Ike, You Bastard
Despite ferocious wishing and fervent prayers, Ike still decided to slam into Galveston and Houston and a large part of Southeast Texas. Destruction was widespread.
Including at the Houston Press, which was flooded and without power even after much of downtown got back online. Apparently a drain clogged on the roof, water backed up to the height of four feet and at that point it commenced to rain throughout the building. On all the electronics, the notes, the CDs — you get the picture. A perfect storm of bad dumb luck. So as we put this together, there is only the most basic stuff to offer. But we've got plenty of pictures, and if there's one thing hurricanes are good for, it's dramatic pictures.
Highlight moments from the Storm:
Heights Ups and Downs
It took only 17 hours from the time the lights went out Friday night in the Heights on Bayland Avenue for power to come back on. And all of sudden it flipped from hurricane hell to Mardi Gras. People were whooping and cheering and high-fiving their neighbors. On Saturday and Sunday nights, neighbors hosted parties and basked in the glow of their chandeliers and A/C. Listening to the general suffering in Houston on the radio, this little corner of the city felt pretty good.
How do we know all this? Well, virtually every home on the street got power except for me and my neighbor. Every celebratory glass of wine carried past our house was rubbing in the fact that we were almost the only ones on the block sweating it out with the rest of the city and counting the seconds until the last cube of ice melted and the final slice of bread disappeared into our stomachs.
Ugh. — Chris Vogel
One of the places Centerpoint Energy crews — brought into the city to get the power back on — were overnighting was at the Hilton Hotel Americas downtown. A command desk was set up at the front of the delightfully air-conditioned hotel. Families were also pouring in to fill up the pricey rooms. A limited buffet was offered — deli meats and salad — at the unlimited price of $17 a person.
Meanwhile, on a ride up the elevator, a mom with her two rambunctious boys got on. She looked fondly at them and said, "When we get to the room, there's going to be showers. Y'all smell like outdoor puppies." — Margaret Downing
Annoyance in Westbury
Much of the Westbury area, like the rest of the Houston area, was full of fallen trees in the aftermath of Ike.
Personally speaking, the Connelly family came through Ike all right — a corrugated-metal canopy in the backyard collapsed, some siding flew off from the house, but that was about it. No trees fell on the house (indeed, most of the downed neighborhood trees seemed to miss houses), and my wife and kid even managed to sleep through the worst.
But then there was the pool.
I'd drained it before Ike, and managed to drain just barely enough. As we checked things out Saturday, water was lapping at the very edge of the top.
With power out, there was only one way to go — a bucket brigade. My kid and I grabbed some buckets, filled them from the pool and walked them out to the driveway to dump, so we wouldn't ruin the grass. (That request came from my wife.)
We got the level down enough. Until that goddamn cold front came through.
So as dawn broke Sunday morning, with huge sheets of rain pouring down, there we were — three of us, my wife and I knee-deep in the pool, my kid bending down from the side (ah, to have a young back again), furiously bailing out over the side (take that, grass!) like shipwrecked sailors in a leaking lifeboat.
It's nothing, of course, compared to what others went through and are still going through.
But it is a helluva way to start a day. — Richard Connelly
Trouble in Sugar Land
Nasty fire ants and big snakes. Thanks to Hurricane Ike and then its afterbirth of rain Sunday morning, not only humans are looking for higher ground. Fire ants have taken flight, while underneath snakes of impressive length — 20 feet and more — are looking for refuge.
Meanwhile, power remained out at most residences and businesses in the county, which meant while refrigerators and freezers were giving up the ghost, people weren't able to go out to eat. What was driven home was even if you were able to charge your cell phone in the car, you couldn't call or text anyone because the reception was so bad.
Some folks jumped right on clearing up the debris in their yards, and tried to prop up the fencing — others just went wow and headed for their coolers. In the great scheme of things, who can tell who was closer to God?
Hightower High School's T-shacks in Missouri City took a direct hit, and its tennis court fence was pretty crumpled. Over at rival Elkins High, it looked like there was a lot less damage — at least to the outside of the school.
Dangling power lines were everywhere, traffic lights out, but so far people were being pretty cordial about having every intersection being a four-way stop. Next up, whether and where schools will be open, a.k.a. "don't we get something good out of this?" — Margaret Downing
George R. Brown Serves Again
The George R. Brown Convention Center transformed itself from expo center into a shelter for those affected by Ike. Fortunately, things seemed to go a bit smoother than when Katrina landed plenty of survivors on our shores. Ike brought some 1,600 people, arriving from varied locales and different area shelters. "People have come from smaller shelters set up at schools like Lamar, Yates and the Star of Hope center that lost power or water and had to be moved" said GRB Division Manager John Harris. "Setup went pretty smooth and we haven't run into any major problems as of yet.
People of all walks arrived to seek refuge, including John Shannon, who came in after he and neighbors lost electricity at his Airline Drive complex. "Friday the lights went out and we had some special-needs individuals with us. Some are on oxygen tanks, and my friend has diabetes and has to eat. We called the power company and they said the lights would be off for four weeks. We decided we should just leave for our own safety."
Others inside the convention center had harrowing tales of riding out Ike outdoors. Some of Houston's homeless didn't make it to a safe place in time. Unfortunately, Ferrell Fontenette felt the wrath of Ike more than some. "I got caught up in the drizzle, then the sky opened. POW! Lightning. I've been through a couple; Alicia was bad, but that was the worst there's ever been" he said. According to Fontenette, he found himself riding out the storm with nothing more than a trash bag for shelter, sitting in a small outdoor space in the St. Joseph Professional building. "I heard this large crack sound, a noise I've never heard before, and I couldn't move. The worst noise I've ever heard in my life; all I had was this plastic bag." — Brett Koshkin
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