Saturday, September 27, 2008

So Long Ike

Written 9.20.08

We lost power approximately 7:00 pm on Friday, September 12, well before Hurricane Ike even made landfall. Ike packed a mean punch. It was long hours of howling winds and pounding rain, followed by the calm of the eye, and then more wind and rain.

Even though we were exhausted, sleep was next to impossible. We heard the constant roar of the wind, tree limbs whipping through the air, and broken branches smacking against the house. The kids would doze, only to fully awaken with the next accelerated blast of wind and the whistle echoing through the fireplace. Reassured of their safety, they would then fall back to sleep, only to awaken again. Hurricane Ike was extremely large, and the storm lasted many hours. It was a truly long and terrifying night.

But everything must eventually come to an end, and so it was with Ike. Finally, the wind stopped blowing and the rain quit falling. Our home and property escaped damage, although many of our friends, family, and neighbors fared less well. We were limited to a messy yard with a lot of limbs and debris. We were lucky.

Our first full day without power was hot and humid – typical Texas weather. But the following days were glorious! A cold front moved through, and our highs only reached the 70's/low 80's and our lows were in the 50's and 60's. Great sleeping weather – and little to no humidity.

It felt odd being completely disconnected with no telephone, electricity, computer, or cell phone coverage. I wondered how my parents were, my sister and our friends, yet all I could do was hope and pray that they had made it through OK. Our only remaining connection was a battery-powered radio. We soon discovered however, that my home office telephone landline worked with a corded phone plugged in, so then we were able to check in on family and friends.

What happened next was short of miraculous. Neighbor helping neighbor, everyone pitched in to begin the cleanup and recovery. Debris littered throughout the neighborhood became mounds at the end of driveways. Ice and chests were shared. Generators powered up with strands of extension cords draping lawns. Everyone wanted to help out. What had looked like a war zone began taking shape once again as our neighborhood.

Invitations were extended for dinners as food needed used before it went bad. No one was in a hurry. People stopped and talked, kids played together outside, and families took bike rides and walks. And of course the weather was wonderful and made the outdoors very enjoyable. It was a very pleasant time socially indeed.

One by one stores began to open. First, there were incredible lines for necessities such as gas or food, but as more and more stores opened, the lines diminished considerably. Finally, six days later, our power was restored. We were one of the lucky ones, as there are many more still without power. Soon our cable TV and internet connections will be restored, and the kids will be able to go back to school.

I asked my husband if there were another storm, would he stay or evacuate. Of course, it would be somewhat dependent upon the storm itself, but we both felt as though we would probably stay again in the future. I am frequently accused of turning lemons into lemonade, but while Ike was a very bad storm indeed, it also gave us invaluable time. Time to re-connect with family, friends and neighbors.

We were lucky (I can't say that enough). We never lost our water supply, the weather was very comfortable while we were without power, and we did not have damage to our home. Others weren't so lucky and they still need our prayers.

9.27.08 UPDATE

Finally, seven days after drafting this post, Comcast restored our service! Extremely thankful we had electricity after only six days without, I was beginning to experience severe internet withdrawal. Fifteen days in total without a home telephone, internet access, and of course, cable TV. I have felt so disconnected - what have I missed?