Hurricane Harvey has claimed eight lives so far, a number expected to rise. Bill and Paulette Rogers, who live in Port Aransas, Texas—on Mustang Island, just outside of Corpus Christi—are not among them, thanks, in part, to his truck, a white Ford F-250 Super Duty.
As written and reported by J. David McSwane, a data and enterprise reporter at The Dallas Morning News, the Rogerses’ story surviving the hurricane ranges from high drama to slapstick comedy, which McSwane captures in fantastic detail.
You should read the whole thing. It is, as a friend of the site put it, a master class in deadline writing, and a harrowing and brilliantly composed account of one family’s escape from disaster.
Here I give you two passages for a taste (I’ll also note that whoever wrote the headline—“‘This is the dumbest thing I’ve ever done,’ says man who rode out Harvey with wife, four dogs in a truck”—is no slouch either).
Here’s the first three grafs:
The walls had begun to contract, squeezed and yanked by the 130-mph winds of the punishing storm Bill and Paulette Rogers had foolishly underestimated.
With a resounding crack around 10 p.m., the two-story beach home shook. A tree tore through the upstairs bedroom. The frames and a wall clock came crashing down, and water surged in, fast, warm and deadly. It was then that Bill Rogers, 61, knew he had a made a mistake by staying home.
“Get the dogs,” he shouted. “Move it. We gotta go — now.”
In the middle we have this:
The water did not relent as the dark early morning wore on, and they sat, water to their shoulders, in the cab of a truck, now buoyant, bobbing with boats on the street. For moments at a time they gave in to exhaustion and slept.
“If you had to pee,” Paulette says, “you just peed.”
And now is the time when you should consider leaving this blog and reading it for yourself. It is damn fine journalism.
McSwane posted an epilogue after the story went up online. It’s fitting.
Harvey sux, indeed. But it couldn’t beat Bill and Paulette Rogers.