Texas-Sized Rain: My memory of 1994’s Texas flood

Sunday, October 16, 1994.

It was the weekend of the Conroe Cajun Catfish Festival. My wife and I walked around downtown Conroe, Texas wondering if it was going to rain the festival out. The remnants of Pacific Hurricane Rosa had crossed Mexico and was heading toward Houston, Texas. Copious amounts of rain was predicted.

We had no idea about what was about to hit us.

Our new home sat on a small bluff near the San Jacinto River. The land had not flooded during the 1973 flood of record — so we knew we’d be safe. And as a bonus, we did not have to buy flood insurance. Sure, part of the neighborhood had flooded back then and there was a flood plain behind us. But what were the odds? As the rain began to fall, we went to bed not worried at all.

I remember the sound of how hard the rain came down. I’ve slept through a tornado and a police raid (don’t ask) but the beating on the roof woke me up. Dawn had revealed a disaster in the making. My neighbors and I went to go check the road out of our neighborhood. Water covered it — We were flooded in. And the small creek that ran behind our house gave us even more ominous news.

It was flowing backwards.

The San Jacinto was rising.

Upstream was Lake Conroe, a lake very similar to the Reservoir. Later that morning, as the rain continued to pound us, there was fear that the dam would fail. Flood gates were thrown open. The river went from three to 33 feet in less than six hours. Evacuations had begun.

We left about five that afternoon. We put our belongings on shelves and on bricks and left our cars and home behind. Amy had our dog in her arms. I had our cat in a carrier. In the hour that it took us to get to the school bus, it rained five inches.

Our wet cat meowed miserably. I felt his pain.

The storm wasn’t moving and ended up dropping over 25 inches of rain on the area in less than two days. The river claimed homes all around us. We got out because we could take our pets. They told us that if we had to rescue us by boat, they wouldn’t have allowed us to bring them. That evening, we ended up in a church. Then my boss Chris Eddings and his family took us in until the water went down a few days later.

I remember the smell. My neighbors having to gut their homes. The fire ant balls floating in the flood waters. The dead animals floating by. I remember the snakes in my yard. I mourned as a body of an elderly man was found behind my house. I hated the sound of rain for years.

The water came a couple of feet from our home. We were blessed. But today, we live on a hill above the dam. We learned our lesson and also the lesson taught by the Jackson Easter Flood of 1979. If we flood, an ark will be sailing through our neighborhood.

As I sit here this morning watching Hurricane Harvey head toward Texas, I pray for my friends there. It is supposed to stall and once again douse Southeast Texas with copious amounts of rain. Memories are flooding back to me and I’m getting a knot in my stomach.

God bless Texas. They are going to need all the help they can get.

About Marshall Ramsey