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In the aftermath of Ike

September 16, 2008

We’ve survived the wind, the rain, and the 90 year old granny’s birthday party in the midst of the storms.  What a day Saturday was!!!  You can have a 90th birthday party but once.  The celebration came in the middle of one of the worst weather calamities of my memory.  Ike descended on the coast with a terrible vengance.  Then he plowed his way up through Texas and ran amuck here in the eastern parts.  Granny’s birthday dawned gray and humid.  The day grew steadily more dismal and nasty til around 11 when the first gusts began to blow.  I put a Wal-Mart sack over my head and ran out the door, realizing that my umbrella would be useless against the wind.

We drove to town in horrible weather.  The car, though larger than most on the road, was blown about as if it weighed no more than a feather.  Trees were bending in the already 30-40 MPH winds and rain pelted down, drenching the party wear and freshly done hair.  Creeks were rising fast and overflowing into the lowland areas.  Power had flickered off several times during the morning hours and finally gave up the efforts to remain on about 10:30 am.

Granny was disappointed in her party.  She had planned a buffet for 100 to help her celebrate and we were 22 strong in the fellowship hall at church.  The power went off  about 1/2 hour into the fun.  About midway through the meal, shingles started to loosen on the church roof.  The wind had intensified and rain was coming down in sheets.  Many shingles ripped loose around the steeple and leaks started appearing all over the church.  The sanctuary and main foyers were flooded.  The party room sprouted a couple of spots and the party broke up.  We went back to our cars in gale force winds and driving rain.  It was a long ride home. 

We did make it, though.  We arrived home to no power just in time for the eye to make it to our fair city.  For a little while we had a calm in which to assess damages and get back to shelter.  My sister’s roof was hanging on for dear life but I’m happy to say it held.  Our cars were under roofs and safe from hail.  Our animals were safe inside and happy about it.  We watched as the back of the eye rolled through.  Ike was still between category 2-3 when it hit.  In front of the eye, the storm is less intense than in the back.  The wind now blew in gusts from the south and the trees bent low.  Limbs fell.  Rain blew in heavy sheets.  Visibility was nil.  My husband’s sawhorses and our trash cans became missiles as did the cat’s food pan.

The girls and I huddled in the living room with our pets and listened to the wind howl.  My sister described it earlier in the day as the sound of cats yowling in a sack.  I believe that in the back of the eye, the sound grew to be more like a freight train.  There was no thunder and lightening such as we get normally.  It was only wind and rain but such wind and rain!!! 

The weather forecasters predicted that the storm would be over by 7 pm and it was.  I cooked us some dinner on a Coleman camp burner…you know the kind…it has a base that you place a bottle of propane in and screw on the burner.  I heated left overs and made skillet biscuits and so we had a hot meal despite no power.  EMS said we needed to draw up water while it was still safe so we filled every available container with filtered water and then used a 58 qt tote to hold water for bathing.  Rodney and Amy went to town to check on the damage and to get some ice so we could salvage our fridge contents.  We got a big bowl of ice in the fridge and put the rest of the bag in a cooler.  Even though there was no electricity, we weren’t hungry or thirsty, we were safe, we only had a few missing boards and prongs from the antenna, and we knew God was near.

We went to bed early.  What are you gonna do with no lights?  The next morning about 8:30, I was awakened by the ceiling fan coming on.  What was this feeling…oh yeah, it felt cool!  The humidity of the last 3 days was being chased away by the a/c coming on. 

We had no church on Sunday.  There were still no lights there and there was considerable water damage inside the building.  Lots of church members were also picking up the pieces and our gym was housing 120 evacuees from Galveston in a facility w/o power.  I emptied the freezer and cooked all the meat.  I returned several pounds of cooked meat to the freezer later so I can happily say that I have enough cooked for at least 3 weeks worth of meals.  Oh happy day!

Today, Monday, no school here, no power for most of the 12,000 in-city residents.  Outlying areas are boiling water.  Trees are down, their roots sticking up in the air like paralyzed spider legs.  Many are down on power lines or telelphone lines and both services are out.  My grandchildren live on a rural road where so many trees fell in one location, they were unable to leave their house.  They are boiling water and until earlier in the day had no way to do that.  They got a 2 burner coleman stove today and a supply of propane so they will have hot meals tonight and they can boil the water so it’s safe now. 

(There they are, enjoying the sunshine God gave us today…it was good to get outside for a little while.) 

The little ones think of it as a great adventure.  I tend to be that way too.  In retrospect, I feel that the storm was not as bad as it could have been but worse than I expected, after all, it isn’t the first storm that has come through East Texas.   I can’t help but think about those who chose to stay and ride it out in those areas where Ike made landfall.  I’ve heard their stories and watched their tales of rescue on tv.  What were they thinking to stay in the pathway of something like that?  I hope that having experienced the power and intensity of Ike, when Jezebel or Kenneth or Peter come along, those who stuck it out will get the heck out of there. 

I watched the journalist’s accounts of the storm down south  Having weathered the storm here, I cannot imagine facing it at a category 5 as some did in Katrina or as a 3 as those in Galveston and Houston did.  I hope we all take a lesson from Ike and prepare to clear future storm’s paths.  A lot more lives may be saved if we will take the warnings to heart.  Some say that hindsight is better than foresight….probably so. 

It is a weekend that will live on in my memory for some time to come.  I had a lot planned for those days.  I survived the muddle made of my plans.  I survived the storm.  In the aftermath, I can look back and tell myself as always that…”You know, in 50 years, no one will remember…or really care.”…but I will care and all those that face devastating loss last weekend will care and they will remember too.

I drove under this tree several times today.  Some incredibly brave or awesomely stupid person cut away the bottom 4 pieces of the trunks here…You see the top one, that we all drive under rests on a broken power line and the cuts were made while the line was still hot.

I have homework due at midnight tomorrow and I have yet to read my assigned chapters…it will be a busy rest of the week.  I know ya’ll will keep me in your prayers as I do my very best to remember always that nothing is impossible with God.  Let’s also remember those who have lost so much, who are without power, water, and shelter, and those who have lost family due to the storm.  And, lastly,  if they don’t know our God, let’s ask Him to allow them to meet him real soon through an encounter during these present circumstances.   Let’s pray that we’ll be His feet, His hands, and His body as we help those who are in need during this time.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 16, 2008 6:34 am

    Glad to here you are okay. My cousin in Houston said their power should be back on tomorrow.

    One thing I have learned living in Florida is that I would rather have a tornado than a hurricane.

    Here when the winds hit 35 mph sustained winds they pull all emergency vehicles and tell people to stay off the roads. They would never make it in West Texas. When I flew into DFW in June the wind was gusting up to 60 mph and there was no storm.

  2. mamacurry permalink*
    September 16, 2008 3:42 pm

    I was reminded once again of how much we take our utilities for granted til we are without them. I’m glad to know that there are folks down south getting their power back on though. It’s hard to be without it once you are used to it.
    I’m with you. I hate tornado weather. But at least they are familiar to us, right? I;ve always loved the wind and windy days are my favorites to go for a walk. There’s just something about having the wind blow your hair around…. At least the weekend’s winds were gusts rather than sustained and we were not as confined as we might have been.
    I’ve been on planes in those winds and I really don’t like it much but hey, it’s Texas!!!
    Did you find a job yet?

  3. September 16, 2008 6:51 pm

    No job yet.

    Do you read the Texas Baptist Blog? They have had several posts about relief efforts in S. Texas.

    The worst wind I’ve experienced has been flying in to OKC. The jets are smaller and the wind may not be any strong but at least at DFW there are buildings and other things.

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