Friday, September 12, 2008
My Hurricane Blog: Ike!
[Calm the night evening before the storm, about 12 hours before the peak]
[Some last minute preparations indoors]
[A quick pre-storm shot of the Brays Bayou's north fork which runs behind my house]
Evening’s coming, and the winds are picking up! Actually it’s a nice respite, early morning and all day yesterday were typical: hot, humid and very still. But the gusts are really picking up at 6PM. This will be a bit unusual of a blog as it may end abruptly, depending on electricity. I’ll add and update as much as I can until then.
One oddity: Greens Bayou a little way up the mouth has already flooded! It doesn’t sound unusual accept for one fact: they haven’t had a drop of rain yet. This is not good. Essentially, the storm surge is now forcing water back up the bayou system! I’m quite a way in the upper Brays Bayou (the north fork of which literally runs in back of my back yard), so I’ve seen no effect … yet. We’ll see if the surge wends its way up ours as well – hopefully not! That’s more than a little unsettling.
There are reports on Crystal Beach, across the channel from Galveston, of people stranded on rooftops because of the rising water ahead of the hurricane. County authorities can’t confirm the reports because conditions are too bad and they won’t chance a rescue now. But as it’s 6:30 PM – a full six hours from landfall – these folks may have a long night.
According to the report, there were two on one rooftop, and across from them were fifteen people on a church rooftop all tied together. The tying together thing may sound good in a panic mentality. But history showed in 1900 that during Galveston’s last big flood, an orphanage where the nuns had tied themselves and all the children together ended up contributing to their own deaths as debris caught the ropes and in most cases, pulled them under.
It may sound weird to folks not here, but it’s been a relatively normal day in the neighborhood. If you didn’t go out and notice all the boarded up and closed businesses, you’d never know there was anything different. This evening (while apparently my friends were worrying about me) I was outside eating dinner and visiting with my neighbors, talking about the storm and the presidential race. We had a really nice chat over in the park at our dead end, and I ended up on my sitting on my front porch with my Ethiopian neighbors across the street, enjoying a glass of wine. Maybe later I’ll think about working up a pitcher of daquiris.
There’s quite a number of power outage reports coming in from around the area, and the storm won’t really hit for another three hours at this point. Most all cities in the area have imposed a curfew as well. Thankfully (as my neighbors and I noted while chatting) we live on a great street in our neighborhood. We all know each other and look out for each other. It helps in uncertain times.
Now I’m getting notice of the earliest damage coming in from Galveston, I should watch the TV instead of just listening. I’m worrying about the folks who didn’t take heed in this storm and stayed put on the island. They estimated 40% of Galveston remained there. With 22 foot storm surge, it will overtop their seawall by four feet – without counting either the high tide or the height of individual tides. It could be sad news at the coast.
It's just after 10:45PM and we've yet to have rain! However, we just had our first brief power outage due to the high wind gusts. This is a strangely dry hurricane for such a surge and what should prove to be high winds. It's so dry that I've had my windows open all day -- no rain, no need to close them (though the gusts are a bit annoying at times).
Just got word on Facebook from one of my city council friends that my bayou out back, the Brays, is 2/3 full way downstream (which she attributed to storm surge). It's unknown (and to me doubtful) that any surge is that strong to send it all the way to the upper Brays where I am -- but it bears monitoring, just to be safe!
In case I lose power longterm, know that it's due to power blackout. That first one was just a warning.
Strangely, even with all the high winds I've had so far, we finally got our first rain at 4 minutes before midnight!
I got a chance to visit with a friend in Indianapolis, Marti Abernathey, on Facebook's instant message around 2AM, and let her know everything was fine. It's windy, and really not that rainy -- which I don't understand. We've should had at least some heavy rains at this point (even though the eye is currently poised five miles off of Galveston), but nothing much to speak of. Yet for as little rain, we've had an inordinate amount of wind. I can only speculate, but I'd say we're maybe 45 mph sustained -- some gusts much stronger. Listening to my house creak and the chimney rattle so much is mildly unsettling. But other than a mild loss of lights for a minute or so, there's been nothing much yet. Who knows?
The latest report seems to indicate it's going straight in, and I'm due northwest of Galveston. We could have a long night of this.
[After the lights went out, I chased down the sound of the drip and filmed the leak in my ceiling]
[A different spot where I found a leak around the window up on the 2nd floor -- one I can't get to]
[What I originally thought would be the height of the storm, I went outside at 4:45 AM to try to film. Mostly it's just lots of noise and darkness.]
[This was about the height of the storm at my house, just as dawn was breaking around 6:20. After I got hit with a couple small branches and watching something whizz in back of my head -- not to mention getting pinned to my front porch wall as I tried to get back in the front door -- I decided I had enough video.]