Sunday, September 14, 2008

Aftermath of Hurricane Ike

We went to bed as soon as the power went out - about 9:30. The kids started out on the sofa bed together. Olivia has a pretty big limb outside her bedroom window (the one Will tied up on Thursday) so we didn't want her sleeping in her room. Anyway, Will woke up about 11 when the rain started. Olivia came into our room about 1:45am. The wind was really whipping around by then. She and Will went back to the living room.

My heart began to race earlier in the day just now knowing what to expect. When I heard the roar of the wind, it picked up the pace quite a bit. I've never heard anything like that before - it sounded like constant waves crashing. Creaking limbs and trees, windows and doors rattling. It really was scary.

Olivia came back to join me after some amount of time. We held each other close and said a few prayers out loud - I had been saying the same thing over and over in my head for hours and wanted her to know that I had been talking to God. "Please, God, keep our family and friends safe." At some point, Olivia finally fell back asleep - I could tell b/c of the heavy breathing and the fact that she was flailing her arms and kicking me with abandon!

Mama finally texted me at about 6am to see how we were faring. Rather than text back and forth, I decided to see if the lines were clear enough to just call her. The call went right through and she told me that it looked like the storm was right on top of us. I was sitting in Olivia's room watching that tree bend back and forth so her insight wasn't particularly helpful. It was incredible - I was amazed that it was able to stand back up every time - must have been Will's fantastic Boy Scout tying job that kept the biggest limb from just snapping right off!

I also heard from Gay that they were all awake and in the bathroom together. They ended up with some pretty significant damage.

When I returned to my room, Olivia was coming to and ready to pose for a picture. You might notice that she had forgotten about the loss of power and immediately reached for the remote control. Too bad!

McIver - not so much! He stayed asleep through the opening and closing of the backdoor (our attempt to prove to the cat that she did not want any part of Ike), countless text msg notifications on both our cell phones and even a few phone calls. Olivia ate breakfast and brought her new Surf Shop into the living room and was not being particluarly quiet. McIver slept through it all.
Once both kids were up, fed and dressed, we went out to survey the damage. We fared relatively well. The kids had a great time collecting acorns for the squirrels. The shingles that were in our yard were not from our roof.
Part of the gutter had fallen from the front of the house.
The fence was easily blown over. You might also notice the downed power line. They were saying that it could take several weeks before power is fully restored.
We also went for a walk around the neighborhood. A huge, huge tree had fallen across the road making it completely impassable. The bayou that runs perpendicular to our street usually looks like a small creek but looked like a river. Limbs, shingles and other debris were scattered everywhere. It was like nothing I've ever seen.
So, after much debate and consideration, we decided to pack up and try to get out of town. The radio guys kept getting reports of bad weather to the north where Ike was still passing through, but we were headed east so we hoped for the best.
We left our house at 3:30pm on Saturday. The roads were actually more crowded than we thought they would be. Will was nervous that he had taken the south loop which passes through the most low-lying areas of Houston. We made it out to I-10 with no trouble, but could see that Highway 288 which leads into downtown was completely underwater. Debris from the Port of Houston was all up in the freeway so we knew the water had come up that far. We did have to take a detour to get around a 45 mile (give or take) stretch of I-10 that was underwater.
Let me tell you - the detour was a sight to see. We saw more downed power lines, telephone poles and trees than I've ever seen. At that point, we knew who they were talking about when they predicted 'certain death.' Mobile homes were everywhere and either totally destroyed or flooded. It ended up taking twice as long as normal (3 hours rather than 1 1/2 hours) to get to Beaumont, but once we hit the other side of Beaumont, it was smooth sailing. It was eery to be on the road with no street lights.
After 14 hours, we made it into Macon at 6:30 this morning. Will, McIver and I went back to sleep but Olivia stayed up and played Uno with Nanoo (beat her 5 times in a row, I might add!) and killed time waiting for us to get up.

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