If you ask William Guidry how long he’s been on High Island, he’ll tell you since 1717.
He’ll tell you that his family had lived just fine without electricity or bottled water, thank you very much, thriving on water from a spring and a good work ethic. That’s why Guidry never left High Island, and while the small town right now has its share of decimated trailers, and while cattle and horses rule the roads, he and his family have been managing quite comfortably.
On Thursday, Guidry sat in his garage with his girlfriend Lori Beck, while TV news, on mute, tracked Ike’s aftermath. The couple’s two-year-old Boston Terrier, Spot, ran in and out of the garage, at one point clutching a little rubber football in his mouth, eager for a playmate. Guidry had cleared a nice sitting area in the garage, with a comfortable distance from an old hot-tub standing on its end, a dust-covered 1971 Yamaha motorcycle, and other random boxes, blankets and tools.
Sitting in an office chair, smoking a Marlboro and swigging Bud Light out of a coozy, Guidry grabbed the remote control and demonstrated that the television’s volume easily rises above the rattle of the diesel-powered generator that’s been running since Ike hit. Guidry says he also never lost Internet access. They’ve had enough food, and had just whipped up a batch of sloppy joes for dinner. His forty-year old house is fine and the metal roof he installed after Hurricane Humberto never budged.
After a few minutes, seven-year-old Katherine came out of the house, where she had been practicing her recorder, and headed straight for Beck’s lap. She held her brown stuffed dog, Cocoa. All smiles, Katherine has been making out just fine with her movies and Barbies.
Guidry worked at the Gulf Coast Market, a one-stop shop on Crystal Beach that sold gas, food, hardware, and bait. Dressed in a short-sleeved button-down shirt and jeans, Guidry’s a solid-looking man with a mustache and deep tan. Beck was wearing a t-shirt and shorts, and worried about her hair when asked if the photographer could take her picture. But there was no need to worry – you’d never expect that these two had just ridden out a hurricane.
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Beck worked at Cobb Real Estate, and while her co-workers made it out OK, a few tears ran down her cheeks when she mentioned two friends she hasn’t heard from since the night before the storm. She says her ex-husband was the last one who talked to them, and they said they were supposed to be airlifted out. She doesn’t know if they made it.
A few of their neighbors stuck around, but most of the houses on the street were boarded up and empty. They said no authorities have told them to leave, and even if they did, Guidry said, he would tell them he was standing his ground. He talked about Charlton Heston holding up that rifle, saying if they have to take it, it’ll be from his cold dead hands. He made sure to point out the sign on his house that said: “Never mind the dog – beware of owner.”
Beck’s car has plenty of gas, and the family also has an old blue electric golf-cart to get around in, but there’s really no need to go anywhere. They had warm sloppy joes waiting. They had a sturdy house, plenty of water, and electricity. Most importantly, they had each other.
-- Craig Malisow