It was the strangest feeling to realize my home was in the path of a hurricane

I sat in my perfectly dry dorm room at 1 a.m. and saw a Snapchat update saying that people were being evacuated near the Barker and Addicks Reservoirs. This meant my family, and my childhood home were in danger. I was hesitant as I texted my parents because I didn’t want them to know I was up so late on a school night. They answered and I asked anxiously what their next move would be. The fear I felt waiting for their response was indescribable.

Hurricane Harvey officially hit land on Friday, August 25, but it didn’t hit my home until Sunday night. My dad called me saying that they were alright, but had lost electricity, and all the surrounding roads were closed.

The conditions ended up escalating and my family had to move everything up into my recently emptied bedroom before they evacuated to Austin. Once away from the house, the updates only worsened.

A text from my dad read, “Mom’s boss took his boat and got video of the house. Brace yourself. My parents sent pictures of the roads that I once drove on every day, the streets of our neighborhood that were my landmark after long days of school and eventually, the dreaded video from my mom’s boss.

The footage showed my childhood home in the middle of a murky lake of floodwater that used to be my front yard. My brothers’ basketball hoop was barely visible as it floated around our garage. I then saw pictures of water inside my house. This is what really hit me. I felt so much sadness seeing the home I grew up in soaking in two-three feet of water. Our stairs and furniture looked as if they weren’t supposed to be there, like they were intruders in a swamp.

Throughout this week I had seen pictures of victims, volunteers and damage that would be expected after any natural disaster. The difference was, that for the first time, I was in the same boat. I saw my city underwater and destroyed. I had to look at pictures of the roads that I had spent years traveling, turned into rivers and lakes of rain water. These images made me more homesick than ever before. I longed to not only go back to my city, but return to what I knew as home — my sunny, humid Houston. I also didn’t feel like I deserved to call myself a victim because my family and I were safe, but I experienced life-changing damage.

I was a victim.

This disaster couldn’t have come at a worse time than my first week away from my life, as I knew it. I felt extremely homesick and it made the second week of college significantly harder. Of all the challenges I expected with moving off to college, having my hometown go through an extreme flood was not what I had in mind. I put on a smile but deep down was worried and scared. Instead of calling my parents to tell them about my first week of school or that I did laundry by myself, I was calling to check on their safety and the remains of my home.

Hurricane Harvey forced me to put my life into perspective. I’ve been reminded that my family is more valuable than any material good. I know to take nothing for granted and appreciate everything around me.