Monday, September 15, 2008

(Y)ike(s): A Hurricane in Houston



It is now early Monday morning. I began typing my reflections early Saturday morning, as Hurricane Ike was making its way through Houston.

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Saturday, September 13
It is now about 7:30am, and I’ve been awake for 4 hours or so. I went to bed about 12:30am and woke up about 3:30am (Ike made landfall around 2am) to shearing winds and rain pelting the windows of my home. No more sleep for me.

I was surprised we still had electricity when I awoke. Between about 3:30am and 6:45am, the electricity flickered 7 or 8 times, but it has been off now for close to an hour. I was able to catch local newscasts and see the radar. Now that the power is out I’m listening to the radio.

We live in the far northwest part of Houston which means we are on the west side of the storm—the so-called “clean” side. Nevertheless, we are getting some high winds and heavy rain. (My guess is that the gusts are in excess of 50 mph.)

My parents and two brothers (and future sister-in-law) as well as my mother-in-law are on the east side of the storm—the vicious “dirty” side of Ike. My brother is in law enforcement on the east side of town, and my future sister-in-law is a nurse and on call in the medical center area of Houston. [At this point (early Monday morning), I've not talked to them, although I know they are both fine. And I have not talked to any of my teaching colleagues, so I hope they are all doing fine. I did get a voicemail from The Proletarian last night to say they were ok but without electricity. I've not talked with my two Religion in American History blog friends who are in Houston either, Luke Harlow and Gerardo Marti, but hope to connect at some point later on today. UPDATE: Luke reports in the comments that he's doing fine, and all is well with Gerardo as we spoke by phone this morning. Three of my teaching colleagues are doing ok, although without electricity. Haven't heard from everybody, though.]

The kids have been asleep downstairs through it all. They’ve hardly rustled, thankfully. Every so often I hear things pelting the windows and roof, and the general whistling and howling of the wind is a bit unsettling with the gusts. Power lines dot the north edge of the backyard, and they continue to whip and rock back and forth. I’m hoping they don’t snap.


Now that it is getting light outside, I see shingles around the backyard and a few in the front. Two sections of our backyard fence are down—similar to what happened (as I remember it) during Hurricane Alicia in 1983 (I was 6 at the time).

Monday, September 15
Once the rain stopped on Saturday we were able to survey the damage to our home. Thankfully, it was minimal. We lost significant numbers of shingles on the north and east side of the roof, and none of the tar paper (if that is the correct term) was torn, so at this point there do not appear to be any roof leakage. Four sections of our fence fell over due to high winds (the pictures you see), and so with some new wood, some nails, a saw, and a hammer it should be fixed soon. I've already talked with the neighbors, and I'm happy to say it was easy to arrange splitting the repair costs.

We were without electricity all day Saturday and most of the day Sunday. We listened to the radio to see what we could gather about getting electricity back, and to find out about the rest of the city. Our cell phone service was spotty, and so we could really only leave voice mails with family and friends. We hopped in the car to drive around the neighborhood to survey the damage and to cool off a bit, and did the same on Sunday.

Overcast skies prevented the house from getting too warm on Saturday, but by that evening it was a bit stuffy. It actually rained early Sunday morning and by midday the sun was out and things began heating up significantly. We had stocked up on water so were able to keep somewhat cool and the kids enjoyed melted pop sickles in the afternoon. Our food supply was getting somewhat low because, well, six mouths to feed is a lot, and because our ice in the cooler in which we had sandwich meat, pasta, milk, etc. was beginning to melt.

We passed the time by reading inside, and by playing outside, chatting with neighbors, and watching the kids run around and splash in the water with neighborhood friends. We saw some dear friends at the store this afternoon (while we were still without electricity), and they invited us over for some a/c, a wonderful meal (they had an industrial size generator installed at their home Friday morning, so they were in pretty good shape throughout the storm), and hearty fellowship.




Now that electricity is back on and we've been able to catch up with the news and with family (some of whom do not have electricity yet), we are fortunate to have escaped with minor damage and minimal discomfort without a/c for a day and a half. Volunteers are out in massive numbers helping those in Houston and surrounding areas who were hardest hit. Thoughts and prayers help at a time like this, no doubt, but so does food, water, shelter, a/c, etc. Many of the schools here will be out through Wednesday, and it appears most local universities will reopen on Tuesday (at this point).

In addition to my own two cents worth about Ike, there are some other news sites you might find of interest: A Houston Chronicle blog, Houston Independent Media's Ike stories (you may have to scroll down the page), a Weather Underground blog, and a local CBS affiliate's Ike site. Here's a resident from my town who posted some YouTube videos of Ike, another video of a neighborhood close to where I teach (about 40 minutes southwest of where I live), and some AP aftermath footage.

4 comments:

Luke Harlow said...

Phil,

Thanks for posting this and thanks for the Ike links. The Houston Chronicle's site (chron.com) has been first rate since before the storm started. I wasn't totally aware of those other sites.

The wind was pretty intense in this part of town. I guess theoretically we were on the "clean" side as well, but it was such a big storm. Our part of the city was pretty close to the eye wall, but never had the eye--in other words just constant heavy winds and rain from about 1:30a to 6:30/7a or so. I couldn't accurately guess on wind speed, but we were surely in the high 60s and 70s for several hours, with gusts above that (based on the KHOU radio feed I was listening to during the storm).

Our power stayed on much longer than I expected (I think it went out about 1:30a Sat.), but has not yet been restored. A neighbor's tree fell across the back of our yard/driveway and ripped the power cord and power meter off our our duplex. I think it is going to be a while before power is restored to our apt. Fortunately, some friends of ours who have power have been letting us stay with them.

Mostly, it looks like a lot of limbs are down around here (along with wind damage like your fence), but there are also a number of trees down. Rice's buildings looked fine, but there's also a lot of stuff down over there (including several new trees that had been planted in the last 18 months or so).

Having never been one of these things before, this was pretty nuts. I have no idea how some people were able to sleep through Ike. Still, whatever we experienced in Houston seems fairly minor compared to what was going on just a little further south and east.

Phil said...

Hey Luke, thanks for the updates. Glad you guys are ok. It sounds like you have a place to stay, but you and your wife are welcome here if you need it or just need a change of scenery. Stay in touch.

deg said...

Glad to hear y'all are safe and sound. Hope the power gets back on soon.

Phil said...

Thanks deg. Power's back on and all is well. Thanks for checking in.