas (petrol) stations. Many gas stations are now empty. People queue for hours at those that have gas. Moreover, in some places, the gas that is on sale is now $1.50 a gallon more than it was a week ago.
Houston however is a different story and it does feel shocking and overwhelming to have all that destruction and suffering so close. Many of the kids friends have family there. Most of them have holidayed along that coast.
Our first weekend here we drove to Houston to pick up my husbands truck and I was daunted by the shear unexpected size of the place. Houston is the fourth most populous city in the nation (trailing only New York, Los Angeles and Chicago), and is the largest in the southern U.S. and Texas. The Houston CMSA covers 8,778 square miles, an area slightly smaller than Massachusetts but larger than New Jersey.
Across US the hurricane is still everywhere you turn here from the supermarkets to Americas Got Talent. It does bring out particular kind of American grit. That pioneer metality that celebrates the missing dog who turned up carrying a large bag of dog food in his mouth.
There was and is much bravery and resourcefulness people using Facebook and their own boats to go out and save people. Furniture stores throwing open their showrooms for people to stay in.
The dark side of America is also showing. The greedy capitalism that allowed dangerous chemical plants to be sited next to residential areas without telling anyone what was in them. The city looting that has caused the mayor to issue a curfew
But as for me, my life has changed very little. This afternoon it was blazing sunshine, 34 degrees and instead of swimming for my life like they were in Houston, I swam in the pool to cool down.