Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hurricanes I Remember

The first hurricane that I remember was in July of 1943. That was before they started naming them. At the time we lived in Pasadena, Texas. What really makes this hurricane stand out in my memory was that my sister and I were staying with a neighbor because my mother had just had a breast removed due to cancer and my father was at the hospital with her. So we didn't have our parents with us. Still as I remember, it was an adventure. We went to the high school to spend the night. To me it was like a slumber party but there was a sense of danger. This was all a long time ago but I remember my father coming to the high school to get us and we waded home in water. I can still see him carrying my little sister and holding my hand as we went through the water.

There were some other hurricanes along the way but the next one that really stands out was Carla in 1961. I was about 3-1/2 months pregnant with Gary. Mae and Red were our best friends and Red was a manager in one of the plants. He had to stay put so Mae and her family came over to stay with us during the storm. Carla was a big storm....a category 4 when it made landfall in Matagorda with sustained winds of 115 mph. Thank goodness, in Galveston the sustained winds were 88 mph so in Houston it was even less than that but it was a huge storm covering most of the Texas Gulf Coast and it seemed like we were in the rain and tropical winds for about 48 hours.

In 1983, we lived about 75 miles from Galveston when Hurricane Alicia made a direct hit in Galveston and Houston. Downtown Houston had major damage because windows were shattered by loose gravel from the roofs of new skyscrapers. I remember standing at my kitchen window and watching the tree at the neighbor's house next door. The top of it was swirling...not just blowing in one direction. I turned to tell Ned he should come see the tree. When I looked back, the tree was uprooted and laying on the neighbor's roof. There was also major damage to the electrical distribution system. For some reason we didn't loose our electricity for more than a few hours but just across the street and in all the rest of our neighborhood most people were without power for a week or so.

And now, Hurricane Ike. We weren't there but I felt like I was. Between watching CNN, The Weather Channel and streaming video from the TV stations in Houston, we were virtually there. We were obsessed and the obsession started at the beginning of the week. We were scheduled to fly to Houston on Thursday morning for a surprise birthday party for Son #1. So we were watching the track of the storm before it ever entered the Gulf of Mexico. Wednesday night, with great angst, we cancelled our reservations. What if it turned and went South to Mexico, then we would miss out on a great time with family and friends. On the other hand, what if it didn't, then we would be stuck in Houston most probably without electricity and possibly with severe flooding. It was a hard decision to make. But by Thursday morning my daughter-in-law had to cancel the party because it was pretty clear that Houston and Galveston were not going to escape Ike.

We have talked with family and friends in Houston. Everyone is okay. Son #2 had some damage to the roof of his business and he has some concerns about inventory. Now the big issue is getting electricity back on. They need, really need, air conditioning in Houston in September. And us? we are still watching the Houston TV stations streaming video about the damages from the storm. We are really virtually there.


Jonna said...

I'm glad everyone is all right Billie, I've been thinking about you and your family there. We too have heard from our friends and they are safe. It was a really bad storm.

Brenda said...

Thank goodness they are OK, I have been thinking of your family as we watched the coverage. I am glad you have been able to communicate with them.

Mexico Cooks! said...

Billie, you and your family have been very much in my prayers. Thank God that, as we say in Mexico, no pasó nada. In other words, as long as no dire harm came to your nearest and dearest, anything else can be fixed.

Here in Morelia, I'm thinking of you and yours.


Billie said...

Jonna, Brenda and Cristina, thanks to all three of you for your thoughts and prayers.

jennifer rose said...

I didn't say much, but I, too, have been thinking about your family in Texas.

No matter where we live, there is always some hazard that leaves its mark upon our ways of life. When I was growing up, it was the Santa Ana winds bringing forest fires to Los Angeles. In Iowa, it was tornados. And now we have to worry about the US economy and bank failures this week.

Billie said...

Thanks Jennifer. The US economy is a very serious situation but the average American citizen doesn't seem to be worried about it.

Babs said...

Glad to hear they are all ok....Julie and kids are near Austin and not heading back til they have electricity. Kingwood was really hit hard....Amanda and Patrick lost the first floor of their place at Omega Bay but of course, can't get back there! It IS A MESS....but it will get fixed just like all the other times we survived.......Galveston as we knew it will never be the same again..........sadly

islagringo said...

At least your family is all safe and we all know that is the most important thing. Now if I would just hear from my friends in Galveston, I could rest easy too!

Cynthia said...

I live in Clear Lake City, but we were spared the fury of Ike. We have damage, but not devastation and I am so grateful.

I did not stay here for the storm since the surge predictions made my zip mandatory evacuation. I weathered it in the Upper Kirby area. In a four story concrete building, walls swayed. The howling winds went on for hours and hours.

I wished that I had chosen to miss it entirely and headed out of town, but after my Rita evacuation a few years ago, that scared me more than facing Ike's wrath.

Cleaning up in Clear Lake, with power, and cool breezes. For some strange reason, last night's low was in the high 50's and today's high only 82. The sun is shining and my house is dry and intact.