I had just started keeping a journal about 2 weeks prior to Ike's arrival. I was also in the process of establishing my 'blog identity' and figured a journal of me riding out the upcoming storm may be an interesting first blog. So here 'tis! I started two days prior to the storm and will post a day or two at a time from this post until about 3 weeks after the storm...when power was restored and life actually returned to some resemblance of 'normal.'
Looking back, I think most people were expecting a much stronger storm (more rain & flooding) but didn't expect 2-3 weeks without power. Either way, it was a very impressive storm and did more damage than any I can remember in this area. I was only blocks from what I can only refer to as "Ground Zero." Yes, it suffered that type of destruction! Pics will start showing up in the next post in this series.
Wednesday September 10, 2008 - around noon
It's become obvious that in the next 2-4 days we'll either:
Get a category 3+ direct hit
- OR -
Get a category 3+ near miss
Either must be treated exactly the same, as a near miss could actually be worse than a direct hit. It's really just a big (200 miles wide, in Ike's case) tornado. The only questions being how high will the winds & surge get?
Whichever the case (hit or miss), you have one important decision right off the bat...stay or go? My general rule of thumb is leave for a big category 3 or worse. I'll more than likely ride out any category 3 or smaller @ 20' or more above sea level...unless I'm right on the water.
If your decision is to go...GO NOW! Pack up anything that you can't live without, anything that's alive, get as much gas, water, ice and BENEFICIAL food as you can carry and GO!
If you're staying, you're going to need plywood NOW, before it's gone (about 36 hours prior to storm arrival). Get enough to cover all your windows...get more if you can. I got mine a little early today but I'll wait until we know if we need it or not before taking time (about 2 hours) to put it all up.
Time to gas up all vehicles, lawn equipment & gas cans.
Get essential groceries...some of what I got: tuna, bread, crackers, granola, water, ice & peanut butter
Don't forget about your pets! Be sure you have enough water for them (up to a week's worth), treats, toys, bedding...and have it all ready to travel in case you have to leave suddenly. Be sure they get plenty of exercise beforehand...chances are they'll be idle for a few days during & after the storm.
Jesse (pack leader)
I've got three dogs, err...they've got me! If I go, they go!!!
By the end of the day, news reports will have it pretty well narrowed down to size & approximate landfall location. Definite decision to stay or go by the end of the day today!
Thursday September 11, 2008 - 10:05am
I'M STAYING!! IT'S PREP DAY!!
Time to board up those windows!
Get files together & secure...backup EVERYTHING in as many locations as possible
Have battery powered radio available with extra batteries...and make sure it works beforehand or go get one!
Stay in tune w/TV or radio for updates
Take insurance "before" pictures, inside & out - save in multiple locations & keep on camera
Secure ALL possible projectiles...wind-chimes & hanging plants INSIDE!
Mow yard & clear natural drainage alleys for improved water runoff
Clean house, if you get a chance and remember to get plenty of rest
Friday September 12, 2008 - 9:45am
Just returned from our morning doggie bike ride and walk. New route this morning to the coastline properties in our subdivision back by the boat ramp. These are the properties right on the water...that's bay water, as in Galveston Bay (actually, it's Burnett Bay but it all branches off Galveston Bay). Water is up about 5-8 ft already...piers and lower level streets are under water.
Long day yesterday...slept like a baby last night! Good...I'll need that stored energy later!
We're under mandatory evacuation in this area. My house, though only about 8-10 blocks from the coast, sits about 25-28ft above sea level. It would take one hell of a storm surge, the likes of which we've never seen in this area, to get my floors wet!
At this point, it appears about 20-25% of all residents have decided to leave and ride it out elsewhere.
Looks like about 35-40% of all homes have the windows boarded up and about 1/3 still have their trash on the curb from yesterday's cancelled service (so city workers would have time to evacuate).
Our scheduled limb service isn't set to happen for another week but the city sent a crew through our neighborhood earlier in the week to clear out limbs from another storm that recently blew through & caused quite a bit of damage. Good thing...Ike's a monster and it looks as though we're going to take a direct hit.
I'm amazed at how many ‘projectiles' (in addition to the trash mentioned above) are still in people's yards! People just left town without concern for their belongings...or what their belongings may damage when they fly through their neighbor's car, or house, at about 100MPH!!
There was quite a bit more traffic in the neighborhood this morning than normal. Not sure if it's due to more people being home (work cancelled for evacuation), more people leaving & getting ready to leave or maybe some people up to no good looking for the best places to loot after the storm blows through(??).
West end of Galveston is under water. We're just getting decent cloud cover & gusty winds about ½ the time. Very hot sunshine, no breeze, the other half of the time.
Expected to start declining in the next 2-4 hours...poo expected to hit the fan around 10-12pm. Eye should hit between 3-6am and it should rain & blow until around noon tomorrow. It should be very bad for about 3-4 hours, calm & quiet for around an hour and then very bad for another 4-6 hours.
I expect to lose about 20% of boards from windows, minor roof damage (shingles) and many limbs down. I just hope no trees fall on the house and no water gets into the house...from above or below!
Hurricanes are a very slow moving phenomenon...a good time to EAT!! Try to avoid the urge to eat. As ‘excited' as you feel, you're actually bored stiff...watching the same information broadcast by the same people over and over again until the next newsworthy event occurs. For 3 days leading up to the storm, updates are coming every 4-6 hours. IF the storm actually comes your way, updates increase to every couple of hours the day of arrival. You sit, watch & listen to the same stuff over & over...and you eat, sometimes without realizing it! I stock up on a bunch of stuff I don't like...so when I go looking for a snack I leave the kitchen discouraged.
You're not only bored but you're stressed. You've just prepared for the worst case scenario, if you're staying, and that can be trying on your noggin! Good time to meditate, if you do that sort of thing. Walk the dogs, watch a movie, mow the yard (you'll be glad you did), read a book, do some work, write a blog, write a poem, clean house...DO ANYTHING BUT EAT!!
Staying away from the news for a while does a lot of good. They like to keep revisiting the worst case scenario on the news.
Just put up both neighbor's trash.
It's awesome when people call and offer you a place to stay during the storm:
• College roommate offered his home in Austin
• A friend & client offered her vacant inventory, away from the coast, for me to stay.
• Grandmother in Oklahoma
• Aunt in Llano
• I was blessed with options
Several friends & neighbors have stopped to say they're near. Everyone makes sure to wave to each other, say "hello" or stop & talk...it's refreshing!
Several neighbors made sure to let me know "we're here if you need us!"
Going for one more bike ride with Buddy. One last indication of how many people are staying, windows boarded, projectiles & trash contained.
City informed us sewage services to be cut off as of 2:30pm. Notified by phone...didn't call me, not sure why?
Filled tub to have extra non-drinking water on hand
Shut off electricity @ rental next door so no fires or any other problems powering up or down arise. Also put boards on windows for tenants...I'm a pretty good landlord!
Tenants went to San Antonio to ride it out. I'm willing to bet there's not much knowledge on 'hunkering down' in San Antonio...nor does there need to be!
Contractor & friend I work with just called to see if I was riding it out and if I needed anything. He's staying on of the investor's houses since his family would otherwise have to ride in out in a trailer here in Baytown...good decision!
Nothing like a disaster to remind us there IS a pleasant side to human nature.
Wind is picking up...feels like 30-35mph gusts w/about 20mph maintained.
Clouds covering 90-95% of the time. Very light sprinkling off & on for past 2 hours city wide.
Surge in Galveston is about 12-14ft...just getting to top of 16' seawall (waves are breaking over the seawall).
Wind has picked up significantly. Probably 45-50mph gusts w/30-35 sustained winds.
Few big, old (okay, dead) limbs fell in front yard. A meteorologist last night summed it up best by saying "our coast hasn't had a good 100mph pruning in 25 years!" (Hurricane Alicia)
In addition to the high winds, a big storm surge and tornadoes are the "gotchas" of this storm!
Noticed my main power line has a big, heavy limb leaning on it. When it gusts, the tree leans on it more and puts stress on the pole and on the duck head atop my roof...that can't be good!! I should lose power and will probably have a hole in my roof very soon! Looks like I'll be grilling a LOT in the next 24 hours as my freezer thaws out.
I'm not really afraid of tornadoes. I do what I can to stay out of their way but the way I feel about them...if a tornado gets you, it was just your time to go. There's nothing you can do about it when the time comes, so why worry about it...there's plenty else to worry about in a hurricane that you KNOW is going to effect you for sure!
I officially decided to stay, even with the threat of power failure. I almost went to stay at my mom's house but she won't have A/C either, if power goes out. I wavered for about 2 minutes but I have no regrets about staying...it's too late to turn back now anyway! J
I hate night storms...you can't walk outside & ‘read the skies' to see what's coming. It's just getting dark, one hour early I might add, and it reminded me I'll be up until about midnight tomorrow night! I also like watching the trees to see when/if they fall and do any damage. A lot of times there are little things you can do to remedy a situation that could worsen if not for minor effort.
I partially chose to stay in a non-power situation so I could have a good and accurate first blog!
FORECAST: 70-90MPH sustained winds with gusts up to 130 for 8-12 hours. "Its going to be a very long night" -Frank Billingsley of Channel 2 News
I just jacked the a/c down to 50 to cool this place down as much as I can before going no telling how long without electricity...and no telling when it's going to go out so I should've started cooling it down much sooner!
Pitch black outside!
There seemed to be about 30% population left here in the subdivision when we last rode around. More than half the windows are boarded up and there are still a lot of potential projectiles.
Something empowering about hearing an authority figure explain "you are on your own...we will not come get you!"
Boy the wind is really kicking now! Looks like a storm's a brewin'!
Power's been out about 15 minutes. Surprisingly, the line hasn't snapped (yet). Had to stop & meditate about 10 minutes...reminded myself this is what I prepared for. There's nothing else I can do now but react. So I'm going to take a short power nap and then 'hunker down' for the night!
I'll be surprised if I get power back in the next 36 hours...probably more like 3 days. Like I said, that's what I planned for!
Just realized why I should've got an ice chest full of ice! Guess I'll just eat a LOT of chicken tonight!
CAMPING AT HOME SUCKS!
Next round of events to expect are increased winds, more rain (still not raining here!), a lot of rain, fallen trees & limbs and flooding.
Passed out from sheer boredom around midnight! Didn't seem to get much worse from about 9 to 12 but really got hairy about an hour ago (woke me up!).
The eye must be approaching...Yep, just confirmed via radar on my BlackBerry (greatest tool/toy ever!!).
Also just confirmed with a flashlight that a big tree fell through the front door of my rental property next door!
Many big limbs down all around the property and surrounding properties
Will go outside to get a better idea when the eye arrives.
My house seems fine right now.
Sustained winds 50-75 mph with CRAZY 100mph+ gusts.
Insane, sideways, Forrest Gump-like rain. Looks like a movie (but more entertaining and kinda scary).
This has to be the most over-hyped category two of all times! I didn't want those to be my last words so I waited until I was fairly sure I'm going to make it through the storm before mentioning it!
Funny to hear so much resolve in the voices of the radio/TV commentators. No more mass hysteria & panic...everyone seems almost ready to start the cleanup efforts.
Okay, I'm bored again!
The calm of the eye is creepy!
I went ahead & moved some limbs around to free up plants & get them off the siding & windows.
Should have another 30-45 minutes of the eye left. I think I'll eat! J
I just heard a HUGE CRASH near my office...what the hell was that?
Nothing inside and I'm not going out to check on it yet!