I survived hurricane Ike and all I got was this lousy blog post.
But I think the devastation wrought on the Gulf Coast last weekend deserves more than a flippant opening. It deserves a more thoughtful sort of commentary, especially since so many in the area are still suffering. Especially since that suffering is not about to go away.
Instead, I'm going to talk about some of the things I learned from my first true hurricane experience.
1. Family is precious. I spent my sleepless hours before and during the storm texting weather updates to my parents. (This will be the one and only time I ever thank AT&T because I never lost cell service.)
2. Friends are also precious. Although my apartment wasn't in an evacuated zone, I fled to my dear friend's home in Katy on Thursday night. She and her husband and two kids fed and sheltered me until my apartment regained power and water on Monday night.
3. There is strength in numbers. I wasn't their only refugee. On Sunday night, their home hosted a dinner including me, my friend, her husband, their two kids, her mother- and father-in-law, two of their close friends who have three kids of their own. It was a ... rambunctious (and relief-filled) night.
4. Mother Nature always wins. No matter how hard you plan, how safe you think you are, she will always toss you something completely unexpected. Like a Category 2 storm with a Category 4 storm surge. Every time we try to classify or outwit her, she proves her power.
5. The past was not romantic. It was dark, dank and sweaty. After only 22 hours without power, my friend and I were whining like we'd just crossed the Prairie in a wagon train. (Although I bet those women never complained about anything.) Just imagine the families that are still without power. And those who will not be getting power for up to a month or more.
6. Infrastructure is amazing. The city of Houston, Harris County, and the surrounding cities and counties seem to be doing a terrific job of coordinating relief and recovery efforts. FEMA PODs (Points of Distribution) seem to be up and running with moderate wait times. Power is slowly but surely returning to the 2.3 million customers who were cut off in the storm. Debris removal is underway in critical areas. Rescues continue. Government (like people) may not be perfect, but it can be comforting in a time of crisis.
7. Fear blooms in the absence of knowledge. I fled to my friend's house a day early because my internet (my main connection to the outside world) started acting up. 24-hour coverage on local channels as well as simulcasting on radio for those who lost power was a godsend in the dark of the storm. Listening KHOU and KRBE on my emergency weather radio kept me sane that night.
8. Battered but not beaten. The Texas Gulf Coast took a catastrophic hit in the early hours of Saturday, September 13. But the Texas spirit lives. Life goes on. My friend's baby turned one on Saturday. His first birthday party had to be postponed because of the storm. Instead, our little household joined the neighboring family for an air-conditioned celebration at a miraculously open restaurant. An $8.99 cake from Kroger's and an all-you-can-eat buffet may not have been his mom's idea of an ideal birthday, but we were safe, we were with friends, and we made the most of what we had. There will be a lot of that going on in the coming weeks.
[Photos in this post taken from the Houston Chronicle]
Want to help? The Red Cross is operating shelters and provides a registration service, Safe and Well, that allows family members to tell their loved ones they are okay. Donations to the Greater Houston Red Cross will be put to good use.
Want to learn more? Check out the Houston Chronicle and the KHOU websites.
Hugs, luck and love,
OH. MY. GODS. (available now!)
GODDESS BOOT CAMP (coming June 2009)