Saturday, September 13, 2008

Weathering the Storm

(This may be a pretty boring read but first and foremost, this is my journal and I am trying to keep a record for memories sake.)

The storm has passed and we are all in one piece. I haven't been through a storm like this since 1983's Hurricane Alicia but I was much further north during that storm and only a child. My memories from that storm were sitting around the dark living room silently staring around at each other with wide eyes while listening to that eerie whistling sound and occasional loud thumps. After the storm had passed we had a hurricane picnic party with some neighbor friends. The lantern got out of control and my father had to run outside in the rain to put it out. During the party our power came back on.

This time, I slept before the worst of the storm came through but got up once the winds started howling. I sat on the couch and alternately listened to the newscast and the fierce gusts. Some of the gusts were a bit frightening at times and definitely a sound you don't soon forget. Because of the alignment of our particular apartment and the design of surrounding apartments we were fairly sheltered from any flying debris. Our 2 large windows face east and during the first part of the storm the winds came out of the north, during the back end of the storm the winds came out of the southwest. Our front door opens to a covered hallway and we were able to take peeks out to see what was happening during.

We have actually made it through without losing power. Reports are nearly 4 million people in the area are without power except for downtown and the medical center. We are a few miles west of downtown and seem to be an electrical island of sorts. The high rise hotel and restaurants next door are without power but we are still going strong. Reports are people could be without power for weeks. Our complex and the one across the street were a ghost town before the storm but I guess word spread that we have power and the parking lots are now packed. We currently live at one of the hottest addresses in town.

The city also had one of the 3 large water pumping stations go down and as a result we have lost water pressure. They have asked everyone to boil water before drinking in case of contamination. Due to the loss of water pressure we have been flushing our toilet using water from the swimming pool. LOL (update) The station has since been brought back online this evening but we will have to wait until tomorrow for officials to test the water. We are still told to conserve water for the time being. In anticipation we filled every spare container with water so we have days worth of drinking water. We also cleaned out and filled our bath tub with water for washing up. I was forced to take a standing sponge bath tonight but if that is the most horrible thing I have to deal with, I am truly blessed.

Damage on the property was limited to a few shutters, signs, and shingles being pulled off, most wooden fences blown down and a few trees uprooted. We walked around the beautiful tree lined streets of the neighboring subdivision and saw many trees down, limbs broken and foam insulation from new construction all over the streets. They don't have power.

My grandmother lives down the street from us in a high rise. They don't have power and the various building functions are electrical. When the power went out the exterior locks all stopped working so security had to chain the doors to keep them from blowing open. The elevators were running off of a generator but the windows of the party room on the roof all shattered and water ran down the elevator shafts and fried them. Lots of elderly people live there and were forced to climb down 17 stories worth of stairs. She is staying with us for the night; she has plate glass windows in her apartment that don't open so there is no air circulation in there. My aunt who lives in Brenham is coming to pick her up tomorrow.

My parents live about 40 miles north of us and fared far worse but still didn't experience anything disastrous. They are without power but luckily never lost water pressure. They didn't sleep much as they listened to the howling wind and various thuds and crashes going on around them. Sometime during the night they heard a crash on the roof as a limb from the huge tree fell on it. When my father heard that he got up and moved his truck out of the driveway and onto the street. Right afterward a massive branch fell down where his truck had been. They will have to cut that tree down now because almost all of the branches have been snapped off. A tree in the backyard snapped about 2 feet from the ground and their fence partially blew down. Their neighborhood has many trees snapped and and branches everywhere. All of the places with huge, beautiful trees are seeing the same thing.

Clean up around the city is underway. Virtually all windows on one side of the Chase Tower were blown out but it seems downtown was lucky because that seems to be the biggest damage there.

Our city is under a mandatory curfew from 9 pm to 6 am until next Saturday. We are going to have to defy the curfew later this week since we teach a class in Spring (30 minutes north of Houston) and our class doesn't end until 8:45pm.

The island and coastal communities have been devastated. Many people didn't heed the evacuation orders and called for emergency rescue during the worst of the storm. The emergency workers weren't able to go out for them due to the risks. It's sad, but when a huge storm is headed straight for the community, common sense should prevail. What is more important, material possessions or life? My prayers are with everyone who is dealing with the worst right now. Brandon and I and our family are all very blessed to come through unhurt and with utilities intact. God is good.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I am so glad that you are all ok. I have been in contact with my extended family, and they are fine,too. I remember Alicia, as well. My Dad made a "fort" by turning over our couches in the living room. We all crammed under with an assortment of supplies. I remember that the walls were literally sucking in and out, but I wasn't scared b/c it was Fun! It sounds like you and your family sure were blessed.