Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Recovering After Hurricane Ike

Well, Hurricane Ike proved to be "the storm" that was predicted. We evacuated to my parents' home in Houston because they had boarded up and didn't have as many tall, old trees as we did in central Houston. It proved to be a wise decision.

When people ask me tomorrow why I still don't have electricity at my house, I think I'll just show them these photos. Apparently, our zip code (77018) was one of the hardest hit areas in Houston according to CenterPoint Energy.
The storm that hit Houston early Saturday, Sept. 13, brought 100+ mph winds, flooding and tornados. Our next-door neighbors' property was hit by a tornado (Tree Toppers - they're called). It "shared" my neighbors' trees by landing them in our yard and pool. How nice to share.
When we went to our house late on Saturday to check things out, I absolutely could not believe my eyes. We're blessed, really, because our house was not damaged, minus the laundry room taking on some water since it's the lowest point on our property. (That's what you get when you live in an old house, right?) At least a tree didn't fall on our house like it did my Grandmother's house down the street.

I couldn't even take photos of my Grandmother's house. Two trees that once held together a swing -- that my father swung on decades ago, followed by me years later -- lay on the ground. Another tree from the neighbor's yard landed on Grandmother's kitchen, bedroom and upstairs game room. The roof is now tarped. Another tree that carefully bordered the driveway toppled over, stretching across the street and reaching into another neighbor's yard. (How many times did my Grandfather warn my Grandmother not to back out of the driveway and hit that tree?)My dad had to get a Loader to push the tree across the street and into my Grandmother's yard so that traffic could get through. Thank God my Grandmother was not home when the trees came tumbling. That would have been so frightening. I'll try to get the photos that my husband took of all this to give some perspective. It certainly made me recognize the power and seriousness of these storms.
Still, I've been amazed and encouraged at how neighbors and friends have come together. People who have lived across the street since I was a child opened their doors to watch my property when I evacuated. Others brought dinner to my next-door neighbor. Even the constables in our neighborhood brought the older neighbors bags of ice. The community spirit through it all has been a good reminder to me about how our neighborhoods could be... should be. Kids play ball in the street and ride bikes as many adults clean up the branches and debris. Everyone stays close to home. Even after local restaurants gain generator power, many people just felt more comfortable being at home with family and friends that have taken refuge.
I think about the Hurricane Katrina evacuees and remind myself that I'm so lucky that I have a home and neighborhood to return to. I just hope that this camaraderie, this sincere care for people beyond my doorstep will continue.
As Judge Ed Emmett said in one of the press conferences, this storm can bring out the very best in people. Bring out the best.
Until the next nap time...