Monday, September 22, 2008

Take that Ike!

I arrived back in Houston the night of the 15th. I was very lucky in that I got picked up from the airport by the people that were looking after the Girls. It was so good to see those wiggly, furry bodies (the Girls that is, not Tina and Shane!) Everyone on the plane had been apprehensive about what we would see when we landed and nothing we had heard could have prepared us for what I saw. On the way from the airport to home, I kept seeing... nothing... there were no street lights after the airport complex and the large business districts were also dark. No traffic signals and even the big gas stations were all dark. The roads were virtually empty. Crazy Houston traffic had morphed into sedate, mid-century Sunday driving.

We swung into the driveway to see it littered with lots of tree bits but nothig looked truly damaged. No lights at home but I had lots of candles and battery powered accessories so all I did was bring in the suitcases, let the Girls out for a pee and went to bed. I woke to see a very different landscape. One of the big Sumac tress in the front yard was leaning on the pine trees. The back yard was covered in dozens of tree branches. The little park across the street at the entrance to the Green Belt Trail was littered with large branches. I took the girls for a walk and was amazed at the number of large speciman trees in front yards that had been split, fallen or pushed over by this storm. I did not see any home damage, just trees down and fences crumpled.

When I got home I realized that my front yard was completely pristine. Even some of the driveway had been cleaned up. The neighbors on both sides of me had done a ton of clean-up for me. It only took a couple of more hours before the driveway was finished with one of my neighbors and I chipping tree limbs and other fallen tree bits. My neighbor on the other (actually his mother) came over to apologize for not completing the driveway as she had run out of bags to contain the mess. I am humbled by their generosity. When their own clean-up was massive, they still spent a lot of time working on my yard. Good people both.

Although I had to clean-up my own backyard, I felt paralyzed by the number of things I needed to do... so I did very little. There were notes to write from the funeral, people to call, clothing to wash, paperwork to be sorted ... but I spent most of my time listening to the radio report on the progress of the clean-up effort and tales of relief chaos. The incomparable Ms. S. and I spent a lot of time sitting on her front porch talking about genrators, family and friends.

By Friday, we were both stir crazy and did a wacky road trip to find an open post office, cruise Target, eat lunch and buy tamales. By Sunday I had had enough of the heat and humidity and decided to go to Paul's to wash clothes. He was working elsewhere and it was very strange to be in his home, doing laundry, charging electronics and playing with the dogs without him. As we were coming home, the alarm company called and said that my alarm was showing a break-in. The poor operator could not understand was a I was so happy.. if the alarm was on then the power was on. Yahoo!

Back to reality...

Later - lessons learned.


mamalife said...

Glad you are safely home, though I am sorry again for the loss of your father. Glad also that damage was contained to downed trees and power outages. Had no power here for a week a few years ago after a tropical storm. No fun, but then you realize you have to count your blessings if that is the worst of it. Sure is a wonderful feeling when it comes back on! And what awesome neighbors you have, to help clean up your yard as well. Very nice.

Anonymous said...

Alice -

So sorry to hear about the death of your father. Whether you see it coming or not, you are never quite "ready." As you have noted, I know there are good people in Houston despite the crazy news stories. Looks like your neighborhood is filled with great ones.

JenniferH (formerly with Houston Sewing Group)