Sunday, September 12, 2010

Two Years Post-Ike

Two years ago tonight, Hurricane Ike ripped through this part of the world. Here is the post I wrote on September 15, 2008 - my first post after the storm.


BBQ Before MREs:

Well, we made it. No damage to the house, no damage to ourselves - we're still sort of in shock that everything's okay. We had low water pressure for 2 days but now it's back full force (not sure how drinkable, but works in the shower just fine). Still no power, but there are a surprising number of people around us with power so I don't think it will be too long.

No pictures for you - I am at work and my company has 2 words for someone who comes in the building with a camera: industrial spy. So although I've been taking pictures I can't post them until power is back on at the house. And yes, my company powered back up yesterday afternoon. I am eating a hot breakfast sandwich and drinking and icy Diet Coke from the company caf as I write this. The AC is below 60 as usual, and I'm pretty pleased to be here. God bless [insert name of large multi-national corporation here].

Back home all that left to deal with is the backyard, which looks like a swamp; the cool weather should dry things out today quite a bit. We did a lot of pick up Saturday, even during the morning rain. Everyone on the street was out by 10, working and comparing notes. No one's house was severly damaged - we live in big old brick houses for the most part, and they've survived Carla, Alicia and who knows what else. We had 2 huge trees down on our block - one blocked the street and another trapped neighbors in their house. Husband and our next-door neighbor took charge of the first one; between an attorney and an anesthesiologist it was the most expensive tree removal in the history of man. The second one was a huge effort, and our next-door neighbor was again in the thick of it with his farm truck, hauling huge pieces of tree around and generally enjoying himself much more than any man should. Our block has pulled together these past few days, and when we're not working we're in each other's front yards, kids and dogs playing around us as we gossip. At night Husband and I put the boys to bed in the living room and take the radio out on the porch for some air. We listen a little, but spend more time turning it off to talk to one another. Hey, life without TV and computers wasn't half bad.

As for the storm itself: wow. We spend Friday getting things ready, and I've never had a longer day. We had a normal dinner to calm everyone's nerves, and then watched hurricane coverage until 11pm or so to wire ourselves back up. I cleared out the hall closet under the stairs for the boys, and they fell asleep in there around 10. Husband and I curled up with blankets in front of the open closet door, and then the hurricane that most closely resembled a long car trip began. Lambchop was scared and wanted to sleep on us. One stuck his feet in my ear 30 or 40 times. The boys woke up several times and started fighting about who was on who's side of the closet. My ear was buffeted a little more by One's gunboat feet. The power flickered on and off until 2:30 when it finally died, and every time it went off one of the boys would announce "I need to use the potty!" Oscar cried because Lamb was on top of us and he wasn't and that made him jealous. And on and on and on. We were in the studiest part of the house, but the wind still sounded like a train on top of the house. Our attic has an old-fashioned attic fan so it's very open to the outside. The big, heavy attic door kept jumping and banging every minute or so as everything re-pressurized. About 3am or so, when the worst was going on outside, I was pretty scared. I curled up in a ball next to Husband and prayed about that attic door until I fell asleep. The next thing I knew it was 6am and we could walk around the house again. It was still storming but nothing like what went on in the night.

Last night we went for a drive to see what was open, and were surprised to see how much was going on. Our favorite BBQ place, Goode Company, was open and the line was around the building. Someone even brought their Great Dane. Before FEMA could get MREs, ice and water out to their "points of distribution" the Goode family had fired up the smokers and were feeding all comers. Wine bars, Italian restaurants, you name it - in central Houston if you had power last night you were open, taking care of customers and making all of us even prouder of this great community we call home. I've loved this city since I first visited it in 1991. I've grown to love it more over the years; friendly people, good food and stay-out-of-your-way city government seems to sit well with me. But the last few days I've had all the more reason to love this town. People here get up and get it done. They don't wait for Governor Perry, FEMA, or anyone else to do it for them. They clear the streets, fire up the smokers and ovens, and get us all pizza, BBQ and cold beer when we need them. These are great people. This is a great town.

Two more points: Judge Ed Emmett and Mayor Bill White are spectacular leaders. They've been sane and reasonable at every press conference. They don't make promises they can't keep, but they seem to get things done faster than you'd expect. As an old colleague taught me once: undercommit and overdeliver. Yesterday afternoon one reporter was whining about food and ice in the Houston area and Emmett cut her off: let's think a minute, he said. On the one hand we have people whose homes were blown out of existence. On the other we have some people clamoring for ice. Who do you think we're going to help first? Strong leaders - exactly what you expect in this town. I'm not surprised.

Finally, I don't know the worst of what's gone on down in Galveston. I haven't seen a TV since Friday night/early Saturday AM. I know it's unimaginally bad and my heart breaks. Everything I could think of saying sounds trite. Please just pray for the people there. Don't pray for us; we have food and a home and not much to worry about. But the people in Galveston and all along the coast need your prayers. They don't need your pity, because they're tough Texas folk and don't like that sort of thing. They'll get things done for themselves just like we did; they just have a much bigger project ahead than we could ever dream of. Prayers will help.

More Ike posts are here; just scroll down for the beginning of it all.

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