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When islands vanished and people became one

3 8 30
12.09.2017

It was a race against time when my husband, daughter and I loaded our car with boxes as news of the impending Hurricane Harvey began to flash in all media. We had travelled to Houston from Singapore to help our daughter move to her off-campus apartment at the University of Texas, Austin, located 265km from Houston.

What we thought would be a leisurely three-hour drive had now become an urgent evacuation because all predictions pointed to an extremely damaging event and it was simply not advisable to be on the road when the hurricane made landfall. The city of Austin, being farther inland and at higher elevation, wasn't expected to be as severely impacted by the hurricane as Houston, which stood barely a few metres above sea level.

On the previous evening, when my daughter and I made our way to H-E-B, the local supermarket, we had seen the longest snaking lines ever at the cashiers, with people's shopping carts full of bottled water, food, batteries and miscellaneous items that I examined closely just to be sure I had not overlooked anything essential. I ended up buying items of food that I rarely eat!

We made it to Austin on time and went about setting up our daughter's apartment in the lashing rain, which stopped after a couple of days. But what we saw unfolding in Houston and coastal Texan cities on our TV set and mobile phones was a disaster that seemed straight out of documentaries on climate change, even though the hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm. It was a strange........

© The Straits Times