Post-IkeIt's been over a week now, so I had better try to wrap it up. Thanks to everyone who called or wrote to check up on me. Truth be told, I've still got a little bit of PTSD over the whole thing. Life isn't quite back to normal, but back to where I left off...
I turned out the lights and logged off at 11:30pm Friday night. The wind was picking up, but I've slept through worse. The storm "hit" at 1:00. That's when the wind and rain got really intense and sleeping was no longer an option. The power flickered (a/c would stop for a sec) a couple of times, so I got up and unplugged the power-strips to both my computer and the big TV. At 3:30, the power went out for good and I immediately started sweating. By this time, it was like a hurricane outside or something. The whole house was shaking worse than I've ever seen, plus it was dark. I wasn't just worried for me, I had my entire family with me and, even though I'm the youngest adult, I felt like it was my responsibility to take care of them. The wind and rain continued for what seemed like forever. Later I would find out that the storm track took it right up the east bank of Galveston Bay, which meant that the eye of the storm completely missed us. But even in the dark, we could tell when the winds had shifted.
The wind continued until about 10am. There was never much rain though. As we cautiously ventured outside, I could see that one of the downspouts to my gutters had ripped clean off the wall and some of my siding was gone. A little bit of rain got inside, but nothing inside was damaged. Then it became just a waiting game for the electricity to come back on. My freezer was stocked with food that my family had brought, as well as a bunch of water bottles that I froze before the storm. I knew it would keep cold for a couple of days at least. Mostly, we made sandwiches and listened to a little battery-powered radio. The kids, however, mostly ran from inside to outside, from upstairs to downstairs, and back again. With the doors and windows open to encourage a breeze, those brats tracked all sorts of dirt & crap into my previously spotless home.
The entire Houston-Galveston area was lucky that the weather after the storm was as mild as it was. If it had been a typical September day, there'd still be bodies out in the street. It was cooler than normal, but that's still pretty warm and I just couldn't stop sweating. That night I took a sleeping pill and managed to get some rest, laying on the cool, hard tile at the foot of my stairs. By Sunday afternoon my family and I were at each other's throats. The radio was reporting over 2 MILLION people without electricity or water and we were told that the expected wait was 3-4 weeks. I knew it wouldn't be that long, but I wanted out. We started preparing to leave for my parent's cabin in the hill country when my brother-in-law, who had ventured down to the suburbs to check on his house, reported (we all still had working cellphones) that the power had come back on. Still, the women and children went up to the cabin while the men went down to my sister's. There was a lot more cleaning up to do down there, but no damage to their home.
I spent Sunday and Monday nights at my sister's in the relative comfort of air conditioning and hot showers. Monday afternoon, my neighbors reported that electricity was restored to our community but I stayed away one more night. Without gas & groceries readily available, I wasn't anxious to come home, but I slept in my own bed Tuesday night under a spinning ceiling fan, just the way I like it. Cable/internet and all the other "comforts" (intarweb pr0n) were up and ready to go.
As of this writing, there are still over 3/4 of a million people without electricity in the Houston area and a nightly curfew. I went to my local sushi bar Friday night, had a cheesesteak today, and went grocery shopping as if nothing happened. There wasn't even a line at the gas station near my home. There are still HUGE piles of tree debris, but the city is nothing like the images of Galveston/Bolivar Penninsula that you've undoubtedly seen on TV. I saw on TV earlier today that some residents of Galveston are being allowed to go home, not that they all have homes to which to go back. I couldn't help thinking of the Katrina people who still refuse to go home 3 years later ... well, I don't know what I think about that. A lot more people were affected by this one, but a lot more people lost their lives in that one. The comparison just seems petty.