Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hurricane Ike: Two Years Later September 12th, 2008 by Deborah Dolen

Two Years After Ike by Deborah Dolen (Images courtesy of The Weather Channel)
By Thursday September 11th, 2008 we knew we were going to get directly hit by Hurricane Ike near Galveston TX. I watched the storm approach on radar on while I talked animatedly to my friends back in Florida. They could not believe we were getting the bullet they dodged. Hurricane IKE hit Galveston and downtown Houston Friday very late night September 12th, the brunt of the storm actually passing through in the early morning hours of Saturday the 13th of September 2008. It tore up downtown Houston, glass from its ethereal buildings lay sprawled on the ground. I went through IKE with my golden retriever, Ringo, who had himself been through Katrina and Wilma. I had been through Charlie and a number of other ones in Florida. Ike was the worst hurricane I had been through.

My dog and I could not leave the area to avoid the storm because we were not really from Texas and had no car there. My fiancé (now ex) was busy trying to protect his expensive stereo system and this marked the very end of that relationship. He had a car and demanded we could only leave if his valuable stuff went with us. I decided facing death would be better than being stuck in a car with my soon to be ex, on a packed highway, so I sedated Ringo with Benadryl that Friday evening and we slept in a walk in closet. Ringo succumbed rather quickly and good thing he did.

By midnight it was loud, IKE sounded like ear piercing jet engines. The sound was that of lot of energy. Every two minutes for the next four hours sounded just like jet engines preparing for take off. That is exactly what a hurricane sounds like. Immense jet engines preparing for take off. Close to one o’clock in the morning very loud bangs could be heard of objects hitting the house. In my area it was basically fences, chimneys and anything else not secured down. We lost electric just before the clock struck midnight of the 12th going into the 13th of September 2008. Little did we know we would not see electric again for days, even weeks. Over on Galveston Island, 20 minutes from where I was, well over 100 people lost their life. This was because many did not take it seriously. Some cell phone calls were made, people on the island commenting the water was up to their knees at 2:00 in the morning, and then never heard from again. After the fact, I learned many pets were left in cages and on leashes, when even the Mayor of Houston warned “death was immanent” for anyone staying on Galveston Island. If I knew this is what some people do I would have gone to the island and started letting pets loose or taking them to downtown. Anything would have been safer than being on Galveston Island during IKE.

The resulting days were very hard with ice being a major commodity and being up against real Katrina Pros to get some. They knew what to do, and were beating 2 bag per person minimums with counting their kids and pressing H.E.B. grocery clerks for all of it. They would walk away with ten or more bags. Bottom line when you stood in line for two hours there would be no ice left. My only saving grace was where I lived was influential and we got electric back up first. I recall the lights coming back on at two o’clock in the morning. I thought someone was putting a flashlight in my eyes-and kept asking them to stop. I finally awoke to seem the whole house ablaze with light and ceiling fans that finally worked.

The only bright side of Hurricane IKE was Halloween and autumn decorations went up for the first time anywhere I recall in September. Residents of the IKE hit areas could not wait to change the theme and psychologically moved forward as fast as possible. There was another bright side. A major cold front came in unseasonably early and stayed. It greatly helped those who had no electric or air condition. But Hurricane IKE re-defined my future and I am sure many others also. As every Halloween approaches I will never forget IKE. I am back in Florida with Ringo, my Golden retriever and kissing the Florida ground.