A Climate Stories Project story from Sabina Garibovic, a junior at Colby College in Maine, and originally from Houston, Texas. Sabina describes the changes due to global warming she's noted in her hometown, including Hurricane Harvey:
My name is Sabina, I’m a rising junior at Colby College, I’m from Houston, Texas, and this is my Climate Story.
Living in Houston, the summers have always been sunny and humid with our proximity to the coast and position in the south. There would be rainy days scattered throughout until September, but unless we had years with many hurricanes, the weather was often sunny and enjoyable. This is how the summertime when I was growing up, with many people spending every day under the sun - I would spend many weekends with my family going to the beach or going fishing. But in the recent years, there have been progressively fewer sunny days, and most of the time, it’s just really muggy with an overcast, and sometimes gross, hazy sky. Truly sunny days are a rarity, and the ones that do come around are so unbearably hot, you can’t be outside for more than an hour. Many have resorted to killing the days inside, hiding from either the scorching sun or scattered rain.
Beyond the dramatic heat of the last decade, there have also been more storms than in the past. Hurricane season sets in around June, and lasts until September or so. As the summer progresses, tropical storms and little hurricanes crop up here-and-there, but seldom have they been drastic. Only once every decade or so was there usually one big hurricane that would flood some coastal towns and parts of the city, but rarely was there truly irreparable damage. This is the way it’s been for a century or more, only until recently. The earth is getting hotter and the storms are getting worse.
In 2017, my city got devastated by Hurricane Harvey, a storm so monumental and destructive that hundreds of homes were flooded to the roof, and countless businesses had to be closed for good. I have many friends and family who spent innumerable weekends tearing down walls and ripping up floors of both their own and friends’ ruined houses. I spent days at my cousin’s house near the coast putting up new drywall and shopping for new bedding and clothes. Everything they’d had was gone, washed away.
This hurricane was so massive that it was dubbed as a rare once-every-500-years storm. That’s what it’s supposed to be, except that scientists have predicted that storms of this magnitude will be much more frequent than that, up to once every few years with this hotter, wilder climate. I’ve experienced heartache and shock as a direct result of Harvey, and it took over a year for my city to fully recover. People were struck with fear, and we’ve learned to respect these hurricanes and live more minimally than in the past, in case all your belongings get flooded or you have to leave home for good. This year, they’ve predicted similar storm conditions for late summer. Many of my relatives near the water have already made arrangements with my family and other relatives in town to stay with us once hurricanes start popping up; no one can afford to take chances anymore, and with the passing time and worsening weather, it seems like soon there won’t be an option to.