The Aftermath (and I flunked math)

This is going to come as absolutely no news to anyone, but man… that was the antithesis of fun.

We should start with us losing power at about 7:00pm, long before any wind or rain showed up. Now, I must admit: the power came back, and stayed until the time I predicted it would vanish, at about midnight, just as the first official winds were starting to batter Galveston Island.

As I think I mentioned, this was my first hurricane since Alicia, back in ’83, and I could easily go another 25 years without another one. In ’83, I didn’t have a family, and trying to be a calm, strong influence in the noisy dark is… a little wearing. I’m not sure if I’m good at that, but I tried.

My new battery-powered radio worked like a champ. I had used the time with power to tune in a TV simulcast for Channel 11, which had gone into DOOOOM overdrive several days before (My wife and her best pal Ronnie the Crazy Cat Lady are still pissed at Big Brother being pre-empted Thursday night). This was the only to track the storm’s progress, and I was glad to have it, and all schadenfreude was put on hold whenever KHOU or the radio station took a hit to their power, and I had to find another station.

About 2am we had the first of the Noises, with a capital N. That was the siding being ripped off the side of my house and tumbling over the roof.

The storm had shifted enough to the east that we never saw the eye, and we were on what is euphemistically referred to as the “clean” side of the hurricane. The only clue we had that the eye was passing to our east was the change of direction in the wind.

At about 4:30, we had the second noise. We didn’t know it at the time, but that was a giant hand reaching down from the heavens and applying a purple nurple to the large chinaberry tree in our back yard. The poor thing shattered, and missed our house by literal inches. In fact, leaves from one of the upper boughs were pressed against one of our windows.

Our neighbors didn’t do so well. The tree took out their satellite dish, and the offending branch is still on their roof. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

As the sun came out, Ike was winding down in my part of the world. Ronnie – who is our neighbor – came over to check on us. I looked out our back window and went Damn…. And I eventually crawled into bed at almost 8am and drifted into exhausted sleep in our stifling bedroom.

That was interrupted – as it would be interrupted several times throughout the day – by people banging on the door to check on us and oooh and aaah at our shattered tree. We had the dubious honor of having the most damaged tree in our neighborhood.

Lisa went to check on the private school she runs and, miracle of miracles, it had power. We moved in, with Ronnie in tow, and microwaved some thawing TV dinners and watched a couple of movies that had nothing to do with hurricanes. I got a few hours of sleep… but was awake when another rainstorm came through at about 4:30am, killing the power there, too, and confirming my suspicions that God hates me. No, that confirmation actually came through at 4:45, when I was in the bathroom and my Mini-Mag-Lite’s bulb gave up the ghost.

After the rain let up, about 10:00am, we went back to our houses and started to clean up. It was the first time I had a chance to actually contemplate the fallen tree.

Here’s the same picture with my bulk added for scale:

After three hours with my cutters, bow saw and a borrowed chainsaw that gave up the ghost rather than deal with anymore of this, I was forced to give up. This was way above my abilities, even if I were a younger man with an uninjured back and legs and no health problems.

That was a hell of a blow to an already bruised ego. But I have to be rational about this: I could keep on whacking at it, but it wouldn’t be safe. This is no time for enthusiastic amateurs.

So we took showers – thankfully, the water pressure remained constant here in the hinterlands – and returned to the school, where the industrial-grade insulation stood a better chance of retaining some cool from the previous evening’s air conditioning. There was some recovery evident: about half the traffic lights were working, and some businesses on the main drag had power. Anything with food prep abilities were doing great business, including my beloved Tornado Burger. I didn’t even order the Spicy Burger, I was so happy. After 36 hours of Pop Tarts and Doritos, this was, and I do not exaggerate, heavenly.

As we sat out front of the school, enjoying the cool front that had pushed that early morning rain ahead of it (a small mercy shown to a city without power)… the power suddenly came back. Max was overjoyed to discover that cable and Internet had returned, too. (I may have to reconsider this whole grudge-holding Deity thing) The school uses Comcast for such things, and their phones, too, which was a blessing, as regular phone service and cell service had been nonexistent for some time. I had managed to send out some text messages, but it’s not the same as hearing voices.

I didn’t have much choice, I actually managed to sleep six hours, almost straight through – a near record for me, lately. Power was restored back at the house at about Noon on Monday, and we moved back, and started cleaning out the spoiled food in the refrigerator. Some of the meat in the freezer was actually still half-frozen and we went into an orgy of cooking.

About this time, I started shaking uncontrollably; the last few days had finally caught up with me. We checked my sugars, and they were normal, but the blood pressure… ah, jeez. I was riding for a stroke. I was ordered to bed, and I wasn’t about to argue. Stitches were creeping up my side, and I recognized the early signs of bronchitis. Just what we needed.

So here I sit, on Tuesday morning. I feel somewhat better. We await the call from our insurance adjuster, I have actually taken the plunge and gotten a Facebook account, since it’s very hard for me to reconcile my geek cred with a most un-geeklike wife who has a Facebook page and a Crackberry, while I just have a Bluetooth headset and a Nintendo DS. The world is totally out of whack, and I expect to see Rod Serling smoking a cigarette in the corner at any moment.

Well, that was my weekend. How are things in your town?


  1. Want some leftover warfarin? My doctor just took me off it.

  2. Very nice to hear that you rode through the maelstrom with minimal damage. Life and limb are more important than internet, after all.

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