How the Switch Helped Me Through Hurricane Harvey

Water bottles…check. Canned food…check. Gas cans, battery packs, and a weather radio…check. Nintendo Switch…check!

Hi, I’m Travis and I survived the onslaught of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey. I live in Southeast Texas, outside of Houston, where it rained between 52 to 60+ inches during Harvey’s visit to our fine area. Nearly 3 feet of that was overnight. I saw the water rise and move over acres of land on my own property. This water then created a current that ran around (but, thank God, not through) my house. I took calls from family members, students, and friends as their homes began to fill with multiple feet of water. I have witnessed streets and communities that have never flooded turn into lakes and rivers. And I still have to weave through neighborhood streets that had their innards torn out to save homes from the vile mold which permeates the air. It still burns through my nostrils. The last few weeks have been tough on everyone around but thankfully we all have our little distractions to ease us in this trying time. My distraction has been the only console you can carry around during a hurricane from start to finish. I’m of course talking about the Nintendo Switch.

The great thing about the system, first off, is the fact that when the lights are flickering on and off you can actually keep playing your game. Sure, there might be random things flying against your windows and the occasional (read “constant”) tornado warnings badgering your eardrums – but that doesn’t matter when you need to get to the next battle in Mario + Rabbids. There is plenty of video online showing Nintendo made a product that will survive a 1000 ft drop relatively unscathed. So, if you do get hit by a tornado then you probably won’t have to worry about the Switch receiving too much damage.

This is a shot of what I was sharing with family members an acre away when the water began moving between us and surrounding both houses. By 3am the water was well beyond the “shallow” area. Everyone was safe, thankfully.


When the lights do go out – and they will – you can use the system to charge anything with a USB type C cable input. So think of that Switch as an emergency battery pack for your laptop and cell phone until you get to a safer place. You’ll realize how useful this is when somebody on Facebook warns you that the local alligator sanctuary is about to flood above the fence releasing 350 of those overly-friendly and toothy fellas. It’s important to stay connected, even when you don’t know how much of the information is true.


Once you find out that your electricity won’t be on for a couple weeks you break out the generator. Once your generator that was purchased in 2005 during Hurricane Rita finally kicks the bucket it’s time to hit the road for awhile. You can squeeze the last bit of life out of the Switch battery to help charge your phone when you check to see if the rivers have gone down enough to get the heck out of there. You technically could charge it up in the car, but don’t use up too much of that sweet, sweet gasoline: there might not be any available for a 100 mile radius. If you are lucky, as I was, you will find out that there is only a half mile of water to drive through – which is totally doable in a truck! Break out that Switch car charger and throw the system on the top of your dash just in case water gets on your floorboards. You might need the battery life later. Heck, the family members or neighbors tagging along with you might want to play a game to calm their nerves while you carefully follow the yellow lines of the road through the murky waters. 


This is far more nerve-wracking than the picture appears.


Congratulations! You made it to your destination 200 miles away! This strangely begins to feel like Oregon Trail to you but no time for that. You now have to figure out where to home over a dozen people that you caravanned with for safety. It’s either stay in a hotel (an expense that may or may not get reimbursed by FEMA), stay with relatives, or a shelter. I personally opted to stay with relatives in a mildly spider-infested pool house that they made into somewhat of an apartment. If you run into this situation, make sure to buy a little spider spray before you move in temporarily. The first night will feel a little bitey, but maybe you’ll find a golden skulltula.


Alas, I received no special powers. 


Once you get comfortable and stop checking Facebook every 10 seconds to share information with others or give updates on road conditions, you can break out the Switch again. If you are lucky then you might actually be able to tether your system. I found a great connection from T-Mobile allowed me to play Splatoon with no lag! There is nothing better than that first round of post-evacuation Splatoon 2 to make you feel like you are back to some normalcy.

The next thing you find out over the next few days is that family time becomes forced. So why not play some games? Break off that joycon, throw it (nicely) at a family member, and get to it. Not all of your family plays games? That’s cool, break out any of the Jackbox Party Pack games and you will have an instant game night with family that is easy to do. We had 3 different Switches on the road during the evacuation which made the nights pretty calm. It’s such a great diversion to have.

After the lights come back on, gas trucks start filling up stations, grocery stores start stocking their shelves, boats no longer launch down main street, and life gets back to some normalcy you can throw that Switch into your bag and head back home. All of your games are with you and you can always pick up where you were last, even if that was a couple hundred miles away. So if you ever have the unfortunate luck to be in the midst of a natural disaster, or in this case a 500-year flood, don’t forget the only console that makes sense to bring with you.



*While I am having some fun with this article, because humor is sometimes necessary when things are really bad, I want to be serious for a moment. I’d like to give a shout out to the Cajun Navy, countless local churches, local schools, local first responders, the army, and nearly every able-bodied citizen of Southeast Texas that helped out during this horrendous flood along with those that are still working. You all are true heroes and legends.

We keep Travis in a cage, mostly so he doesn't hurt himself.