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.
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.