Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I Like Ike (Eisenhower campaign slogan) - NOT!!

Friday was pretty boring. Once we got everything ready we just sort of sat and waited. We expected rain and wind to start around 2 or so but when we went to bed at 11, there still was nothing.

The wind and rain started around 3 a.m. Saturday and never let up until the next afternoon. We had about 12 hours of hurricane and tropical storm force winds. At 6:30 a.m. the power went off. The click, click, click of everything going off woke me; Ted’s CPAP machine stopping woke him.

There was nothing to do but watch the trees sway to and fro (fro is better), look at the leaves plastered on the windows and listen to the woo, woo, woo of the wind like a freight train that went nowhere. It stayed in the side yard the whole time. We got about 12 inches of rain, most of it coming sideways.

By late afternoon the rain stopped and we went out to meet our neighbors and assess the damage. Our little court was pretty much spared but Foxbriar Forest Drive was a real mess. Trees blocked the street, houses had roof damage and fences were crushed under the weight of other fallen trees.

Ike came on shore at Galveston (I-45, exit 1) and pretty much followed the interstate all the way north, with the eye passing 20 miles to the east of us (we live two miles from I-45 Exit 79) until Rusk and Palestine where it veered to the northeast. We had three radios, a 5 inch B&W TV, four different lights plus candles and matches. What we didn’t have enough of was ice. The stores were out of ice on Friday and it became apparent early on that what we had was not going to last long. I had minimal things in the refrigerator but the jars of condiments, salad dressings, jellies, etc. that fill the door were going to end up in the garbage. We had bottled water and the grill with a side burner to cook on.

Terry & Carol lost shingles off the house they have for sale and there were a couple of leaks inside. There was also a small leak in their new roof. What was scary for them were the storm sewers clogging up and the water rising to within feet of their front door. Terry and the neighbors had to wade knee deep in water up and down the street to remove debris.

At first we had land line phones but no cell service. Then the land line went down. The next day it came back on and then went down again. I would receive voicemails but was unable to call myself to retrieve them. Every once in awhile my cell would ring. I was unable to call out. I received text messages but couldn’t send them. Once the land line went down I was at Kara’s mercy. She would keep calling my cell until she got through and then would call whomever I asked or retrieved info for me with her other phone.

The most irritating thing was listening to the radio and have them give you phone numbers to call and websites to access. They said this right after telling us that 99% of customers were without power and would be for up to FOUR WEEKS. If I could phone or look online, I wouldn’t have been listening to her on a portable radio!

We cleaned up the branches and leaves from the yard, grilled some hot dogs for dinner and went into the mostly dark house to watch the tiny TV. All that was on was Ike news and after awhile it was just the same thing over and over. No one had any real useful news.

With no A/C and no CPAP for Ted, neither of us slept very well. And it rained another seven inches over night. All the trees that were soaked from Ike, gave way by Saturday morning. So now we had a tree arched over the end of our street. Ted had gone out looking for ice and to check the RV. He cleared under the tree bridge by about two inches when he came home. The storage area electric gate had been hand cranked open so we could get the RV out. Once again Kara called the campgrounds to the west of home and found us a spot in Hempstead, TX, about an hour from home.

We gathered up some clothes and what food we had and took off. While driving west, the damage got less and less and as we came to gas stations with gas, the lines were along the shoulder at least 50 cars deep. We were at Hempstead before we found businesses open.

We set up, turned on the air and I put everything away. Eventually I made meatballs and spaghetti because it was thawed. Ted was happy to have his recliner, a 27 inch color TV to watch football and the A/C running. We have no idea how long we’ll be here. I hope we’re not at the end of that four week prediction.

The devastation to Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula is terrible. Even though there was a mandatory evacuation and buses to take you to shelters, 40% of residents stayed. So the first responders were doing rescues instead of organizing the help that was needed by everyone. I guess mandatory in my dictionary is different from those people.

Ted’s back tests are in limbo. The radiologist didn’t dictate the full report or the transcriptionist didn’t transcribe it all. Either way, our doctor called that to their attention and asked it be complete by the next day. He also told Ted he knew that Dr. Shedden the neurosurgeon was to receive a copy. Well everything has been chaotic since then so we have no idea of just what has been done by whom and when. I have been unable to reach either doctor because of the phone and electricity situation. His back is still bothering him and when his six hours are up for medicine he can feel it is time for another dose. We want to get this taken care of as soon as we can.

I want to thank all who called or tried to call to check on us. We’ve received calls from Greenwich, CT to Portland, OR and spots in between. We are glad to report that the house weathered the storm terrifically and now that we have electric, we’re going to be OK too even if we have to live in the RV for a month.

Here is a picture of the bridge we take south into The Woodlands. It is normally dry and a small creek behind some houses down the street from us empties into it when it does rain. In the middle of the picture are telephone poles that should be high and dry. I was going to take a picture of Ted driving us out under the tree bridge but someone had a chainsaw and had it cut up by the time we left.

Monday morning we received a call from the HitchHiker Wagonmaster and were asked to help them determine the feasibility of having the Rally as scheduled 10/3-10. Since we had a full tank of diesel we took off for Montgomery, TX. Here is a Shell gas station’s canopy that came down. We passed some distribution centers where water, ice and MREs were being given out.

The Rally has been cancelled because Entergy is staged at Haven’s Landing and they expect to be there through the end of October. The workers are sleeping on cots in their rally hall that is air conditioned using a generator. A dining tent for them had also been erected. The campground had no electric or water when we arrived. We met with the Events Manager and then were able to get Delores from HitchHiker on our cell phone and they made the decision to cancel.

We’ve traveled to Shawnee, OK and Sedalia, MO for past HitchHiker Rallies and were so happy this year’s was 15 miles from home. And now it’s cancelled! Next year is Sparta, IL but Delores indicated they would consider Texas for 2010.

Things are getting under control and I hope the national news is reporting that. This is a huge undertaking and there are going to be problems. Some people think the government has a magic wand that will make it all better. If people had evacuated when told to there wouldn't be such horrible conditions in some places right now. Dealing with no electricity is a burden for everyone regardless of what else happened. I heard a woman on TV who did not evacuate Galveston complain NOW that there are no buses to take her out. Why wasn't she on the ones they sent BEFORE the storm. I'm a mean spirited Republican I guess. People make bad decisions and then it's everyone else's duty to fix the problem for them. That makes it hard on everyone else.

We are safe and comfortable, able to use wi-fi at Hempstead's library and have friends who live just a few miles down the road and we are going there for a visit. I thank God for the solution for our situation. But enough with the hurricanes, God, OK?

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