Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hurricane Ike's Aftermath in Houston

Hurricane Ike swept into Houston early Saturday morning a little after 1:00 am. Before it swept in, I taped up the windows and moved the furniture away from the windows in my home. I called up all of my friends to make sure they were prepared, gassed up the car, and made some last minute shopping for supplies. That Friday evening I stayed over at a friends home which is approximately three miles from downtown Houston. So yes, we were in the direct path of Hurricane Ike, though not in the mandatory evacuation zones. My friend and I made some gumbo, had a couple of friends over and chatted up the evening until it got dark. We then stayed up until the power went out at midnight. He crashed to his bed and I fell sound asleep on the couch in the living room. 3:00 am came around when I noticed my buddy was moving restlessly about in the living room looking out the window. I got up and stared out the window and noticed the neighbors tree splintered in two. It was very windy and the rain was everywhere. The whole neighborhood was without power. It was an awesome display of force outside. Eventually I moved to the hallway because I wasn't comfortable sleeping underneath the main window of the living room. I slept very well. 8:00 am came around as the neighbor next door was banging the walls of my buddy's home. That was enough to wake me up. I went outside and surveyed the damage. It was still a bit windy and drizzling just a little bit. We saw no significant damage anywhere. Lot's of torn tree branches and some metallic siding sprawling here and there, but nothing that couldn't be cleaned up by the end of the day. Throughout the day we were texting all of our friends. With the exception of one friend, everyone reported that they made it through the night unscathed. The common denominator amongst all of us was that we had no power. Later we found out that 2.2 million (customers) Houstonians, or 99% of the city was without power. After munching on a snack I went against the city advisory of driving around. I first returned to my home, put all the furniture back, and took off the tape from the windows. Then I visited all of my friends to see if they needed any assistance. What I noticed as I was driving up and down the side streets of Houston were neighbor helping neighbor cleaning up the streets. Clearing the gutters of debris and chopping down half splintered trees. The most severe damage I saw was a van nearly crumpled into a ball by a fallen tree. The news reports thus far have not reported any fatalities, but we were aware of the not so smart residents of Galveston that stayed behind. They were told of a mandatory evacuation at least 48 hours prior to Hurricane Ike hitting the island and surrounding Texas mainland coast. Even up until the power went out my buddy and I watched in disbelief as many Galveston residents were hamming it up for the television crews on the local news programs. 24 hours prior to landfall the waters were noticeably rising and still many residents, up to 40 % of Galveston residents, made a clear and conscious decision to remain at home. I'm a Christian so this is difficult for me to say but that is a very foolish decision to make. To stay behind after the mayor tells you to leave. Even when the birds and land animals begin moving en mass further inland with rising waters 24 hours before landfall, you have got to be nuts for not moving out of Galveston prior to Hurricane Ike hitting. Yes, they have their free will and own mind to decide to remain behind. But what about the lives of local, state, and federal emergency crews that risk their own lives to come in and save these foolish and obtuse residents of Galveston. It is simply mind boggling. None of my friends are with power and only one local news station, 740 AM, is broadcasting. So far all I have heard is that many buildings in downtown Houston and the medical center near Rice are fully functioning and operational with electrical power. The day was coming quickly to an end as my friends and I were sharing stories and cleaning up the yards of tree branches and other debris. I decided to drive down to Corpus Christi to spend a day or two before returning back to Houston. That is why I am able to post tonight, I am in my friends home here in Corpus Christi, Texas (a four hour drive south of Houston). I am also breaking my month long silence to submit this special blog posting and will return to abstaining from blogging for the remainder of the month of September. Please keep the residents, emergency workers, volunteers, and others that are in Houston and Galveston in your prayers as we begin cleaning up this great American city. God bless us all. In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph, Tito

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