Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Our Ike Experience

Boy was I fooled thinking I'd be able to blog through the storm. Yes we had power via the generator but no internet! Duhhh! Some people think I was a blonde in a previous life. I will start where I left off...

Friday evening---our hurricane guests started arriving around 6pm...bringing with them beds, extra tv, batteries, water, snacks, and moral support. We started having intermitant power surges around 7pm. I would count to 15 or 18 and the power would come back on so we continued on with our game of cards and the kids played "Rock you like a hurricane" on guitar hero. The winds and rains started around 8pm. By 11:15pm when the power went out and I had counted to 25 I knew this was the beginning of the loss of power for an unknown amount of time. However, we did have Greg's Iphone for entertainment! He pulled up some old emails that his friend Mark Massey sent...you know the ones that get forwarded to you that someone forwarded to him that someone forwarded to him, and so on. Some of them had us all in stitches. By about midnight the kids and my mom and grandpa had gone to bed. Just in the knick of time because the conditions outside worsened. I remember at one point during what we thought was the worst of it Dawn asked the question something like "who's bright idea was it to hunker down through this storm?" The husbands looked at the wives as Dawn and I pointed at each other...and then we laughed and the guys said "just we thought!"

We were watching the local news on the battery operated black and white tv and about 1:30ish the eye was directly over Galveston and all was calm there and would be for the next 1 1/2-2 hours...so we had something to look forward to-NOT! Galveston is only about 28 miles from us so the eye would theoretically reach Friendswood in about 2 hours. So we waited...and waited...it was about 3am and still blowing like crazy. Sustained winds reached about 85mph with gusts up to about 105. We sat and waited for the windows to shatter so that we could patch them ...I just knew we would regret not boarding up. I had been up for almost 24 hours and couldn't take it anymore so I went in the bedroom and crashed out. I woke up a few hours later with the rains and wind still around 50mph and learned that at the last minute Ike jogged to the east...this was good and bad. Good because it forced the storm surge to the east side of Galveston Bay instead of the west side where the community is that my school is at along with all the parents and students and many of the staff members live...Bad because that meant we in Friendswood never had the benefit of the 2 hour calm of the eye...we got the west side of the eye wall continuosly until the storm finally passed around 11am...Good because the west side is the "clean" side. The amazing thing...the kite in the tree in our front yard has been stuck there for about 3 or 4 years...and it's still there!

On the menu tonight: grilled chicken breasts, sausage, mac and cheese

Saturday---We are so blessed! Not lucky...BLESSED. We lost alot of fence and a lot of shingles off the roof. No problem...until Sunday morning when it rained! The roof started leaking over the entry way. Thank goodness it only rained for 3-4 hours. It also moved our air conditioner unit. It didn't move it totally off it's pad, but it did shift it several inches.

We started our new life living with a generator...trying to save as much food from the others refridgerators and freezers and cooking it as fast as we could...which was faster than we could eat it! But we gave it a good shot!

Chad was the official "toast master"

We ventured out Saturday around noon to check on mom's, grandpa's, aunt Jan's, and Dawn and Jerry's places. It took a while since alot of the streets were blocked by downed trees and power lines. But in the end the damage to their homes was minimal as well...gutters and fences and a few shingles. And once again we realized how BLESSED we were...as was the majority of our area. Of all the trees that we saw down I would bet 90% fell away from homes and cars...that's why we couldn't get around the streets very easily. It was truely an amazing sight every time we turned around.

After lunch we checked out some other areas of town to see the devistation. Unbelievable as you probably agree after seeing some of the media coverage. By the way, we found that ice machine in the parking lot that Dawn swore she saw on Nasa Rd 1...it was really in League City.
We never lost water which was wonderful and we have a gas stove, oven and hot water heater! YEAH! That helped a ton when it came to cooking and HOT showers! Saturday's temperatures were hot and humid making things very uncomfortable. We finally had to put sheets over the leather couches so we wouldn't stick to them. Our friends decided to go back to their house that night to sleep in their own beds instead of on our couches...but they still did not have power. I think the important part was that we were all together during the storm.

Greg and I decided it would be more comfortable to sleep under the stars on the trampoline...and we were right.

On the menu tonight: ribs and sausage

Sunday---still no power at the Pemberton house. We thought Dawn and Jerry and the kids would be back over for breakfast...sure enough Dawn and Logan and Bryson pulled up about 11am honking their horn and waving fresh hot donuts out the window shouting "we've got the power!" Their power had been restored. They live right behind Walmart and Sam's Club...what do you expect! The celebration was a little premature since after about 2 hrs they lost power again...no we weren't laughing at them, we were laughing with them.

The only one that sustained bodily injury through the whole thing was Chad. He went outside and a stray dog jumped on him and he didn't have a shirt on. We doctored him up and convinced him he would live.

For some reason our land line went out and the cell service of course was hit and miss so I went to my mom's to place the dreaded call to the insurance company and get that process started (which is sure to be long and complicated).

On the menu tonight...brisket

By 9pm the power was restored again and it stayed on this time so we went and visited with them at their house before returning to our trampoline to sleep yet another night without power!

Monday---Waking up we found at some point Chad decided to join us on the trampoline.

Knowing the community in which I work and Chad has several friends and classmates was hit very hard, we wanted to do something to show them we were thinking of them and their stuggles ahead. Dylan also had friends in the area since he attended school there last year. We made sack lunches to deliver in the Clear Lake Forest neighborhood behind our school. We didn't know if anyone would want them since we didn't get to the area until around 1:30 but that didn't matter. It didn't matter if we saw anyone we knew or not. I loved this lady's shirt...if you can't read it it says "my kids think I have money coming out my (you fill in the blank)... and then it has a $100 bill between the cheeks! I couldn't stop laughing even though it is a little graphice. Back to business...I didn't know who lived in what house but I knew the families in that neighborhood that I have come to know and love from working at the school for now my third year. What a great experience we had. We sat in the back of the truck as Greg drove up and down the streets so we could offer what we had. We only ran in to three families that I knew but fed many others. We wanted to go to some other neighborhoods but ran out of food and couldn't get in to Nassau Bay unless we lived there.

While we were passing out food, Ty helped grandpa clean up the branches out of his yard. Grandpa said he worked his tushi off. I am so proud of our kids.
I know there will be many more opportunities to offer service in the future.

On the menu tonight: steak and shrimp
(Chad joined us all night on the trampoline Monday night!)

Tuesday---Greg headed back to work at 6am this morning. He works at Hobby for Continental Airlines. They didn't have power in the hangers but they were able to clean up twisted meta and debris. Greg was in charge of creating a white board for employees that had damage to their homes to list their names and needs and others could sign up to help them or leave names and info of someone they know that might be able to provide a service for them. What a great idea, honey!
I was woken up at 8am by Ty pouncing on the trampoline yelling "we have power!" And from that moment on the washing machine started and it didn't stop until about 9pm. And the only scare was when I was putting the last load in and the power went out...before I counted to 3 it was back on...sigh.

After dinner tonight Ty and Greg climbed on the roof to put a blue tarp over where we are missing the most shingles. We are expecting rain this weekend and he is leaving Thursday night for his hunting trip and I didn't want to take the chance since we know the insurance company won't be getting out here anytime soon.

As I put the last load of clothes in the dryer and reflect on the whole Ike experience, I count my many blessings, and name them one by one:

*we are all safe and so are our friends and family

*the kids fell asleep before the worst of the storm
* the sun will come out tomorrow as it did after the storm

*at least Greg wasn't hunting during this hurricane like he was during Rita
*life was definately more bareable thanks to the investment of the generator and gas appliances

*cool fronts that came through on Saturday that provided wonderful weather for opening windows to air out the house and also perfect weather for sleeping under the stars on the trampoline

*we were prepared and didn't have to wait in lines for gas and food and ice
*the money we saved by having all the stores and resturants closed we can put towards our insurance deductible

*we know what to expect next time we decide to "hunker down"
Thank you to all of our friends and family that checked on us continuosly via texting offering us a place to stay and anything they could do to help. You are all loved and appreciated.
As for what we will do "next time", remember a few posts ago I referred to the "Rita factor"...next time, I'll make the decision to evacuate or "hunker down" based on the "Ike factor"!

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