Down Memory Lane - Hurrican Ike, An Eye Witness Account

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Written by my grandmother in Houston. I found it interesting and thought I would share it with you. And when they get my Aunt’s power back on I should have some pictures to share as well.

It was Thursday afternoon on Sept. 11, 2008 as we sat awaiting the arrival of Ike. It seemed as if the entire city and surrounding suburbs were entirely shut down after residents had cleaned the grocery store shelves of all food and water, and drained the gas stations dry. I wonder why people wait until the last minute to make their preparations. It was kind of eerie with the city shut down and now it was just a matter of waiting. Hurricanes can be so boring while we keep waiting and watching, waiting and watching, while they speed up and slow down, weaken and strengthen, veer right and loop left. Of course I thought up until the last minute that Ike would turn. Even though I was prepared, I never thought it would ever come in here. Wrong!!
Finally by Friday evening it was very apparent from the news reports that it was not going to turn. A widow lady who lives in a mobile home came to shelter with us, along with her six cats and a parrot. The parrot went to your Aunt’s house! We watched it coming in on T.V. The extent of it was the most surprising. It practically filled the Gulf of Mexico. We have friends in southeast Texas in Lake Jackson and friends in northeast Texas in Orange and the storm raged the entire state. We boarded up the three big windows in the front and put everything moveable in the garage, had our food and water in. We watched the news until about 10:00 p.m. and then went to bed. I couldn’t sleep so got up again and stayed up until a little after midnight. Shortly after I went back to bed was the end of our power for the next 72 hours. It was soooo dark with no lights on in any house or any street lights, or moon or anything. We had to use a flashlight to find our way to the bathroom.
I can’t say that the noise of the wind was that horrible. I have heard worse in Blackfoot, Idaho many nights when I was sure the house would blow off its foundation. So the noise wasn’t too bad. I slept through it until about 4:00 a.m.
Our next door neighbor, who had a tree go through his roof said that at one point he looked out the window and one of the huge pine trees in our front yard was swaying down to the ground clear across the street and the next time he looked it was swaying clear into his yard. He quit looking after that!
I got up at dawn and looked out. Wow, it was unbelievable. The hurricane was still going on. Leaves were smacked all over my windows. You couldn’t even see the back yard. It was covered with limbs, branches, leaves and debris of every kind. And the wind blowing the rain was a sight to behold.
Later it died down and we went out to survey the damage. Our house was not damaged at all and neither was your Aunt’s. However, the neighborhood looked like a war zone. There were limbs and branches everywhere. Huge, huge oak trees were down everywhere. They had crashed into houses, blocked roads, torn up sidewalks and driveways with their roots as they went down. Power and phone lines were dangling everywhere. About 40-50% of the fences were down. It was just an incredible sight.
What amazed me so much was the fact that, even as it was pouring rain people were already out starting to clean up. I felt that it was rather dangerous as limbs were still falling from trees, but there they all were. Everyone seemed to pitch in to help everyone else out. There was a huge tree blocking the road just three houses from us and our next door neighbor was right in the middle of it with his chain saw.
We hooked up an old land line phone and for a time had telephone service, but it eventually went out too and so we had no land line, no cell phone, no wireless internet, and no power. The power of course was the worst. The first night it was rather hot and humid, but early in the morning a big thunder and lightning storm came in and really cooled things off, so that helped considerably with the lack of fans or a/c. However, it also caused more flooding now that Ike had already begun. Some people had generators, but very few, and the ones that did kept running out of gas. Those generators use an amazing amount of gas. On Monday a couple of gas stations opened up and the lines were just humongous. About a three hour wait. And of course they had to get the police out there to keep everyone in line. We can’t manage ourselves, you know.
We did lose all of our food in our freezer and fridge. I said I would definitely get a generator after this, but then after seeing how much gas they take and how difficult it is to get gas I may reconsider. It was quite eerie around here during the nights without any lights. And eerie to drive past totally empty shopping centers.
The schools are closed all week. Some sustained damage, but mostly it is the fact that we have no gas for the school buses.
The Bush Intercontinental Airport sustained substantial damage. I think they are resuming flights on Wednesday. Hobby Airport also had damage. So we were pretty isolated. We couldn’t fly out, couldn’t drive out, and couldn’t call out. Your Uncle’s mom passed away and he had to drive the five hours to Dallas in order to get a flight out to California.
We were fortunate in that we did get our power back on in 72 hours. Also we did not lose our water and some of our friends did. Your Aunt who lives just two blocks from us, is still without power at this time. I don’t know why they can’t get to her.
All in all we were very blessed. It has been a tremendous clean up job, and lots of lessons learned, but none of us was hurt and no damage done to the house. The Lord blessed us greatly, and we pray for those who lost their homes or lives. We are grateful to all of you who offered prayers in our behalf.