Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Hunkered Down: Our Hurricane Ike Story

Having grown up here in Houston, hurricanes are not a new thing to me. I was about 4 years old when the last big hurricane (Alicia) hit Houston and my memories of it include playing on a tire swing the day before the storm and taking a walk outside when the eye passed over us. Hurricane Ike has certainly left a bigger impression on me, so I thought I would share some photos and a few thoughts about my experience.

The night before the hurricane, I was pretty relaxed. With Rita missing us at the last minute three years ago, and the fact that we are pretty far inland, I wasn't too worried. I stocked up on some food that day, and would have filled up my gas tank except all the stations on my way home were out of gas. We removed all the porch furniture, and put some of our more fragile plants inside the garage. Then I made dinner.... a delicious salad with roasted shallot dressing, chickpea romesco (from VCON), and mustard crusted seitan (from YRR). We went to bed with full bellies, hoping we would wake up to news that the storm had weakened as it neared land.

Sleeping on Friday night when the hurricane hit was next to impossible. Our power went off around midnight and in addition to the howling winds shaking the house, it was starting to get very warm without the air conditioner. Finally around 2am, John got up to peek outside some of the windows. At that point he told me to get dressed and ready to leave, because there was a fire about 25m from our house! The picture is really blurry, but you can see the fire trucks and flames coming off a Houston restaurant (Brennan's). We were worried that with the high winds, the fire might start moving, but thankfully they got it under control.

Several hours later, after the eye of the storm passed and the sun came up, we awoke to find street flooding that was almost up to our doorstep. Thankfully, the water began receding after I snapped this photo.

After concluding that our townhome didn't sustain any major damage (except for the plants we left outside all got knocked over), we took a walk down our street to see how the neighborhood fared. We saw lots of downed trees.....

This one knocked down a power line and clipped the edge of the house right across the street from us.

This tree blocked the entire street until someone with a chainsaw came by and made room for cars to pass.
And this tree came down with so much force that it shoved a car out of it's way!
Luckily though many of our huge, beautiful live oak trees survived the storm, minus a few branches here and there.

The streets were littered with debris, including roof shingles, leaves and branches, styrofoam board, and signs....
Such as a piece of the Jack in the Box sign on Montrose.
And a Montrose street sign that blew down from a stoplight intersection.

Sadly, there were also signs of looting, such as at the Berryhill on Montrose (along with their torn up patio)....
And the Starbucks in the same parking lot with a smashed in window.
After our walk through the neighborhood, I noticed how our garages were covered with pieces of leaves. Looks like something you would see in a modern art museum.
That night, with candles and flashlights to light the way, a hand-crank rechargeable radio to cut the silence, our last bit of cold champagne for a mimosa, and our leftovers from the warming fridge, we ate dinner. Our "hurricane hash", John arranged the plate to look a bit disheveled, with the green beans leaning over like many of our neighborhood trees. Our hash included chickpea romesco leftovers, homemade seitan, mushrooms, and green beans.

At this point, I pretty much stopped taking pictures. Sunday was much of the same, we took walks, cleaned up the yard and packed up what was left in the fridge into coolers. Everything we had in the freezer (including the last bit of wedding cake... our 1 year anniversary is next week) ended up getting tossed. We headed out to my parents house where they had power and stayed till Monday evening (Thanks mom & dad for a place to crash and for feeding us well!!). Then we got a call from a neighbor that our power was back on. We rushed home only to remember that our townhomes are on two sets of transformers... and we are on the other one.

We still don't have power... I am back at work right now typing this up. We are still trying to salvage our refrigerator food, so the search for ice is constant. I still haven't attempted to get gas because the lines have been so long. But slowly, things are returning back to normal. And it's easy to see how lucky we were compared to many in the surrounding area, especially the areas hardest hit.

I hope to get around to visit blogs in the coming days, especially if our power is restored. And I am really hoping to get back in the kitchen soon (though thankfully we do have a gas stove)! Thank you so much for everyone's thoughts and well wishes.

37 comments:

jessy said...

oh my goodness! i'm so glad you're both okay! looks like there was a lot of damage done, but that things weren't as bad as they could have been! glad the oak trees hung in there, too! they're pretty awesome at surviving some tough winds! :)

that realy stinks that you had to toss everything from the freezer - especially the wedding cake. sadface. i really love the hurricane hash! and good idea on pairing it with a mimosa! mmmmmmm! :)

good to hear you're working with the salvaged fridge food, and i'm keeping my fingers crossed that your power comes back super soon! hang in there! and we'll see ya back in the kitchen soon!

happy thought & hugs to you both!

Mihl said...

That sounds and looks really scary. I am very relieved that John and you are okay.
I am so thankful that we live in a relatively safe area.
P.S. I moved my blog to wordpress, visit me there if the power is back :)

potato said...

Glad you're ok! Those are some beautiful trees along the street.

Leigh said...

Wow, so glad to hear that you guys made it through okay. Here's hoping the power comes on for you very soon.

...barbara... said...

it is so good to hear you are okay....

that is all very scary....

crossing my fingers for you to have power soon :)

Chrissy said...

Glad you survived Ike! I like in Nacogdoches and we're still without power too - I just cleaned out my fridge today, and it was pretty traumatic. I did a similar post-hurricane post on my blog, if and when you have power/are interested.

Hope you get your electricity back soon!

jennycestcake said...

Those trees are beautiful! I'm so glad most of them made it through...

What a bummer to think you had power again and then find out you didn't.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that your power comes back soon!

shellyfish said...

I'm just so glad to hear you two are safe and sound! We just take for granted that everything will be ok and that it's "just a storm" when we hear things on the news...but when it's in your yard, well, you really take stock and get a chance to be thankful.

I hope you're reconnected soon and will be able to eat a hot meal!

Amey said...

i'm glad to read a post from you. I've been thinking about you and worrying about you! Even though I haven't ever met you... funny, huh?

The pictures are so incredible. Isn't it amazing how much havoc Mother Nature can wreak on our lives and homes?

I hope that you get power back soon, and that you find a good ice source in the meantime.

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Oh myGod, I am so glad you are OK!!!!!! Just like the pictures I saw on tv, these pictures look horrible! You know it's bad when Starbucks has to close!

vegan addict said...

Happy to know you are both safe and well. Despite the damage in your neighborhood, the area still looks so green and pretty!

VeggieGirl said...

THANK GOODNESS that you are alive, well, and able to blog about all of this - PLEASE know that you can contact me if you need anything (I'd love to hear from you anyways, since we haven't chatted in a while, my friend!!).

Animal-Friendly said...

Wow- some of those pictures are astonishing. I'm sooo glad to hear that you were alright and didn't suffer any major damage, but this experience must have been quite scary!

And I'm sorry to hear about you having to throw away your leftover wedding cake before you anniversary :( At least you have your safety, even if the power is still out.

Vaala said...

Wow, that is pretty amazing. Your pictures really helped show what it is like so thank you. I'm really glad to hear you guys are all okay and you didn't sustain much damage. It must have been pretty scary.

Carrie said...

Glad to hear you are okay!

Vegetation said...

I'm so glad you are okay!

Awesome photos, thank you for sharing (I have a strange fascination with all things tornado/cyclone/hurricane).

vegetalion said...

Whoa, that looks insane. I'm glad you and your home avoided damage!

Ricki said...

Glad you're okay! Those photos are pretty arresting. Wow, it does take one aback to see what the damage could be. Glad it was minimal!

Veronica said...

Again, I'm so glad to hear that you are okay, and that you and your home managed to avoid a lot of damage!

It seems really scary, but I hope everything manages to recover.

Jan Scholl said...

The last two storms Gustav and Ike also made their way into Michigan in the form of horrendous rains. We have passed the high water mark and other than my whole yard being a mud bath (along with the dogs) we did fine this time. I always think of power outages as adventure time, even when the kids grew up. We had a tornado last year and lost power for 5 days and it was stuffy but we don't use AC at all-just not my thing-even if it was 90F. When the storm cleared, the stars were so wonderful.
BTW-the next town over from me is called Montrose. That was sorta shocking.
Be well.

Holler said...

Hi Amanda, I am glad you are ok and your house wasn't damaged.The world just seems to be going crazy right now. Nature and man! Your post was interesting, as weather like that never reaches us. We just have lots of rain. I hope you power comes on soon :)

Hannah said...

Intense! I've never experienced a hurricane, so I can't even imagine this whole scene... I'm so glad you're okay!

Lisa (Show Me Vegan) said...

Thank you for the updates! I've been wondering how you are doing. Hope your power is back soon.

The Veggie Guy said...

Wow... I'm glad you are all okay. Strangely, we saw much of the same thing clear up in Ohio on Sunday... lots of downed trees, missing shingles - the wind even tore our gutters off!

Anyway... I hope your power is restored soon!

Bianca said...

Oh, I'm just glad ya'll are okay!!! And sorry to hear about the wedding cake. That sucks. Anytime I lose power, I immediately start freaking out about losing my freezer stash. Hang in there and hope things return to normal soon!

aTxVegn said...

I'm so glad you and your family are all okay. It was scary to watch from 200 miles away - I can't imagine what it was like for you.

Russell said...

Whoever gets her power first treats the other one to dinner. :-)

Ruthie

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

Ohh, Amanda! This is nuts. I'm glad you're safe & your belongings are in tact. Maybe I can make you a replacement anniversary cake slice? xo.

Nikki Douglas said...

Oh girl I know what you've been through. That was what it was like when Mom and I went through our terrible two years of hurricanes in Fort Myers, FL (being only really pummeled by one thankfully).

We stayed during that hurricane and it was one of the worst experiences of my life. The house felt like it was going to shake apart and shingles were ripped from the roof. Mom and I eventually ended up in the hall bathroom (an interior room) with her on the floor and me in the bathtub. It was utterly surreal. We had both cats in there with us and the entire house felt like it was being blown apart.

The devastation was intense. The island of Sanibel was practically de-treed. Horrible. The landscape of the place changed drastically and will not be back to its former glory for many years.

The power was out for 10 days. We went to Fort Lauderdale and stayed in a Residence Inn until the power came back on. We lost two freezers worth of food.

We were shell-shocked but only until we saw all the buildings torn-up in nearby Punta Gorda. We were so lucky.

Take care and stay healthy. Glad you are both ok and didn't sustain any major losses.

Carrie™ said...

Luckily you, John and your family are safe. Canada very seldom gets hurricanes. We got remnants of Ike, which was basically a windy rainstorm. When I was young, we got the tail end of one. I remember it being a bit wild, uprooting small trees, breaking branches, signs being ripped off posts, and that was after it had run out of steam. I can't imagine a full force one. Scary stuff.

Stacey and Sergio said...

I'm so sorry about your wedding cake! This is probably a dumb question - but were you guys going to eat it on your anniversary? I know nothing about wedding traditions! I suppose it worked out to our advantage that we've both been lazy and unmotivated - we hardly had any food in our fridge! Still haven't been to the store. We promised though that once things are back to normal we'll try to cook more interesting meals like you! I'm really glad you guys are ok and your home wasn't damaged! We should try to have a post-Ike potluck one of these days! While we were without power all we talked about was food!

tofufreak said...

Seems like Ike is causing lots and LOTS of trouble. We had some minor issues here in the midwest (no power, some without water) but nothing as bad as what actually happened in TX of course. Glad that you guys are okay of course! (and eating well; your hurricane hash components sound super yum! hehehe

hope everything goes well for you!

Melody Polakow said...

glad you're OK....

It is very humbling to see Nature's Fury!

The Vegan Snorkeler said...

Hurricanes are so frightening... I'm glad you are OK!

Cakespy said...

Oh my, I am so glad to hear you guys are ok. I was really displaced during my flight but this is helping put it all in perspective--sure, I had delays, but a lot of people got hit pretty badly! Hope you're all up and running soon.

Bert said...

Amanda, hi

Hope you get the power back soon; we just got ours on Saturday night. What a relief. I will have to shell out a few $$$ for the roof but it needed to be redone anyway... All in all nothing to what the real victims of the hurricane are facing.

Vivacious Vegan said...

Wow, what an ordeal and how very scary. I would have freaked out if I had woken up at 2am and seen that fire so close to our house. I'm happy to see that you weathered the storm without too many problems.