Wednesday, September 24, 2008

back from Ike at last

Apparently, I just needed to leave town for power to be restored to my house. ;) After 10 days, the energy company finally got power to my street last night. I just got back from a day trip to Oklahoma, and it's nice to have air conditioning and internet again... and lights... and refrigeration.

Honestly, it wasn't that bad for me. I adapted to the lack of air conditioning pretty quick, and I was prepared with flashlights and non-perishable foods. I still had gas to boil eggs and cook sausages. Meat and bread have always been the core of my diet, but that's about all I was eating without electricity.

My relatives, friends, and I pulled through the hurricane alright. My side of Houston (northwest) got hit with 80+ winds, hard downdrafts, and tornadoes, so pretty much everyone had branches and trees to cut and clear. I lost a bradford pear tree in the backyard, among other things, but it fell against the fence. Four of my neighbors had trees leaning on or in their homes, and that was seen on almost every street in town. My sister in the Woodlands and her three immediate neighbors had eleven trees down, each at least two stories tall. A saving grace was that the winds tended to remain high, so they didn't toss around people and cars and such.

Needless to say, we were very blessed. The weather was a full 15 degrees below normal, and the humidity ridiculously low, for this time of year (we don't get seasons here... just summer and spatterings of cool weather from October through March). A friend of mine thought that was normal for hurricanes, but we had typical 90+ heat and 90%+ humidity after Hurricane Alicia in '83. It finally got back to 95 or so this Sunday, but it wasn't that bad if you had gotten your physical labor done before then. There's a lot more mosquitoes around right now, since the storm dropped over 12 inches of rain here in Spring.

I have a cul-de-sac across the street from me, and all of my neighbors met there each night for dinner while the power was out. At its peak, we had about 30 folks eating brisket, burgers, and whatever else had to be cooked before it went bad from lack of refridgeration. We even got a firepit out there and camped around the fire as we ate and chatted.

Of course, not everyone had it as good as us. A friend of a friend lost his 10-year-old son during the cleanup after the storm. He's a professional tree remover/trimmer, but as he was cutting a loose branch down in his own yard his son suddenly ran into harm's way. One of my neighbors tried to juggle funeral plans that happened to coincide with the hurricane. Others I know had significant damage to their homes (I just got a little water seeping in around the fireplace), but the boy is the only life I know was lost near me.

In all of Galveston, as in areas around Houston, street signs and stop signs are down. Considering that the homes there were also devastated, I can't imagine how the few residents allowed back into the city are finding their ways around. I had clean water and gas -- they didn't, and still don't. Those coastal cities were annihilated. You have to expect that sort of catastrophic damage from time to time if you live anywhere on the Gulf Coast, particularly on the barrier islands and deltas, but I still sympathize with all the folks who can't even go back to their home city yet. It's one thing for your home to be destroyed. Imagine your entire town being unrecognizable. Rita was worse for Mississippi, of course (there wasn't even debris left then), but Ike was pretty terrible.

There will be a lot of talk over the coming years, similar to the talk surrounding New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina, about how much help Galveston and the other coastal cities should be offered from the rest of the nation. Please keep in mind that there is no part of the country that is free from natural disasters. The Northeast suffers from terrible blizzards. The Midwest suffers from tornadoes much bigger and stronger than the ones we get here. The Southwest has droughts. California gets earthquakes and mudslides. Hawaii and the Northwest live under the shadow of volcanoes (they don't strike often, but they do blow; the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens was lucky as pyroclastic eruptions go). All of the West is under the threat of tsunamis. Also keep in mind that humankind has always built cities along the water. I'm not suggesting all this means Galveston must be rebuilt with federal tax dollars. I'm just saying this should be part of your consideration.

And even fools and idiots, like the shocking number of Galvestonians who chose to remain in the city during the hurricane -- in fact, especially fools and idiots -- should be treated with charity. A lot of people need your prayers and aid right now. Many of them don't deserve it, but please offer it to them anyway.

I'll get back to normal posting next week.


  1. It's good to hear you're ok, though many condolences to your neighbour and others who suffered.
    People can do amazing things together when they have to. Welcome back, and thanks for the update. We didn't see anything but a little rain in DFW, for which I am increasingly grateful the longer I live in this country of weather extremes.

  2. Man you must be glad to get home!

    It'll be good to have you back in the blogosphere!

    [sidenote: The Agency interview is being done as I type this - looks like we are having the questions answered by the lead designers!]


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