My head is still spinning from the insanity that is Houston right now, but I'm back and we're in extremely good shape after this whole hurricane incident. We still don't have internet/cable/phone at the house, but we have POWER! We were some of the really lucky ones who got power back (please Houston friends, don't kill me) SUNDAY AFTERNOON. And I don't mean Sunday the 21st, I mean Sunday the 14th.
And yes, we had house guests. And yes, we invited everyone we knew up to the house if they wanted to come bask in the glow of the halogen lights in our kitchen. So we weren't being power hoarders. But we were freaking lucky.
Rewind to the week of the 8th.
The news and weather forecasts were getting increasingly more paranoid due to Ike heading towards the Gulf. We watched, mildly interested, but not making any plans to actually DO anything. Should we go grocery shopping? Nah, we have some bottled water in the pantry. Should we get more batteries? Nah, our flashlights are fine. What about boarding the windows, SK? Are you going to help, Cheryl? Oh right, about that...um, yeah, we don't have trees in the backyard. I think we'll be ok.
Mayor Bill White told everyone to stay home from work if at all possible on Friday--only emergency responder teams should be on the roads. The storm wasn't supposed to hit until late Friday night, early Saturday morning, but people were leaving town and the highways were getting packed. We got a memo from our building managers letting us know our office building would be closed Friday/Saturday due to the risk of losing power and water. I'm not even going to get into the issues I dealt with at work due to Ike, but let's just say that more than once during the whole experience, I called some co-workers some not so nice names and seriously considered just walking out of my office and telling the world of IT to kiss my ass, I am so done with you, just go the hell away already. I worked from home on Friday morning.
SK and I finally got in gear Friday afternoon and filled up the bathtub with water (just in case), threw the patio furniture into the pool, stowed the grill in the garage, and ran out to the gas station to fill up my car and to get the essentials - beer, cigarettes and some Cup 'O Noodles. Hee. I know, I know! We were SO unprepared.
And here is where we show we are complete brain-trusts: We figured that the power would go out, but didn't think it would be out for long. It didn't occur to us that along with power being out, our ice maker wouldn't work. Also, lights and TVs and radios? That all are powered by Ambit Energy and NOT batteries? Yeah...didn't think about that stuff not working when the electricity wasn't, either. I figured we could cook things on the grill, since it's hooked to a propane tank (we ran out of propane before the storm even started...). As I've mentioned before--I've never been through an actual hurricane. The storms here can be bad, but they're not ever THAT bad and I guess I just didn't really expect it to be terrible.
Oh, but it was. OMFG, it was.
It started getting windy about 10pm on Friday. It was nice. Sort of cooling, making my hair fly around my face, and making the leaves swish around on their branches. By 2am Saturday, the wind was so frickin' loud and was shaking the windows so hard, it sounded like a train was coming through our living room. Amazingly, I slept through much of it (no doubt aided by the many beers I consumed earlier that afternoon - hello, Hurricane Party!), but woke up a few times terrified out of my mind that at any moment a tree branch was going to snap off the massive pine behind our neighbor's fence (why didn't I notice that earlier?!) and fly, torpedo-style, through our bedroom window and crush me in my bed. I also was too tired (read: drunk) to be bothered to move into the closet.
SK was up for a while in the middle of all of it, pacing through the house and making sure that nothing major happened, or at least that someone responsible (read: not drunk) was awake to deal with it. Toby was asleep in the guest room, head right below a window that faced a fence that could have easily smashed through the glass. I think at some point, he had the sense to turn around on the bed and throw the covers over himself so that should a large chunk of wood come at him in the night, he would be protected.
We're such good hosts.
We all woke up the next morning about 8:30am to a ridiculously hot house. Our fence was standing. There was one tree in the front yard that was bent sideways, away from the house, but other than that, we were all good. We dodged a major bullet. However, it was still raining, the power was out, we had a leak in the A/C vent in the master bathroom, and the dog wouldn't go outside to pee. What to do? Bust out Risk and Bloody Marys, of course! We played board games by candlelight and drank what was left in the fridge before falling asleep again at 1. One of the two flashlights we own was running low, and I was beginning to get really pissed at myself for not preparing better. We woke up around 5 and decided to drive over to my parent's house since cell phones weren't working and I wanted to make sure they were--you know--ALIVE, thinking we'd get to check out some fallen trees and maybe flooded ditches.
Holy Mother of God.
Spring looked like a war zone. We sat in the car, silent, as we weaved around uprooted 60 ft. tall pine trees, swerved out of the way of fallen power poles, and watched people walking around dazed, looking at their destroyed yards, broken fences and torn up roofs, not sure where to start the clean-up effort. Entire rows of trees were all broken and had fallen at the exact same angle, making them look like a broken line of sticks in a matchbook. No flooding up where we were, just complete destruction from the wind. It was surreal.
We made it to my parent's house and found that not only had my dad started drinking before we did that morning (7:30am), he had not taken a nap, proving once and for all how much of a badass my father is, and also making my family look like a bunch of drunks, which we are not. Ike changed the rules. Day-drinking after a massive catastrophe is acceptable.
No major damage to their house. Their power stayed out a few days longer than ours did, but their neighbor had a generator, so they didn't lose everything in their fridge. SK's parent's were without power about as long (or maybe a day longer) as mine were, but Deb and Wil and baby Ryan got power back Sunday like we did, which is awesome because hot house + no generator = miserable time for anyone, but especially for parents with small child.
Since we were without power and didn't have a radio, don't get the paper, and were without cable, we really had no clue how bad it was outside of Spring. Before I went back to work and had access to the internet, everything I knew about the storm and the days following came from people who had been to different areas of town, or who had heard from friends. Made me feel like I had traveled back in time. Have any of you ever seen Jericho? I know that comparing this to a nuclear war might seem, oh, I don't know, a bit INSANE? Dramatic, maybe? I'm just trying to make a point here. But really, the way the people in Jericho were cut off from the world and had to hear about how things were outside of their town, that's how I felt in the first few days after Ike.
Things are FINALLY getting back to normal around here, which means that my cell phone works again and even though my 60 mile round-trip drive to and from work now sucks 3 hours (!!!) of my life away every day, I am grateful that we came out of this so untouched. There are many people that did not and I can't even imagine how they must be feeling right now. Traffic lights are still out all over the place, stores are open but many still don't have air conditioners working, the grocery stores are back to stocked, and the hum of generators still can be heard throughout parts of the city, but things are getting better. For some, "normal" will be changed forever, and their lives will be forced to make a drastic left when they thought their next turn would be right. And I am reminded again how lucky we were. Are.
Thanks to those of you that have checked up on me. I've missed you all ;). I've also neglected to turn in 2 homework assignments from Miss Kathy, and have missed out participating in the Friday Foto Fun that I so love. I'll be back to normal again next week. For now, it's time to gear up for my ridiculously long drive home and enjoy a weekend of pretty weather and a VERY strong drink. Or 7.