Sunday, September 21, 2008

How Shall I begin......

Quick Note: This is a neighbors house, not ours...

As we watched TV on Friday, Sept. 12th we noticed that Galveston Bay was already seeing the effects of Hurricane Ike, which was to come ashore in the wee morning hours on the 13th. High tides were bringing in water much higher than expected and beach houses were already seeing water flowing under them. As the news cameras showed waves pounding up on the seawall in Galveston, a day before the storm was to hit, it was an eerie warning of what was to come. It was becoming too late to leave the island and those that did not heed the warning were suddenly trapped with no way out. They had been warned with a mandatory evacuation, but many did not heed those warnings.

All week long I had been preparing our family for the storm. Thursday evening, we filled all of our cars, and all gas cans with gas. I washed all of the clothes in anticipation of no power for several days. We had all of our batteries and our oil lamps were prepped for the storm. We put up all of our light weight items, from the yard, so that they would not become flying projectiles and “storm” groceries were purchased. I hunted down my single burner butane stove and three canisters of butane to cook with, just in case. Everything was ready. I got a call from my brother that he would be staying at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, where he works for the duration of the storm. Both of my sisters are “sheltering in place”, just as we were. I prayed everyone would be safe.

Friday night came around and the wind started to pick up. As the evening progressed, so did the wind. Our neighbors were out in their back yard having a hurricane party. The barbeque was going and music was playing. The night progressed and the wind picked up more. At 9:00pm. we had our ham radio net and decided that we should monitor the storm and meet again at 9:00am., 4:00pm. and 9:00pm. the next day. It was eleven o’clock now and the group next door, were still partying. I wondered, how can they do this? The wind was pretty strong and I was getting really nervous. We watched TV and all the news of the storm as its outer rain bands were coming on shore. We had been told that we would get the wind first and then the rain and it was so true.

The group next door went inside and TF decided that he was going to go to bed. How can he sleep with this storm almost on top of us? Around 2:00am., our power went out. I turned on the battery powered TV to see where the storm was. Jennifer called to see if we were alright. At 3:00am. William called to see if we were alright. The rain was finally starting to fall and I wanted to go the sleep, so I lay down for a while. The phone rang again at 4:00am. and it was Jennifer checking on us again. I decided that I wasn’t going to get any sleep so I turned on the battery powered TV to see where the storm was. We were just on the west side of the eye and it had just passed us. The wind was now coming from the other side and it was getting worse. The rain was coming down harder and it was almost impossible to sleep. I kept looking out the front window to see what our next door neighbors pine trees were doing. They were swaying in the wind but they were still standing. I finally feel asleep and slept for two hours.

When the sun came up I decided to open the front door and look outside. I noticed limbs down everywhere and the rain was really falling hard now. I looked across the street and noticed that Mr. Blum’s huge pine tree had crashed into his house. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I stared at that sight. I ran to the bedroom and told TF to get up and go see if he could help Mr. Blum. He put on his pants and walked across the street to see what he could do. Bob (Mr. Blum), TF and Bonnie started to tarp the roof and at least try and keep as much water out as possible. They worked diligently for an hour before they could secure his roof from the rain. Bonnie dashed home and stripped in the entry way and ran upstairs to get a bath. TF followed and took a bath too. When our ham radio net met for the first time, we were just trying to get over the shock of all the mess outside. We made plans for our next net at noon and cleared the frequency. I stepped outside again to check out our own house for damage. There were limbs everywhere, but there was no damage to our house. Our neighbor’s fence had come down missing my car by about a foot. We have a lot of tall trees in our neighborhood and many of them were down. It looked like a war zone but without the bodies. Our water pressure was at a trickle so I decided that I could wait to take a bath. I cooked breakfast on our camp stove and the day progressed.

Noon rolled around and our next ham radio net met again. We started assessing the damage to our church members homes and worked to make a list of who needed help. The Funkes had six trees down, the Antezanna’s had two trees on the roof of their garage, the Washington’s, Schadlers, Scoggings, and many others had tree damage. Jack and Marta had a big pine tree twist off and fall right in front of their house. Many of our families had fence damage, the power was out and most had little water pressure. Cell phone towers were down so very few people had access to their phones. A lot of people had wireless phones and they didn’t work because the power was out. Those that had internet phone service were out of luck. Luckily we have a land line phone and it has worked all the way thru this mess. Our ham radio group went to work to keep communications going.

When the rain let up and the winds died down, our “chain saw gang” went to work to cut down fallen trees and limbs. Nigh time fell and it was time to rest for another days work. I trimmed the wicks on our lamp, in the den, and lit it. The flashlights went into service and the moon came out to help light our way. Since our power was out many of the ham radio operators moved to their cars for battery power for the radios. At 9:00pm. we held our last net for the day. I sat out in the car, with my flashlight, trying to do net control and take notes. We discussed what we need to do the next day and closed the net down. I was so tired that I just fell into bed.

On Monday, Bonnie and I decided to venture out into the neighborhood to see what it looked like. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw all of the trees down. I took lots of pictures. At this point our ham radio net decided to meet every three hours to ckeck in and pass “traffic”. Messages were delivered, work assignments were doled out and locations for gasoline were passed. Did I mention that gas and ice were a scarcity? We were told not to drive our cars unless it was absolutely necessary, because gas was impossible to find. Ice was a “hot” commodity and those without ice, in Houston’s heat, were out of luck. I am soooooo grateful that TF has a generator. He uses it for his business; it has been a real lifesaver for us. He runs it for two hours at a time and we have the refrigerator, freezer, computer, a small lamp and a small fan plugged into it. So many friends of mine had to throw away food from their refrigerator and freezer because they did not have power. Andy Ricker has been cooking on his grill and using his Dutch ovens to cook fabulous meals every night since the storm. He put his food, from the refrigerator, in coolers and has put ice on it daily to help it stretch until the power comes on again. Last Thursday night he cooked a large turkey in a trash can. From what I hear, it was to die for. Later I will blog on how he cooked this turkey.

Last Friday, we got word that the Champions Forest Baptist church was passing out ice, drinking water, and Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’s) to anyone who needed it. Since the church is very close to me, I decided to go over there, mainly for the ice. Those people were so nice, that I almost started to cry. I took the water and some other ice to Chris Feriante so he could deliver it to some people who needed it. We spread the word about these items on our ham radio net and people were able to go over there and get what they needed.

Just so you know: Bob hired a tree company from Conroe to come out, with a crane, and take the tree out of his house. Bonnie counted 32 neighbors who came out to watch the event. I had never seen anything like this before and it was very interesting to watch these professionals do such a difficult job….They only charged him $ 2,100.00 to do the work. Don’t gulp, that is a fair price. There have been other tree companies out in our neighborhood, charging double and triple for the same work. The Attorney General of Texas will be breathing down their backs soon for price gouging.

Did I mention that our power is still out! We have been told that it won’t be back on till AFTER, next Thursday at the earliest. Evidently a tornado went thru the neighborhood and took out some of the major power lines and poles that service our area. We have also been told to boil our water for a little while longer. Of course I didn’t find this out till I had already washed a load of “whites” and hung them out to dry in our back yard. TF strung a 100 foot long extension cord between two trees and a fence post to make me a clothes line. The water looks fine to me and I have been showering in it. We have bottled drinking water and I wash my dishes with a little bleach in the rinse water. I know that sounds “Gross”!

With all of the tree work done and most of our phone lines working now, our ham radio net has officially closed shop for “hurricane IKE relief”. We will meet again next Wednesday night for our regular schedule.

Did I mention that my cousin and his wife, who lived in Crystal Beach, near Galveston lost his house to the storm. There is nothing left of his house or his charter boat business. I am so grateful that he listened to the authorities and left the area before the storm started. He is now in Oklahoma City staying with his son. If you have been reading the papers or listening to the news, Crystal Beach was virtually wiped off of the map. Galveston is devastated, with very little to come back to. If you compare the pictures of the 1900 hurricane, with the current situation, you can see comparisons. If you have noticed, the news channels has said very little about lose of life. TF has heard some things about this and I am not going to spread rumors, but there are things that are not being told to the general public……I can not say any more.

What have I learned from this:
1) People are at their best when the chips are down. I have never seen so much communication between neighbors. People are helping complete strangers and it gives me hope.
2) Be prepared……it is a must if you live in a coastal region. Even if you live in earthquake country or areas that have ice storms, you need to be prepared.
3) Stress can take its toile on the best of people and families. Be nice to each other.
4) Be grateful for all that you have, because it can disappear in a second.
5) Pray often.

To see some of our pictures, check out TF’s blog at:

One last thought: I want to thank CenterPoint Energy for all of the work they have been doing to reconnect 2 million electric customers. They are doing an outstanding job. I also want to thank all of the city and county workers who have turned their life upside down to serve the public..... Thank you so much!


At 8:43 PM, Blogger Bruce Armstrong said...

Glad to see you back, Lucy! I knew y'all were ok because TF was posting, but it's still nice to see a new post from you. I'm printing out your Ike-related posts as an excellent example of preparing for a disaster/emergency.

At 9:10 PM, Blogger butterflygirl said...

Glad to hear you and your family are ok!

At 9:33 PM, Blogger Oh great One said...

Oh it's so good to hear from you! I started to cry reading your post as we are not so far removed from our own traumatic storm. You are right about it bringing out the best in people though I have never been so proud to be part of this neighborhood as I was during Gustav.

Take good care of yourself Lucy. You are still in my prayers.

At 9:49 PM, Blogger Jim said...

Hi Lucy, you wrote it up soooo good, when do you find time for ham radio and cooking those breakfasts.
Our lights (Entergy) came back late Wednesday night, but we were staying in Katy with our daughter who didn't lose power. She did lose TV, Internet, and phone because Comcast was down.
I might get a generator for next season, if I was back strong in ham radio I need one anyway.
Holler if you want something from up here. You could all come take a warm shower if you heat water by electricity (we do).
BTW, gas in Katy is $3.39 all over the place, it is $3.59 in the Conroe area and down your way at 1960. Is this price gouging?
I'll look at TF's pictures. Either he or you using his blog left me a comment.
T.F, Entergy is hurting big time but they did good in restoration up here. I think they had a lot of ourside help.

At 10:30 PM, Blogger Granny Annie said...

I was happy to see a post from you. Often I will only scan a very long post, but this had me on the edge of my seat and I did not miss one element of your excellent and chilling report. My, my, my what an ordeal you have witnessed and what great strength you and others have shown. I am very proud to call you a friend and thankful for your safety.

At 10:31 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

Good to see your post! What you describe reminds me a lot of what we saw after Rita, so I can very much relate to what you are going thru. We hunkered down here in Louisiana and rode it out. Water surge was unbelieveable! Very little rain with the actual hurricane. Sounds like yall were really prepared. We are hoping to host a 'Hurricane Party' to discussed what we learned, what we need to do and what others did. Next time, hope to be even more prepared. We continue to keep everyone affected by the storms in prayers.

At 10:32 PM, Blogger Susie said...

Hi Lucy,
So glad to read that you are coping in light of all you've been through. You are a lesson to all of us on the importance of emergency preparedness.

At 11:35 PM, Blogger Jess said...

What a post Lucy...I can't imagine living on the coast, but if I did...I hope that I would be as prepared as you.

I'm so happy that you guys are safe and sound. So sorry to hear about all the other damage and your electric still, but I know you are very thankful that it wasn't worse!

Lots of love nad have a good week ahead.

At 2:52 AM, Blogger Diane@Diane's Place said...

We have both Entergy and Center Point/Arkla here. We had sent crews down there to help, then when Ike roared through here they had to come back to restore power here! Some places were without power for nearly a week, but we never lost power, by God's Grace.

I hope they manage to get your power back on by Thursday. So many people will have to start over restocking their perishables and other foods.

So glad to hear that y'all are doing okay and didn't have any damage. It was a sight for sore eyes to see your email in my inbox last week, knowing that y'all were okay.

Still praying and praising God for His mercy on you and so many others, and praying for those who were less fortunate.

Love you, my friend,


At 2:57 AM, Blogger MightyMom said...

glad you're okay!

I was very worried when I read you were going to stay throught the storm.

At 10:15 AM, Blogger Rachel said...

I'm so glad to hear that you didn't have damage. Sounds like you did everything possible to be well prepared. Having the ham radio really came in handy too!

People do pull through in times like this and help each other and it's so wonderful.

Like some of the others, I was on the edge of my seat reading every word. You did so well at describing the events, I felt like I was there with you...without the sounds of course! I think those high winds would really freak me out!

At 10:31 AM, Anonymous CaraCara said...

Lucy - I too was worried about you and am so glad to hear that you, yours and so many others are ok. I was effected by the Ice Storm in 1998 that hit Ontario, Canada and a quote from an electricity company rep still sticks with me today... "We're doing our best to turn on the light at the end of the tunnel". I hope your lights come on soon. =) Cara

At 11:06 AM, Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Lucy...So glad you posted this first hand account....And I am glad you and TF came through this nightmare of a time. Your descriptions of everything are very vivid and I dearly appreciate you taking the time to tell us all this in such detail. To still have no, my, my....Well, I hope they get it back on very soon, my dear....Thank God you and TF are safe and sound.

At 2:09 PM, Blogger Putz said...

i was more worried about you than all those people above me who blogged to you, because i din't know t.j. was still blogging and you had no comments anywhere, nor did you updates us when i expected word from you, so this post is the first news i have got of you, i did hear from jim first saying he had lights....weelll us in utar made it through the hurrican ok, had 70's weather, no wind, no rain

At 5:01 PM, Blogger Eve said...

I'm glad you prepared and because of that, you are having a much easier time than those who have no generator or stored food.
Reading all this brings back all my memeories of Katrina. We left and came back to our home gone. I had stored all the food and water, and other emergency things but they were under our house and we couldn't get to them.
It was such a blessed day, the day power was restored to our neighborhood. We had to live in an old RV in the driveway and even with a generator, gas was hard to find. I will keep you all in my prayers for a quick restoration of "normal" lives.

At 5:39 PM, Blogger Fred said...

Wow...I am so glad everything is okay with you. I was extremely worried knowing what hurricanes can do as they move inland.

The ham radio is such a good idea. When the cell phone towers get wiped out, it really becomes a problem.

Knowing that Ike would hit somewhere, I started taping TV news clips on September. I just finished the video and will post it soon.

Whew! Let's hope it's a long time before this happens again.

At 9:09 PM, Blogger Big Dave T said...

I thought about you and Ike often. Kept checking here to make sure you were okay. Although we were on vacation, we felt Ike's wrath here in Michigan as the price of gas spiked above $4. Some stations were charging $5 a gallon (talk about price gouging!)

At 10:00 PM, Blogger Mountain Mama said...

What a horrifying experience. Thank God you are safe. I think I'd want to relocate.

At 10:34 PM, Blogger Cliff said...

I am so pleased to hear that you will survive and eventually flourish once again.
A wonderful write up for sure. Thanks a whole bunch.

At 8:45 AM, Blogger Jim said...

Hi Lucy, yes, and Mrs. Jim doesn't have a blog for publiicty. I do intend to tell about Katrin some more pretty soon.

I'm glad you got power back. Can you imagine those Galveston residents who are just returning this morning?
A lot don't really know whether they will be able to stay or live on the main land until they survey what is left for them at home.
Most don't have utilities as they are all turned off and require inspection before anything gets turned back on.
The news said that there were over 17,000 gas meters identified for replacement.
I put this answer below your comment this morning.
I haven't even turned on the Ham radios to see what all is going on. I doubt that I could pick up you guys down there or I might have tried.
It is good that you can start getting back to regular life. Aren't you glad you had saved up for things like (really for a lot worse) this. Or did you save those for anything worse which could be imminent?

At 10:25 AM, Blogger Oh great One said...

I was happy to hear you have your power back. What a relief that is. A little closer to normal. Take care!

At 8:14 AM, Blogger Leslie said...

Glad you're okay. We evacuated since there was a mandatory evac. Surfside, just 10 minutes from me, is ripped apart something fierce. Blue Water Highway (Surfside to Galveston) is washed away. Lake Jackson looks like Satan threw up here. But at least I have power. My refrigerator cleaning was the worst for me. I think I had a protective bubble over my home.

At 9:07 AM, Blogger Leslie said...

Not Galveston -- Dad lives in Waco, which is where we evacuated. Nice visit. They have a HEB Plus and a Books-A-Million!! I wish we had such great places to shop here in Lake Jackson.

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Jamie Dawn said...

I know from previous post that your electricity is back on. I'm SO glad!!
It is great that you had a generator to keep some things running.
How wonderful that a nearby church was handing out ice and meals. I'm sure many churches reached out and ministered to the needs of people.
That is truly a hands on blessing to the community.
Downed trees are always a fear during storms with high winds. I am so glad you are okay and recovering from the havoc of Ike.


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