Sunday, October 5, 2008

Hurricane Ike

I can't tell you how many times I've started this post over, because I felt like it was getting way too long and didn't want to bore you to pieces...but I finally realized this is a record of what happened for me and my family, and I am a very detailed person by nature, so - fair warning - this is going to be long!

We knew there was a possibility that we would get some sort of fall-out from Hurricane Ike, but early in the week, it didn't look like it would be too bad. My friend, LaDonna, who had already planned a trip, flew into town on Wednesday, Sept. 10th. I'm sure I encouraged her and said something like "Oh...we'll get some rain, but that's about it", and our biggest concern was losing power on Saturday and not getting to watch college football! Honestly...that was the biggest concern for us - even into Saturday! I guess that's why we've been friends for 35 years - we have our priorities in order!! :) She came in with her daughter, Alexia, who was turning 5 on Friday, Sept. 12th...and the adventure began.

As we looked at the hurricane tracker throughout Thursday, Ike turned just enough and was headed right for us. At one point, I saw a projection of where the eye would come inland and it was going right over our house - and it was big! Mandatory evacuations were given on Thursday (which did not include us) and the roads were packed heading north. Stores and gas stations were so crowded - I really have never seen anything like it. I had almost a full tank of gas, but Jeff made me sit in a line (about 8 cars long at every pump) and top of my tank. Later, I would be grateful. We started getting messages from the schools that they were all closing on Friday and Jeff didn't have to go into work on Friday. The strangest part was that Thursday was a beautiful day - sunny, not too hot - really nice. It was hard to imagine in less than 24 hours, we would be in the middle of a hurricane!

We spent the day Friday getting as prepared as we could...which included taking the girls to get pedicures for Alexia's birthday! Regardless of what was coming, we all had sparkling toes! :)

Alexia, Grace and Emma

Sparkling Toes!!

I had already stocked up on food and water, so I did all of my laundry - just in case we didn't have power for a few days. We heard that our area lost power for 3 days after Rita, so I wanted to be ready. (Little did I know how not ready I would be!) We also moved all the outside stuff into the garage...the grill, patio furniture, the trampoline...we took away all the potential projectiles!

We spent most of Friday evening watching the news and we knew it would start to get bad for us around 9:30, so we got the kids to bed at a good time with the hope they would sleep through everything. The wind started blowing hard right around 9:30 and then the rain came in sheets, but we didn't lose power until 12:30 in the morning. We were able to stay up and watch the news and stay as updated as we could.

On a side note, LaDonna and I were checking out FoxNews online and found that video clip of Geraldo getting knocked off his feet by the waves in Galveston. If you haven't seen that clip, watch it here. It is hilarious! We probably watched that thing 20 times and laughed until we cried every single time! I think it was the highlight of the night!

OK - back to the story - Ike went over us at a category 2 and we did get a break from the wind when the eye went over us around 5:00 in the morning. Jeff went out in the eye and he said it was beyond eerie - completely still - no wind, no rain, no clouds, no sound and completely dark. Then around 7:00 a.m. the second wave started. And, yes, all of our kids slept through the whole thing!

Saturday we went out to assess damage and, thankfully, ours was minimal. My sister's fence was blown down and our neighbor across the street had a 60 ft. pine tree fall in their yard and it just knicked the corner of their garage and fell across their driveway and into the backyard. We were able to drive around a little bit and see the remnants. I was amazed at the huge trees that were either snapped in two or completely uprooted. Trees, limbs, fences, debris and power lines were strewn everywhere. These pictures are from Kyle:

A neighbor's yard

This is usually a 4 lane road right by Angie's house.

This is the main entrance to Summerwood. By comparing the tree to the man in the yellow jacket, you can see how big it was. He's standing in front of the top of it and those branches are from the trunk that's laying across the road. It knocked down power lines with it. This road was actually closed for over a week.

This is my neighbor's garage that was knicked by their tree.

Grace, Pike and Adrian playing on Angie's back fence that was blown down.

Phone lines were down and cell phones didn't work, so we went and checked on friends and had some come and check on us. One of our friends had an extra generator and that ended up being the biggest blessing to our family!

When we got the generator set up - we were able to save our refrigerated food, run a few fans and - get this - watch TV - yes, our satellite TV was working! The hardest part was finding gas to run the generator. All the gas stations ran out of gas on Friday before the hurricane hit and, even when trucks came to deliver gas, there was no power to run the pumps. We would hear through word of mouth where there was a station that had both gas and a generator to run the pumps. Jeff sat in a line for over 6 hours one day and they ran out of gas right before he got there. We were planning strategies with our neighbor on the best way to get gas, and we shared and borrowed. It was crazy! That was the part I was not prepared for...I knew we would lose power, but I didn't think about the widespread ramifications - everything was shut down. There was no gas, no grocery stores, no Wal-mart, no Sonic, no restaurants. Our oven and microwave didn't work, so we grilled and grilled and grilled...and ate alot of sandwiches.

LaDonna was supposed to fly out on Monday and her flight was cancelled. She ended up getting to leave on Tuesday. I always hate to have friends leave, but I didn't want her to stay under these circumstances. I have to say that I am glad we experienced it together - one more thing to add to our list! :)

The next few days were almost all the same...a lot of cleaning up with neighbors, trying to find gas, checking on friends and trying to keep the kids entertained with no school.

We did get a change when Kyle and Angie decided to take a camping trip and took all 3 of my kids with them. They are amazing...2 adults, 6 kids and 1 large dog camping for an undetermined number of days! They loaded up bikes, old clothes and mosquito spray, and headed out on Wednesday. They ended up in Bastrop, which is outside of Austin, and had a blast.

I ended up driving to get the girls on Friday and we went to Austin and stayed in a hotel. Jeff and I had 2 tickets to the UT/Rice game and decided that I would take Grace before everything happened. We went ahead and kept our plans to go to the game. Jeff drove to Austin on Saturday to get Emma...and Grace and I headed to campus to walk around and go to the game. We had a blast! She loves her football and we stayed the whole time and yelled and sang fight songs and saw the tower light up orange. We stayed in Austin overnight and headed back to Houston on Sunday. Pike stayed with Kyle and Angie to camp through the weekend.

When we all got back on Sunday, we had been without power for 8 days and heard it might be Thursday before we got it back. Apparently our subdivision had extensive electrical damage. We were so thankful to have a generator and a little bit of power - even though we couldn't run the A/C, stove or microwave. I was able to vacuum a few times and run the washer. The biggest inconvience was hand-washing dishes everyday and hanging out clothes to dry on a makeshift clothesline. It brought back memories of helping my mom and grandma do the same things, so we really didn't have it too bad.

We finally got power back on Wednesday night - 12 days after Ike hit, and my sister had to wait until Saturday. The rest of the subdivision and the school were up and running on Sunday, so the kids were able to go back to school on Monday. They missed 2 weeks of school and we just found out that they don't have to make it up. The district got a waiver from the state for the days missed. I was glad to hear that...I would hate if they had to be in school until the middle of June!

That's enough for now...I have some things that I learned during the past few weeks, but those can wait for another time. If you're still with me, check back and I'll make sure the next post is more of a short story than a novel! :)


Keri said...

WOW!!! I kept asking Amy how you guys were. That is some scary stuff.

maramsey said...

So good to hear from you, see how things are doing! What an experience...