Officially, Hurricane Ike came ashore Saturday, September 13. As far as I’m concerned, Ike started showing his fanny about noon on Friday the 12th. Both Big J’s and my office were closed so we were home all day watching TV. Phil Archer on KPRC Channel 2 was standing on the Galveston seawall, saying, “GET OUT!” At noon the water was already beginning to surge over the seawall. And then they would interview these people who said, “I’ve hunkered down through the other storms and I won’t leave for this one.” Those are the people they later found in their homes (if they were lucky), guarding their precious stuff with their lifeless bodies. We were far enough inland that the Gulf surge was not a concern or we woulda’ been out of there also.
We kept running to the dollar store to buy more batteries, water, paper plates, Ritz crackers. It was weird what I ended up stocking the pantry with. Stuff we had never eaten and weren’t going to eat. We kept going outside to look at the sky. We kept pacing because there was too much nervous energy running through us. We kept waiting.
Around 8:00pm or so, the wind started picking up. Psych was playing on TV. Big J WENT TO BED. And SLEPT. Little J and I stayed up to watch TV. We began losing electricity around 10:30pm and totally lost it after 11:00. I finally convinced Little J to get on a pallet in our bedroom and he also slept. Not me. I was hearing every noise going on outside. It was getting hot and stuffy in the house with no electricity. I opened a window, but by then it was raining really hard so I could only crack it. I had a battery powered radio on which I could listen to a TV band. So I’m huddled in the recliner by the barely-open window, listening to the radio, hearing the wind grow more and more fierce while trying to catch a breath of air from the window. After a while I started hearing branches snap. I looked out the window just in time to see our back fence fall. The house was creaking and crackling.
I was the most scared I have ever been in my life. At the point when the winds were the highest, I had the strangest feeling that this was the first time I had ever really had NO control over the situation I was in. I prayed and handed it over and told God He was really going to have to take care of this as it was way too big for me!! It also reminded me that we can be smart and have technology and electricity and computers and blah blah blah, but when Mother Nature gets ready to do her thing, we have to just step back and let her go!!!
Sometime in the early morning hours the winds started to subside. And I started breathing again. I stretched out on the couch and listened to the damage reports on the radio. Big J FINALLY woke up and stumbled back in. Little J slept through the whole thing. After a long night, I finally went to sleep for a couple of hours. When daylight came, we went out to inspect what Ike had wrought. The street that leads to our house is covered by a tree canopy. The street was carpeted with leaves.
It was a sight. We had a pine tree in the front yard and it was standing, minus one large branch. We took a stroll around our neighborhood. Here’s what we saw.
No electricity for a week. We were lucky. My boss was without for two weeks. My office was open Monday. There was some damage to the building, but not enough to keep people out. I drove downtown each day with rollers in my hair, and I would put my makeup on and fix my hair when I got to the office. Little J was out of school for a week, so it was kinda a bummer to go into work, but at least there I had air conditioning. Some office buildings a few blocks over were out of commission for weeks. I would take my laptop each day and charge it. At night we would watch a movie until the laptop died, then go to bed as there was nothing else to do.
There was one good silver lining from this time. Two or three nights we got together with good friends and put our food together. I think we grilled one night. We played games by lantern or large flashlights. It was fun, in spite of the circumstances. When one family got a generator, we thought we were in high cotton!
Hurricane Alicia hit in 1983, Ike in 2008. I hope the next big storm takes the hint and doesn’t come around for another 25 years.
All photographs and writing property of LoneStarLifer. 2009.