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.]


Polar said...

Our thoughts are with you, and everyone else in the Houston and Galveston metro area.

RandyOOO said...

I would just like to comment on the anger and frustration I have listening to the so called “victims” of Hurricane Ike. My heart goes out to those who have lost everything but the clothes on their back. I feel the pain of those who have had years of possessions and memories removed from them. I reserve these emotions for those who heeded the warnings and left or could not leave. I have lived through a category 4 hurricane in 1992 with recorded wind gusts up to 227 mph. During hurricane Iniki we had no where to go as we were on an island. Everyone took the warnings seriously. Anyone close to the coast evacuated to an inland shelter. There were instances of people who lived inland who lost roofs and possessions but due to the ability of the local residence to be intelligent enough to heed the weather service only 4 lives were lost, and 2 of them were at sea at the time.

I watch with anger and disgust the people telling their close brushes with death because they were smart enough to stay, even though the national weather services used the phase eminent death. How more plan can you be? I was watching the early stages of the storm as the coast guard had some 1400 calls for rescue after the waters started rising. These calls of able bodied people took precious time away from rescuers to find people who were NOT able to leave without assistance. I watched a reporter interviewing a man who was telling of how the water was filling up in his house and how his two boys sitting on the couch in life jackets got sharpies to write their names and social security on their arms so their bodies could be identified. I listened to another story of a family that were sleeping and the roof blew off and he grabbed his daughter by the arm just before she was blown from the house. Personally I believe these two families should have their children taken from them for child endangerment.

I listen and become sick when I think theses people who “CHOSE” to stay put their children and rescuers lives at risk. I do realize that not all of the people had a choice, but for those who did I feel rage. To think that people would not only have so little regard for their own lives but that of their families and officials responsible for their well being, I believe it should be criminal. I live in Arizona now and we have a law on the books now called the “Stupid Motorist Law” It is for motorists that chose to ignore barricades and drive through flooded areas. If they are stranded they will be fined and have to pay for their own rescue. Perhaps the coastal states should pass some similar laws to protect the people who don’t have choices, like the rescuers and the children of the idiots.

Vanessa E. Foster said...

Trust me, I share some of that frustration. Friday night I was out volunteering with those doing the right thing and evacuating (a story in itself!) There's still logistical issues that FEMA / Chertoff have still not worked out post-Katrina! You'd think 3 years would be enough.

Another issue that didn't help was the mass evacaution for hurricane Rita here. We lost 110 people in the evacuation of the storm, only 9 as a result of the storm. Because of the clusterf@%k that became, most people decided the frustration and danger of that was too much to chance and (looking at the lack of Rita damage) decided riding it out was better.

They were stupid, shouldn't have chanced that type of storm surge. But they did and they're paying a pretty steep price. As for me, I'm out west. We don't have storm surge, and we're (now, finally) encouraged by authorities to stay put and "hunker down". The wind sucks, but it won't wipe the earth clean like a storm surge. I had wind damage, but am much better off that coastal folks.

They should've used better judgement.

RandyOOO said...

Thank you for your volunteering. Being a storm victim myself I can tell you it is much appreciated. You are so right. They should have used better judgment. I just get angry thinking people who might be dead that could not get out on their own because rescuers spent their time saving people who chose to be smarter than the professionals and endanger themselves without any regard for the consequences.