Monday, August 29, 2005

Following Hurricane Katrina

Everyone is focusing on the progress of Hurricane Katrina around here. Although we are blessedly far enough west of the storm to be well out of danger, radios and tv's all over town are tuned to news about it.

If you've lived down here long enough, you have your own story about living through a significant hurricane or tropical storm. When Portia and Babs were a toddler and an infant the eye of a relatively weak hurricane traveled directly over our home and downtown Houston. The eerie wail of wind that preceeded any of the rain can't be forgotten by anyone who ever heard it. It sounds like a never-ending low-pitched banshee.

For us the worst part was the aftermath. All of downtown was closed off for several days while work crews cleaned up heaps of shredded glass blown out of all the modern-style office towers. I remember El Jefe being disgusted with a provincial NYC lawyer who called him at home exacerbated because no one was answering the phone at El Jefe's law firm. He had to explain to him that when hurricanes are in town, all business comes to a halt for a while.

Once the storm passed, the sun came out again and the temperature rose to the high 90's as all power remained out. After 3 days I was packing up to take the girls to my sister-in-law's house (her power was restored) when, praise God, the lights came on!

My neighbors across the street suffered without electricity in the stifling heat for two full weeks, though. I kept her children's formula and milk in my refrigerator all that time. Apparently the other side of the street was connected to a different power grid that was for some reason lower on the priority list of the utility company.

We were very lucky that time and we knew it. Watching and listening to the reports about this dreadful hurricane, I can't help reliving that experience and praying that the loss of life and property will be far less than is being predicted. Blessings on all who fled the storm and who remained in its path.


Mary Beth said...

Yep. I grew up in Houston and vividly remember tracking hurricanes on those little charts on the grocery bags - that was back before radar scans on TV and continuous news coverage!

Do you perhaps refer to that storm in August of 1987? I got out of my car the night it came in and tried to drag a billboard out of the way. Did you know - billboards are made of METAL? and I cannot move one! :)

reverendmother said...

I remember those grocery bags too!

That's interesting, Grace--we had the same experience with half the street with power, the other half without. And I bet it was the same hurricane! Our next door neighbor had power and we didn't, and I remember vividly the industrial-strength extension cords snaking out of their side window and into ours.

Quotidian Grace said...

Hey we still have those grocery bags! They make their appearance at the beginning of each hurricane season and are retired in November.

The Hurricane I am referring to here is Alicia in 1983. It was only a category 1 when it came ashore, but it wreaked havoc.

However the tropical storm Allison that hit in 1999 caused way more damage than the hurricane because it dumped 15 inches of rain on the Houston Medical Center, which lost millions of dollars of equipment in the massive flooding.

Jennifer said...

My only hurricane experience was Hugo in 1989... but I must confess that I was 6 (almost 7!). My mom stuck me in a closet because I hadn't woken up. I slept through the whole thing, including the tree slamming into the roof above me.

The best part was having so many downed trees that I didn't have to go to school for three weeks. I remember how excited I was to be able to play in the trees and not have to climb them. Ahh, to be a little kid. :)

reverendmother said...

Yep on Hurricane Alicia. I was 11.

Mary Beth said...

That's right, Alicia! Sorry, I got my landmark years confused. 1983 I graduated from high school and left Houston (but not before she arrived!) and 1987 I graduated college.

Huge oaks in our yard came down. We were supposed to go to the Simon and Garfunkel concert that night (of the hurricane), but they cancelled.

Good to be in North Texas now where hurricanes aren't a threat. However, my bathroom ceiling just fell down, so NO ONE IS IMMUNE FROM DISASTER!