In September 2009, a historic storm dumped 20 inches of rain across north Georgia, flooding the basement of my four-bedroom Atlanta-area home and causing $41,000 in damage. On a hill in the highest part of my neighborhood, we didn’t have flood insurance.
Six years later and 850 miles away, it happened again. Another historic storm pummeled Houston with more than 10 inches of rain starting Monday night. When I woke up Tuesday, my Volvo was under water in the flooded garage and my apartment building was surrounded by the waters of overflowing Brays Bayou.
And this is how I spent my 42nd birthday, again part of a story I wanted no part of.
It could have been worse. At least three people died in the storm. The apartments, doggie daycare and synagogue across the street were heavily damaged. A rabbi had to be evacuated by boat. My family is safe. We can still live in our dry unit atop the two-floor garage and even watch cable. Only half the building is without power.
At the height of the flooding, the water was out and the building was reachable only by boat. The Houston Fire Department, inundated with rescue calls, was evacuating only those residents who needed urgent medical care. By the afternoon, the water in the apartment started running normally again and the bayou receded enough to enable residents to crawl through an opening and reach dry land.
In the midst of it all, well-wishers from all over the country, some of whom I don’t even know, sent me hopeful messages on Facebook and Twitter.
“That stinks, but I am glad you are safe,” one said.
“Please stay safe. Celebrate life,” another said.
And, in a reminder of another reason I’ll always think about this day, a third message said, “Oh no. Happy Birthday anyway.”