20 September 2008

Hurrican Ike - full report from our Houston correspondent

Had a great e-mail from Roy Fitz. telling what it was like to be in Houston while Hurrican Ike was giving it a pounding. The entire mail is below - Cheers Roy.
Hurricane Ike

They shut the office on Thursday morning. By that time there was already a mandatory evacuation order for Galveston and the Bolivar Penninsula, though they still thought the storm would hit south of here and we would see more of the rain than the wind. We had two days to get ready, but most of the work was done after the early warnings had meant that our drill was pretty slick. The roads were pretty quiet, as most people decided to stay (even in the mandatory evac areas they reckon at least 50% stayed put).

It seemed like ages for the strom to arrive. Got the kids to camp out down stairs in the internal hall, and though the wind was getting up by 11 there was no rain.

The electricity went out around three - when the eye was over Houston. The double glazing kept the noise down to a low roar, but looking out the tree's were blowing about like crazy.

Went back to sleep and woke to the rain/wind around 7.00. Everything outside was green, as so many leaves and small branches had came down. Across our property only a couple of biggest branches came down. However, when I walked out to the main road some real big oaks had come crashing down, one tree also had all of its upper limbs twisted off.

After everyone got up we went for a wander - more trees were down but remarkably only one had hit a house (so our neighbourhood got off lightly). Everyone sounded pretty relieved. As more info came in on the radio it sounded that the damage was bad down at the bay and along the coast. Downtown had taken plenty of abuse with lots of windows in the skyscrapers smashed up. The radio was dominated by emergency annoucements and people with home remedies.

The water went off at around 12 - and was expected to be out for 36-48hrs - then after that you would have to boil everything as they reckoned it would be contaminated. We went out that evening for a drive - a couple of places still had power and were open but the queues were massive. Luckily having a pot burner on the barbie and planty of stoves.

By this time it was a good idea to get out of dodge - so we drove up to Austin to stay with Murray - kids now treating whole thing as a holiday. I came back on Monday evening - local area pandamonium - some shops on the main arteries had power but rather than park cars and walk all the bozos were still trying to use the drive thrus.

Power was off so not a lot could be done. However, the temp had dropped as a cold front came thru and the weather was almost chilly. Ened up getting up at 4 the next moring to start tidying up - broke the curfew by dredging the pool. Spent the whole of Tuesday cleaning up. First reports coming in of how whole communities had been erased (Crystal Beach, Gilcrist etc) - since no one knew who had evac'd they don't have a clue how many are missing - go on the NOAA site for some great shots of the coast after the storm - see how ravinement works (for the geos!).

Water pressure ramped back up and the power came on yesterday evening - lynda and the kids home then. Camping out in your own house was pretty weird but very 18th century - would have been better if all the pricks hadn't been running generators in the neighborhood.

Came to work today and heard all sorts of war stories. Lynda called at 9.30 to say the power was off - some tubes cutting trees had brought one down on the line…..

Some neighborhoods are not expecting power for another 3 weeks. Petrol is scare and all people are looking for is ice!

Needless to say the pricks are sitting up all night with there guns hoping that someone will try and steal there generator!!

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