Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Aftermath of Ike

My storm story is a mild one compared to some of the people I came across in San Antonio and since I've been back in Houston. We made it out of Houston early Friday morning (9/12) with no traffic delays at all. All the people who got out earlier on Thursday evening had to deal with lots of delays and an extra day of hotel expenses. The weather in San Antonio was wonderful, and I was even feeling a bit guilty when we stayed up watching all the horrible news from back home. It almost made it worth it to see Geraldo Rivera falling down in the 100+ mph wind played over, and over, and over...

We stayed in a pet-friendly hotel (Red Roof, for anyone who wants to know) - or at least, they claim to be. There was no room service, so you have to leave to get food. We came back on Saturday after being gone for about 3-4 hours during the middle of the day to a handwritten note on the door about leaving my dogs in the room unattended. Considering the loud children who kept playing in the hallway, the ear-piercing smoke alarm that went off unprovoked in our room TWICE, and ALL the other people who had dogs in the hotel that did not get nasty little notes on their doors, I don't think I'll be going back there again.

We did meet up with several people from all over the Southeast Texas, Houston, and the Gulf areas. There were lots of people who lost almost everything, and most who just didn't know when they could return or what they'd be returning to. My prayers go out to all those people, and it made me feel quite lucky considering what could have been.

Many people returned to Houston on Sunday, same as us - despite the urging on the cable news shows not to. I knew my route into town was clear, otherwise I might not have attempted it. We passed convoys of supply trucks, debris removal trucks, ambulances, and other various disaster relief vehicles heading into town. Kudos to those I saw getting out of those vehicles' way, and shame on those who were not letting them in or riding their bumpers, not allowing those of us who pulled over back on the road. Gas was already getting scarce on the way into town. We filled up 100 miles west of town, and there was only premium left at the one station open.

Life in town is slowly getting back to normal as people are going back to work and clearing debris. Most of us are without power (me included), but we've seen none of the craziness like the Katrina fiasco. There was one shooting in Pasadena over gas, there has been some looting here and in Galveston, and some FEMA confusion over where to get food, ice and water. Mostly people seem to be helping each other out, and dealing with the situation with a positive outlook. The unseasonably cool weather helps everyone tremendously, and I hope it sticks around long enough to see most of us through the widespread power outage. All things considered, it could have been MUCH worse.