Jane’s Ike Adventure

All is well in the Rochester household, though we are still without cable and internet. A small loss, comparatively, but largely felt by all concerned. I have appropriated the Grandparents Eyre’s computer for a couple hours to go through my obese email inbox and type this missive.

When it became apparent two weeks ago that Hurricane Ike was indeed bearing down upon Houston, we started making plans about what we would do. We live in Evacuation Zone A, 3 miles from the Kemah boardwalk which I have been told was all over the national news. (Sadly, that gaudy strip is still there while the houses around it are in shambles.) Had the storm surge been the 18+ feet that was predicted, we likely would have had water in our house. As it was, God was watching over us, and our house, at least, was safe from the water.

We boarded up the front windows, the ones which were the most vulnerable and which were closest to the TV and stereo system. Priorities, you see. I put four bags of ice in our deep freezer and crossed my fingers that it would be enough. We packed our car with a few days clothes, our important documents, the Wee Bairn Rochester, the dog, and the sugar glider and headed north.

We landed on the north side of Houston proper, in an area called The Heights, where Mr. Rochester’s sister, brother-in-law, and parents live. Thursday night was uneventful. Friday dawned and we watched the sky and the trees as they started their windy dance.

We stayed up playing games and checking the news as the weather deteriorated. The lights flickered on and off all evening and they finally went out for good around 9:30. I always find it strange how quiet things are when we are not surrounded by the hum of our electronic lives. We continued playing cards by candlelight and went to bed after midnight.

The wind woke me up around 3:30. I remember Hurricane Alicia as a child, but I had forgotten that particular noise 110 mph wind makes as it whips everything in its path. A wind that fast can not even be called a howling wind; it is altogether something else. Every now and then a gust would come that would suck the air before it, as if it had to breathe in to achieve a Big Bad Wolf moment, and then it would roar past, rattling the windows and the walls ferociously.

We were in what I figured was a pretty strong house, having been newly built, so I was not worried about the roof caving in and I listened to the storm with awe instead of fear. Pullo, the Rochester dog, became restless sometime after 4, and would not quiet down. It occurred to me that I heard dripping coming from the floor above. I went to check it out and the ceiling was leaking in a couple places on that level. The whole house was roused and we quickly placed various containers for catching the water under the drips.

Minus the influx of water, which was minor, comparatively, we weathered the storm well. We sweltered away in the heat and humidity for a couple days. Without electricity, we were at the mercy of the slightest breeze and clouds for comfort. We had two crank radios with which we listened to for a few minutes every hour or so to try to hear what was going on in the world around us. We drank water from our water container we had filled before the storm and forwent showers.

The nights were hot. Unlike other places, Houston does not enjoy a cooling period at night in the summer. It remains hot and humid 24 hours a day. We drank warm beer and wine and played cards. One night, over poker and the last of the beer, I told Mr. Rochester that it felt like were in extras in the movie A Time to Kill, where they were always sweaty and drinking beer. Of course, the actors looked much better than we did. At least they had had showers before sweating profusely.

Monday, we decided to brave the roads and see what had become of our neighborhood. Everywhere along our route home there were buildings, awnings, and various things that had lost the battle between wind and rain. Most of the traffic lights were either out or completely gone. It is hard traveling home, not knowing what you will find.

We live in a newer neighborhood, so there are only small trees. As a result, there was very little damage in our area. Even roofs appeared intact. Amazingly, our house was exactly as we had left it. We even had electricity and all the meat in the freezer was still frozen. Even the sour cream in the fridgerator was good enough to eat. We had not been without power long. It was quite wonderful and I again felt blessed for the things I have been given.

Other neighborhoods did not fare so well. Areas with a lot of tree coverage had a lot more damage to power lines and structures. Driving to my grandparent’s and uncle’s houses was interesting. Piles of tree limbs and debris, larger than my car (I drive a large SUV), sat at the end of every driveway and yard. We went by Kemah on Sunday as we went to church and the piles of limbs were joined by the entire contents of houses and businesses as people tossed away lives that had been flooded in the surge.

Life is slowly getting back to normal. Many of our favorite places were flooded and will be closed for weeks or months. Activities that filled my week, like things at church, are still suspended as our efforts are given to others instead of ourselves. My in-laws still do not have power, almost two sweltering weeks later. The mosquitos, suddenly larger than normal (they could carry off small children in a pinch), are everywhere. We are without cable or the internet. I have been at the mercy of the local news (Lord, help me) and if it were not for NPR, I would have no idea what was transpiring outside of my region.

I will try to post intermittently when I can get online access, but we have no promise about when the cable issue will be fixed. It is a small one, but one that once fixed, will greatly help me feel like life is back to normal. I never realized how very much I am in love with my DVR.

In sum, the Rochesters are doing well. Thankful to have survived another storm in our lives with relatively little bruising and each other intact.

–Jane, feels blessed