Monday, September 15, 2008

I Survived IKE!

Sorry I have not gotten word up sooner, but we are still without power and I am using the internet connection and power off of a generator at El Esposo's office. This is a LONG post and there are a few pics. Sorry if it is dull reading.

IKE Diary

After I went to bed on Friday night around midnight I had was awaken by the wind around 2:40 am. We have new double pane storm windows and they dampen the sounds from outside pretty well. We still had power, but I had noticed that the clock was flashing 12:54 so the power had been out in the past hour. When we looked out the window over our bed into our backyard, the hurricane force winds were whipping through the trees and it was very loud. Our window faces north so the rain would hit it every once and a while since the wind was blowing from east to west. All we could do was go back to sleep.

I was dozing lightly and around 3:00 am, we lost our power for good. It flickered on twice but then it was gone. I looked out the window and saw the trees almost leaning sideways from the winds and the sky being lit up green and white at times from explosions at transformers. I wandered to the hall bathroom to look out the window to the front of the house. I could see flashlights roving around in our neighbor’s windows across the street and a single faint light in the neighbors diagonally across the street from us. The winds were constant and extremely high. I have been through a tornado before and many people say it sounds like a freight train but the winds from this hurricane sounded like I was standing at the end of a runway and jets were passing overhead. It was a constant roar. Branches were flying through the air but with the street lights out it was hard to tell if any of the trees were down. There was not much to do but go back to bed.

I was awoken at 5:50 am by the phone. I fumbled my way downstairs to answer it. It was Quincy, our next-door neighbor and she was telling me that their pine tree in their front yard was about to fall over and it might hit our Honda Accord that was parked on the street in an effort to keep it in an area that was tree free. I was looking out the back window in our utility room and stepped in water that had blown under the back door. I put down a towel to soak it up and saw that the tree in the neighbor’s yard behind us was missing but it was still too dark to see where it was. The winds were still just as strong but now they were blowing from west to east. I could not go the front of the house because my phone cord was not long enough. After hanging up the phone, I went to look out of the front windows and saw the huge pine tree laying in our front yard and it was hung up in our oak tree. There was really nothing I could do but wait until it got a little lighter outside. I decided to give my dad a call and let him know that we were ok. He gets up pretty early so I knew that he would want to know how we were doing.

It did not seem to get light enough outside to see much until 8:30 am. The winds were still blowing and gusting but it was nothing like what I saw around 3 am and 5:45 am that morning. We had to be careful not to have the refrigerator door open for more than a few seconds to keep the cold air in. After breakfast El Esposo was getting antsy to go out and start pulling down the trees but it was raining pretty hard and still blowing. Around 10:30 I got on a pair of old running shoes and some tech clothes and put on my foul weather gear from when I used to race sailboats. I figured nothing was going to get in those seals and get me wet. I went for a walk down my street and over a block and down the next street and back to my street. There were a lot of trees down across the road that people had already gotten a chain saw to open the road to traffic. The storm drain grates were clogged with leaves, branches, and pine needles. I took the time to open up three of them and got the ankle deep standing water moving off the street and into the drain. There was a pine tree that fell over onto some power lines and they were hanging low over the street and people were still driving their cars under them! The main intersection by the end of my block was flooded and the water was half way up the wheels of the cars. I was really surprised at how many people were out driving on the roads. I saw that there was another tree down across the street on Jones Rd. and I watched as the fire department brought in a Caterpillar tractor and pushed it off the street onto the median.

The tractor moved to our street and moved our neighbor’s pine tree out of the street and back into their yard. There were neighbors out that I have never met before. We all got out our rakes, handsaws, chain saw, and axes and started working on helping each other open up driveways and clear the debris out of the street and clear out the gutters. We spent all afternoon on this job. The kids were out helping and bringing out sandwiches and bottled water.

After a shower and some grilled chicken breasts and corn on the cob the sun went down and we collapsed into a deep sleep until the windows being shaken by violent thunder and lightening awaked us. The last thing that we needed was more water. Our front lawn was like soup with the trees down and now there was a greater chance of having more trees uprooted from the soft soil and for our creeks and gullies to wash out and start flooding.

The rain ended around 9 am and there was a noticeable difference in the temperature outside. That was a huge relief since the house was stuffy. We got all of the windows open and tried to cool things off. I made some scrambled eggs on the BBQ for everyone and I have gotten those Palmolive hands from washing dishes in the sink. El Esposo was able to drive up to his office and found out that there was power and 40 lb. bags of ice in the freezer!!! We got ice for the neighbors and us and brought that home. After lunch I could tell that El Esposo was getting antsy. He started going around and picking up and cleaning house while the rest of us were reading a book or occupying ourselves quietly. He was a little frantic running from here to there picking up and even crawling across the carpet picking up leaves and grass bits we had dragged in. He was driving me NUTS! I finally asked if he had any objections to letting me go out for a run.

This was my chance to get out and do my creek report. The tree damage was pretty bad in areas but I did not see any trees though the roofs of people’s houses. Fences were down all over the place. Lots of people were out cleaning up, having block parties and firing up the BBQ, tossing the football, riding bikes (without helmets!!!), and walking dogs. There were plenty of people out on the road by they had to be in by 9pm for the curfew. The creeks and the gullies were up! I am surprised that they did not go over their banks. (Slide show to come)

After grilling some turkey burgers and some sweet potato fries and having bananas and strawberries for desert El Esposo headed for bed. He had some red wine with diner and he was drunk. The kid and I stayed up for a bit until he finally bit the dust as well. I stayed up and worked on knitting a scarf. I need a scarf in Houston like I need a hole in my head but it kept me busy. I finally went to bed when all the stuff I was hearing on the radio was repeat information. I still have no Internet or television so I am not able to see the devastation and destruction that everyone else sees. All I know is that Galveston is really bad off. Crystal Beach and Bolivar Peninsula are basically gone. There was a 17-foot storm surge in the Kemah area and the Kemah Boardwalk is in ruins. Boat are washed up on the road or completely sunk in Clear Lake. Downtown Houston is closed because of all the glass that was shattered out of the windows of the office buildings. The freeways leading into Houston had been flooded from White Oak and Buffalo Bayou but they seem to be passable now. Schools are closed until Thursday and some grocery stores and restaurants are open. They have gotten power back to the pumping stations for water and to the hospitals. Some malls have power so that people can come get out of the heat and get a meal at the food court.

I worked out in the yard again on Monday since my gym was closed due to no power. 3 out of every 4 power customers are still without electricity but a cool front has rolled in and the high today is only 83! I am getting low on perishable food and we are going to have to heat up canned soup on the grill for dinner tonight or heat up a pot of water and make some pasta. I have been eating a lot of foods that I am allergic to and I am itching all the time now.

I will try to get more news out soon!

Later Gators,

Liz

5 comments:

TNTcoach Ken said...

Glad to hear you guys are safe.

Jeff said...

Great to hear from you, Liz. Great report, too!

Hope you get your power back soon.

Flatman said...

So so glad to hear you guys are okay... Be safe.

Paul said...

Yay! Hopefully you get power soon. What a mess.

Rainmaker said...

Good to hear you're safe and that the trees managed to miss important objects (namely...you).