The next few days become a blur. Patients—upwards of 80 to 90 a day—visited our MMU (see Figure 3). We had three physicians, dozens of nurses, paramedics, and other support staff who did everything from making sure we had supplies to see patients, to making sure generators were full of fuel. The complaints were typical for any emergency department: heavy on wounds, medication refills, and chest pain in those who were not used to working so hard. The difference was the story. I have always enjoyed hearing patients’ stories, and those in the path of Harvey had stories to tell.
One grandfather in a hat (see Figure 4): “I wear it everywhere. My daughter gave it to me 11 years ago when she had her daughter. We got lucky: We left, came back, nothing out of place. The neighbor’s house is gone. Strange how that happens. I really just need a tetanus shot. I have cuts everywhere.”
Meet Shirley (see Figure 5) and her owner: “I’ve had her four months, and she was two months old when I got her. She is full of piss and vinegar. She took the storm better than I did. We didn’t have much, but we still have each other. I ran out of my medications. Can you do a refill? I have the empty bottles….”
And a man who evacuated and returned to destruction (see Figure 6): “They said it was going to be a cat 1, so we just left. I wanted to get my girls to safety, and my mom … she’s dying. She wanted to die at home. When they said it was going to be a cat 3, I wanted to go back and board the windows, but my wife wouldn’t let me. Her room is destroyed, the rest of the house is a wreck. She’s stuck in Austin now. This shirt is about all I have. My friends called me Stewie.”
I took a brief break and ventured into some of the areas hit hardest by the eyewall. Like most, I’ve seen thousands of pictures of natural destruction, but nothing equates to seeing this in real life. I love to see the humor people can express when they have lost so much (see Figures 7 and 8).