Friday, September 19, 2008

Hurricanes and such

Y'all - for two days blogger will not cooperate with me on this post. Won't let me plant pictures, align text, etc. I don't know why. But I am going to go ahead and publish this post even though it looks really ugly. I have had withdrawals from being out of the blogosphere for a week now!
I apologize! I will put captions beneath the photos.
our front yard
across the street - the noise I heard

scenes from the neighborhood

I have lived in Houston my entire life. I have been through several a hurricane. None of which has caused serious damage to the Houston area.

I have also noticed that, since Katrina, the media has lived with Gulf-baited breath for another hurricane to hit with the same amount of dirty laundry and camera ops as Katrina afforded.

Benign experience + media disgust = unbridled cynicism.
I scoffed.
I scoffed at Ike.

Now, I am certainly one with strong opinions. But I like to believe that my opinions are well-researched. I don't just spout off at the mouth willy nilly. I google first, y'all.

While others boarded up their windows and stocked up on bottled water I googled hurricanes in Houston: Carla, Alicia. Even the great hurricane of 1900 that devastated Galveston (and ultimately made Houston the city it is today.) And my googling indicated legitimate reason to scoff.

We are almost 100 miles from the coast. We didn't flood during Allison. This ain't New Orleans. Et cetera.

About 4am Saturday morning, this scoffer got schooled.

It was bad.

There. I am eating crow on national blogger.
I was wrong.
Ike was scary.

About 10:30pm Friday night our lights went out. We were among the first in the metroplex, which was annoying. I knew our power would go; if three people in this neighborhood sneeze simultaneously we lose power. But at 10:30? When it wasn't even raining, and only slightly windy? That's just shameful.

My box fan/white noise addicted child Shepherd immediately awoke, and came downstairs to our bed. We walked outside and listened to the wind, and marveled at the darkness of a world without electricity. Then we all went to bed. All three of us.

Soon the heat/Walker's snoring/Shepherd's snoring became too much for me to bear and I moved to the couch where I could open windows. And try to read by candlelight, "so Abraham Lincoln" as my husband noted.

Now I knew that losing TV and air conditioning and internet would be hard. What I had not considered was how hard it would be to be completely cut off from the news when I knew a hurricane is headed our way. The one battery operated radio we had wouldn't work, and I didn't really want to go outside in the drizzle (because it was just drizzle) and wind to sit in the car. So I sat there, clueless. But our cell phone was working and our friends Joel in Oklahoma and Brian in Austin texted me news for a while. At 12:49am Joel texted this:

Front eyewall is over Galveston,
but midpoint is still 20 miles out.
Moving at 12 mph...
It will be a loooooong night.
You are 74 miles away.

Minutes later, Brian texted

Galveston under 12 feet of water

and then it hit me. This was real. My Galveston, my beloved Galveston, where I have spent my Thanksgivings, where I just spent a girls' weekend a month ago, under 12 feet of water. Any scoffing or denial or disbelief was shredded. Galveston under 12 feet of water.

I laid on the couch, listening to the wind pick up outside my open windows, and wanted to throw up and cry. Instead I prayed. I prayed for the people still down on Galveston, I prayed specifically for each beach house that has given us so many good memories, I prayed for those who had already been hurt by the storm. And, I asked forgiveness for not taking this seriously enough.

I tried to sleep, but between another white noise addicted child realizing at 2am that her fan was off and other issues, it didn't happen much. Then at 4am, in my neighborhood almost 100 miles from the coast, along came Ike.
Wind, rain, the noise. It is cliche to say it sounded like a freight train, but, it sounded like a freight train. From an upstairs window, alone, I watched the huge trees in my yard bend and shudder. And I prayed some more. The lack of rain was mysterious, but the wind was so fierce. About 4:3o, I jumped at a crash that I thought must be thunder. It wasn't thunder.

Now I have watched enough hurricane documentaries on the Discovery Channel to know that there is supposed to be storm storm - then calm - then storm storm storm. About 5am, it calmed. I wondered if this was the eye, and the worst was yet to come, as unimaginable as that may be. And it didn't happen. The storm storm storm was what I had witnessed. So I don't know if I slept through the pre-eye, or what - if anyone knows, please inform me. School me some more.

The kids, their white noise provided once again, slept through all of it. I did fall back asleep evntually, and when I awoke, I opened my door to another world.

In my front yard, I couldn't even see the grass for all the debris. On the bright side, I figure that was about $1,000 in tree trimming, for free. A silver lining girl, I am.

And in my neighbor's yard, I saw the "thunder" that I heard at 4:30. A big tree, about 20 feet up, just snapped in half like a toothpick.

We lost some fence, but that is it. We were blessed.

Later I drove around and gaped at the war zone that our neighborhood had become. Huge oak trees completely uprooted. One hundred foot trees, weighing a ton or more, on their sides.

But you must notice that almost every tree falls away from the homes. I only saw two homes in my neighborhood that had been directly hit: I saw dozens that fell and hit nothing but grass. There is no other way to explain this but God's grace. I don't know why he chose to spare most of the homes in my particular neighborhood; I am just thankful that he did.

The wrath of God is mighty...the grace of God is mightier.

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