Sitting in front of the temporary shelter in Smithville on Sunday, evacuees watched rain patter across the parking lot and speculated about which roads had been closed and reopened. Some of them had been through floods before.
‘This ain’t my first flood, but this is my worse flood. I’ll tell you what,” chuckled Floyd Henderson, one of 76 evacuees saying at the Smithville Recreation Center on Sunday.
Henderson evacuated with his family around 1 a.m. Sunday morning, after a field next door flooded, sending water into his home.
“When I was alerted, the water was pretty much getting up there, so I had to get my girls and get out,” he said.
While Henderson was caught by surprise, many of the other evacuees said they had expected the disaster; after all, this area is part of what’s called Flood Alley due to the frequency and severity of flooding. In a 12-month span from 2015 to 2016, Bastrop County was hit by four severe floods.
Given that history, the warnings that preceded Hurricane Harvey's landfall convinced some residents to err on the side of caution.
“I took off [for the shelter] two days ago,” Rick Coleman said, taking a long drag from a cigarette. He said he used to stay home when floods happened. Not anymore.
“I just don’t want to die yet in something as silly as a flood,” he said. “One thing I have with age is wisdom, so I’m trying to use a little bit of it.”
When asked if multiple floods made him want to move, Smithville resident Bradley Miller said moving wasn't "really an option.”
The familiarity with floods can also breed a level of comfort that borders on the surreal.
As the Colorado River jumped its banks in a city park a couple miles from the shelter, Mark Buentello reeled in two big catfish. He had come out here when he realized the river would flood.
“I’m sorry to say, but it’s the best time to catfish, so," he said. "Trying to make the best of a bad situation is what I’m doing."