Thursday, September 18, 2008

24 Hours in Houston

On Tuesday morning at 5 am, my husband and I (and a friend) headed back to Houston. I hadn't wanted to post this on the blog before (security reasons) but my husband had been out of town when Ike hit and that was one reason I didn't want to stay home with just Alexandra and myself.

Anyway, we had to go by Bush airport to get their cars and then head we headed back to our house. I was surprised by quite a few things. First of all, electricity was out even 100 miles north of Houston! And, anytime we did pass a gas station, there were TONS of cars in line. They said the wait was taking 1 to 2 hours at the pumps. Also, I was surprised not to see a lot of damage - just a few signs which were torn up, LOTS of baby trees bent over, and every once in awhile you'd see a roof damaged or a few utility poles down.

We'd been told what to expect when we got to our neighborhood, but it was still a surprise. Lots of fences down. Lots of limbs down. Some trees down. TONS of "green" debris all over the lawns of those who hadn't cleaned up yet (like us) or piled in tall piles and bags of those who had cleaned.

Our yard wansn't as bad as expected. We lost the fence on 2 sides, but some neighbors had already lifted one up and "patched" it for now. The other one had damaged several bushes, but they might survive. The pool was NASTY and our neighbors had already cleaned it some.

It was neat to see so many neighbors out. We talked to some and they updated us on what had been going on. Our neighbors had even been having cook outs some nights! They whole neighborhood is just really becoming so much more neighborly through this ordeal!

Then, we had a quick snack, changed clothes, and got to work. (I did take photos, but I don't have the cord to download them so I'll have to do that later.)

We started on the freezer in the garage. Yikes! What a stink! I told my husband it smelled like dead animal... and he said it was! Uh... of course. Anyway, we were thankful there was only a small leak as I was afraid a lot of our stuff on that crowded side of the garage would have been ruined, but it wasn't. We got it cleaned out and then did the same with the refrigerator which wasn't nearly as bad. Some chocolate ice cream had leaked and the ice maker had leaked but a neighbor had put down some beach towels for us.

After that, we went outside and worked on proping the other fence back up. That was a LOT of back-wrenching work. I'm sure it took more than an hour, but we got it put back up and the gate will actually work now.

Then, my husband trimmed some broken branches while I dragged limbs to the curb and raked and bagged small limbs, leaves, pine needles, and pine cones. This took hours and I was aching afterwards. All together, we worked from about 11 - 5:30 pm.

Then, we went to look at our plane - and part of our part of town. It was so strange to see NO power anywhere! We saw more damage - some roofs, lots of fences, some trees, a few windows... but nothing too bad. At our little airport, most of the north facing hangars near ours were damaged... the planes, too. But, ours faces south and was unhurt.

We then visited some friends at the back of our neighborhood. They had just gotten power back on! And, so had part of the neighborhood next to us. (But, we are still without power.) They are the ones who had a tree fall between their house and their neighbors. It had already been removed. In their backyard, though, was a huge pine tree which fell away from their house. Thankfully, their neighbor's pine trees had "caught" it and it didn't hit their house. And, thankfully it didn't hit our friends house, either. It was a huge, heavy tree!

After that, we went home for dinner. I was aching and took some Tylenol and let my husband cook dinner. He warmed himself a can of soup on our gas stove and made me some Ramen noodles. It was funny that by now it was getting dark and he had to use a flashlight to see if the water was boiling. We ate our soups and some crackers and I had a little container of pineapples.

Then, it was getting pretty dark and it was almost 8 pm. We called Alexandra (our phones had started working a few hours before this) and I almost fell asleep talking to her. (We'd been up since 5 am and done a lot of hard work). I'd planned to read with my little book lamp, but I fell asleep about 8:15. A little while later, we heard a knock on the door. My husband went and answered it and it was our friend who'd gotten power back with 2 fans that RUN ON BATTERIES! I've never heard of such a thing, but we were SO grateful. The breeze felt great even though we are having unusually cool temps and low humidity for Houston.

I woke up around 8 am (yes, 12 hours of sleep!) and went downstairs and had some breakfast - a granola bar, a Little Debbie's oatmeal cream pie, and a juice box. :-) Then, I washed the dishes from last night - with no garbage disposal, I had to pour out the food we hadn't eaten - and picked up the towels that had been lying around the house where the fridge had leaked. Then, I swept and mopped the kitchen/dining area.

After my shower, I put my hair up in a pony tail (no hair dryer, so can't fix my hair) and sat on a bed with a mirror to put on makeup. Then, I loaded up some things to head back to Dallas.

My husband went in to work with a skeleton crew to see what they could do. They got power back early in the afternoon and the IT guys were busy getting everything up and running. Those who could make it will be back at work this morning.

Now, we're just waiting for the electricity to come back on so we can go home. By next Wednesday, they only expect to have 60-75% of the Houston area with power! I know ours is "expected" to be on any where from tomorrow (Friday) to Tuesday. We'll see!

In the meantime, I'm praising God for His hand of protection on so many of us. I'm praising Him for cooler weather and for all the workers and volunteers who are helping our area out. And, praising Him that Galveston wasn't hurt as bad as expected.

In the midst of this, I didn't realize how many other areas around the US had been hit. My prayers are with you all, too, as you recover from Ike and power outages, etc. Again, thanks for your prayers, too!


Michelle said...

Wow. I"m so thankful you are all safe, and didn't have massive damage, but still you have a lot of work and clean up to do. I"m sorry about that and wish somehow I could be there to help all of you dealing with this.

Carrie Thompson said...

Isnt amazing the people who are still without power!!! My sisters is put on the no date zip code list! Hey fans that run on batteries, we will have to look into that. My bil bought two window units that he is "leaving in the box" in case he doesnt use them. He can run them off his generator! It is supposed to get hot again next week! If you need a cool place yall can come down here! I guess the nature sand castle thing at Galveston is off for a while!!!

Teresa said...

May God continue to give you strength. I am glad that your house is OK and that you are all safe. God Bless

Sonia said...

Having been through 2 hurricanes in 2004 (FL), I can identify with what you're dealing with. We had no power for a week after BOTH hurricanes (a month apart). Lots of cleanup, and we had to boil water for 3 days for the first one. Our pool was nasty too.

I'm glad you were safe from the storm, esp. w/o your hubby...been there too. :-) Hope your power is restored soon.

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