Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hurricane Ike’s Lingering Effects: Day 8

It really is starting to feel more like normal. Even the weather is getting back to normal patterns: warm, but now with humidity back along with the stillness. It makes work chopping down branches and debris and hauling them to the street even more physically taxing.

Not only is there the heavy sweat to now contend with, we’ve also seen the return of something else we’re well acquainted with here: mosquitoes. They began coming in with the humidity last night, but I notice quite a number of them out back while I was toiling. During the heat of the day, they’re not too bad. But once the sun goes behind the fence and shade moves in, the swarms come out.

With so many other priorities around the region, spraying for bugs isn’t one of them. Making my situation worse is the fact that I have a bayou right out back. If that’s not great breeding ground, then just beyond my dead end is open fields and a series of large detention ponds (for those unfamiliar, in the flatlands, we have essentially pits dug into the ground to trap heavy rain runoff, or in my case, connected to the bayous or creeks to catch heavy waterflow into them and keep from overtaxing – flooding – the waterways leading to the ship channel. We have to have them because we’re flat, and the floods will otherwise just sit for long periods of time in wherever they would flood prior to the ponds system being built (like roads, or out of bayous’ banks).

All the detention ponds have a little water sitting in them, stagnating and waiting until the sun evaporates it. Meanwhile, they’re virtual mosquito metropolises.

Another part, not so enjoyable, is smelling the musky murk emanating from the bayou. With windows open, the smell permeates the house. It’s like living in a storm sewer pipe. It makes me wonder how people on the coast are living with the smell, much less the mosquito swarms. It’s going to be a while before either floods or our bloodsucking friends leave.

Just driving around tonight, it appears most every store is now open. With the exception of a few smaller storefront still struggling, all the major businesses have opened for business.

Businesses way outpaced the other infrastructure in getting back to normal. Driving down the street, you still see patches without streetlights. Store signs are occasionally there, but many are not or are darkened. Some of them appear not to be open, such as Starbucks with their intimate lighting inside … until you realize the parking lot is full of cars. There’s just no sign to display who it is.

Stop lights are also lagging behind business. We’re getting more of them back, but that’s only about half. The rest vary from blinking red lights, to darkened, to no lights at all – just wires, or dangling fixtures. Even some of the stop light street signs are dangling from the wires. A mile or so away, one stoplight installed on a pole had the pole itself blow completely 90 degrees – not even showing over the street it covers, but parallel to the curb right next to the other stop light.

With more stop lights coming on line, there’s a new problem. We’ve all become so used to all stop lights being treated as four-way stops that we now automatically presume that at every stop-lighted intersection. I did it too, and nearly got hit by the second car who tried to drive through the intersection. Only when the driver honked at me and gestured toward the stoplight did I realize it was functioning.

I can imagine the opposite happening soon as well: once everyone becomes used to most intersections having working lights, then blow through one which is out and supposed to be a 4-way stop.

Even complaining about this makes me feel selfish. People on the opposite side of town, and more so on the coast, would give anything just to have this quasi-normal routine back now. It’s going to be months before these folks even reach our level of routine.

1 comment:

asaltarski said...

Well written post. I too have noticed the horrible smell and the viscous mosquitoes. Funny how I never noticed the smell from the retention pond behind my house until the electricity went out.

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Hope all goes well for you and your family.