Monday, June 1, 2015

Counting My Blessings

On Friday morning, I was running late for work as usual. As I got into my car, I started to calculate a faster route. Luckily, all the traffic lights were being really nice to me and I was doing pretty good on time. That was until I hit Loop 12!

The night before that weather had gotten pretty bad. It was thundering louder than I had ever heard before and the winds seems so strong that I almost feared that one of our windows were going to break. As loud and scary as it got, Chirag and I still felt pretty safe in the house and didn't have much problem falling asleep. We are both pretty easy sleepers. Needless to say, the next morning I noticed that my hydrangea plant and mini rose bush didn't make it out alive. :( I guess I should have known better and turned on the radio or t.v. before leaving the house, but apparently many people just like me didn't either. 

Right about 6:40 a.m., I found myself pretty much in stand still traffic all of a sudden on Loop 12. I had also just past a sign that said Loop 12 under water. But now I was on a bridge and the only option was to take the next exit and find an alternative route. Or so I thought... 

I remember checking my phone a little before 7:00 a.m. and google maps informed me that I should be able to make it to work in 1 hr and 29 mins!! So, I texted my boss and let her know about the situation. She was very understanding and I figured there was not much else I could do. So, I just tried to stay calm and used my phone to kill some time. I was using facebook, instagram, watching you tube videos, pinteresting... you know the usual stuff. So I was killing time pretty well and just like a little kid, since I was occupied with my phone, I really wasn't all that cranky (yet!). 

We had barely moved at all! I finally called Chirag around 8:15 a.m. and told him about what was going on. He also started to look up some alternate routes for me. At that time, we still thought that the previous exit was open and that would be my best shot out. My iphone battery was starting to run low and now I was starting to panic because I didn't have my car charger! 

You know when you put off doing something super simple until the very last minute and then realize that it's a little too late? That's exactly what I had done... I had been meaning to buy an iphone charger for my car for months and I just kept putting it off!! Luckily though, I sometimes grab my regular charger to use it while at work, so I had that in my bag. But where was going to charge my phone with that? I dimmed the light on my phone, kept in airplane mode for some time, and turned off my car tried to conserve some gas.

Now it was about 9-ish. Still, pretty much in the same spot.  I called my boss again because at this point, it seemed like I may not get to work until closer to 12 and it didn't make sense for me to go in for 3 and 1/2 hours. When I called her, she was stuck in the same traffic but further than me. Lucky for her, she was able to turn around and get on a different interstate to still get to work. I however, was right up front and on this bridge, so there was no out for me. She was very understanding and just told me to make home safely. 

Right around that time, I turned off my car and got out. Many people had been walking on the highway, trying to figure out what was going on. I was able to learn that the next exit was closed as well!! Now, what?! Apparently just 1 & 1/2 mile up it was all flooded and there was no way to go back with all the traffic and unable to cross the median. A little bit of panic was setting in now. 

In order to calm myself down a bit, I started to make a plan in my head and count my blessings. Here's my list:

  • Phone - I still had a little less than 50% of battery left! I also found a portable charger in my glove compartment, plus the regular charger. So at least no matter where I was, I would be able to get in touch with my family.
  • Food - As I was running late this morning, I still made it a point to quickly grab some coffee, a waffle for breakfast, plus a frozen meal, yogurt, and apple for lunch. That's a lot of food to hold me over for today.
  • Umbrella - I had also remembered to grab my umbrella this morning. So at least if the weather got bad or I had to walk to shelter I would be covered.
  • Clothes - I had pretty comfortable clothes, plus a cardigan cause I'm always cold. I was going to wear flats to work, but I ended up wearing my kitten heels, which weren't as bad as wearing high heels for sure. 
  • I'm not alone - At least I wasn't stuck in this crazy situation by myself. There were hundreds of people stuck on this freeway and so I knew that the city would be trying to do whatever it can to help us. 
  • Positive thinking - The weather was still behaving... it was gloomy, but hadn't started to pour yet. That would have just made the situation worse. Plus, this was an excuse out of work. Who doesn't love a day off? Granted, I much rather be relaxing at home or out shopping... but I was just trying think positively. 
As soon as I started to count my blessings, things actually slowly started to turn around for me.

I made friends with Krystal, who was a school teacher trying to make it to work that day. I also met another Asian lady, who was trying to walk her way to the nearest gas station to use the restroom after being in her car for 4 hours. All three of us found a way to get our car off to the shoulder and grabbed the essentials from our car and walked to the nearest gas station. 

As we walked down the ramp of the exit to the gas station, I saw people who had just abandoned their cars or were sitting on top of their cars or walking around trying to figure a way out. As I looked onto the other side of the exit, it was completely flooded!! I saw a police car 3/4 of the way under water. It was crazy to be so close to all the flooding everyone had been talking about. The gas station was packed with people trying to buy food and use the restrooms. I was able to find an outlet and charged my phone up again. I called Chirag and there was really no way he could come get me. All the roads leading up to this area were jammed packed with cars. So, I started to think that at least I have shelter here and all my essentials. 

After some time, I walked back to my car. I was Krystal standing outside just looking at other SUVs trying to cross the muddy median across to the other side. A few cars did escape, but there were also a few that got stuck in the mud. I was too scared to try this in my car and so was Krystal. So we decided to just watch and wait it out with many others. 

A few minutes later, one of Krystal's co-worker's had slowly made her way up to the area were some of these SUVs were able to escape. She had a big white F-150 and she gave it go! Within a few seconds we saw her cross over to the other side! Krystal quickly gave her a call to see if she could hitch a ride to work with her. I was a little hesitant at first, but asked if she would be willing to take me as far as she could and maybe Chirag would be able to pick me up from there. I was very scared to leave my car, but after almost 4 and 1/2 hours and no resolution in site... this was my best bet. 

A quick selfie

Both these ladies were really sweet! They dropped me off at a store fairly close to uptown. Chirag was suppose to pick me up, but luckily my friend, Vivek, was working from home and lived only 10 minutes away. He picked me and I chilled with him at his place until the evening. 

I felt so relieved!!! I thought I was going to be on Loop 12 all day and all night, the way things were looking. We watched the news at V's place and it was crazy to see that I was right upfront near all the water. Around noon, the city was able to bring a crane and remove the median between the interstate and many people were able to escape. But the traffic was still very bad and we weren't able to get my car until 10 p.m.

We actually had to find a way to get as close to my car as possible and then had to walk to it on the interstate. At this point, majority of people had already gotten their cars and the highway was quiet empty. It was hard to believe that just a few hours ago people had abandoned their cars in the middle of the interstate and feared that they would be stuck here all day! 

When we finally got to my car I was so happy!! Luckily, it hadn't rained otherwise the flooding may have gotten high enough to get my car. The only way out was to drive in the opposite direction on the road to get to the next exit. They have shut down parts of the freeway for 7 days. One of the construction workers helped escort us there and we finally got home around 11 p.m.

What a day, I tell you?! Fifteen crazy hours... but I did learn a lot from my experience. 
  • Don't put off something you can get done today. I finally have a car charger for my phone now.
  • Even if you are running late for work, be sure to grab some breakfast! You never know where your day will take you.
  • Stick in a group with some people you feel comfortable with. I'm so glad I met Krystal.
  • Count your blessing when you find yourself in a difficult situation. It could be a LOT worse.

What I went through was nothing compared to hundreds of people that lost their homes and are in a lot worse situation that me. It's so sad to hear terrible reports of people still missing! This has really been a devastating week for so many people in Texas. Everyone and their families affected by these flash floods in my thoughts and prayers. I truly can not complain about my day, but rather continue to count my blessings.

Have you counted your blessings today?


  1. Glad you are ok. I can't even imagine what you (and all the others) were feeling. Thank goodness for the kindness of total strangers.

    And great reminder to count our blessings - definitely helps keep things in perspective.

    1. Thanks, Parita! And yes... it's easy to take the little things for granted... counting my blessings today with the sunny weather... finally!!

  2. Oh girl! I've been following the news in Texas somewhat, but didn't realize those floods had really affected so many people (and at varying levels, your situation to much worse!) I don't even know what I would have done in that situation. Probably full-on panicked and been really pissed. Good for you for using that time to be productive. And I like to think, every experience, is an experience. So yes it was crazy, but you met some people you would have never met otherwise!! Glad you're ok.

    ♥ perfectly Priya