Surviving Hurricane Ike was a bit harder than I had expected. Although the news media gave us Houstonians (and the surrounding areas) plenty of warning, we still thought deep down that it would not be as bad as it was; but we were wrong. It was bad, very bad.
The night of the hurricane our house shook, the wind made noises I never thought possible, and I swore I heard a tornado – although none actually came through our area. Our windows shook and I prayed they wouldn’t shatter; debris landed on the roof and I prayed a huge tree wouldn’t come down and take us with it. The rain poured harder than any thunderstorm I’ve ever been in; and the water came down horizontally – which made for a very ugly mess in the morning.
I heard water dripping inside the house so with our flashlights we snuck out of our “safe house” and looked up at our master bedroom ceiling only to spot a leak from the attic. We immediately went up into the attic with flashlights, towels and pots to control the leak despite the fact that it was 4:00 AM and it was about the time when the eye of the hurricane was just passing over our neighborhood. My husband took up as much wet insulation as possible and did his best to dry the area, but we later learned this was just one of the problems caused by Ike.
A few hours later I heard another ‘thud’ on the roof; this time the damage was worse. The water had seeped in through a stain glass window in our attic as well as a dormer, and it leaked all the way down the walls and into the hardwood floors. I noticed white powder coming out from the floors and knew there was a problem with the sheetrock. I was smart enough to call the insurance company to make a claim at 5:00 AM. The funniest part about the hurricane was the fact that Euri, our newly adopted dog, took advantage of the situation and slept on our mattress which was now on the floor in our “safe room.” He wouldn’t even move over to let us sleep – at least he wasn’t anxious or worried; he just wanted to hog the bed.
Of course our power went out the night of the hurricane as well as our water. Fortunately I filled the tub up with water the night before (just in case). This came in handy when I wanted to bathe the next day. I filled up two bowls: one for washing, one for rinsing. I felt like I was living in the 1800s. The day after Ike we thought things had settled down but we were wrong: another front came by and brought us thunderstorms with heavy rain – just what we didn’t need. Unfortunately, the water damage worsened due to this unexpected rain. Our drainage ditches were full and spilled onto the driveway; our back yard was just one big puddle; our flora on the side of the house was flattened out; a tree tipped over; and the water that was leaking in the ceiling and walls became worse. Even our hardwood floors started to buckle.
The next day we walked through the neighborhood and assessed the damage: it was bad, very bad. We were fortunate compared to others who had huge trees go through their houses, and smash their cars. Sidewalks came up off of the ground; signs and street lights blew away; and tree debris was everywhere. Our roads were even blocked by trees so no one could get by. Power lines were literally on the ground and roofs were ripped off. It was like a war zone.
We drove around the following day to see how other areas fared and I noticed that the areas with more money had their power on. My husband thinks I’m wrong, but I strongly suspect that the most influential neighborhoods got their power turned on more quickly. The strangest site was seeing the Katy Freeway (I-10) completely flooded. If you didn’t know it was a road, you’d think it was always a river. There was one high-rise building downtown that had most of its windows shattered and glass was spread throughout the streets. There were power outages throughout the city; and even a curfew was put in place to keep looters off of the streets.
It was similar to the movie War of the Worlds – obviously no aliens had tried to take over, but Mother Nature certainly did try to destroy Houston. So yes, today I can say, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”