My Experience With Hurricane Ike III - The Recovery Begins

By
Real Estate Broker/Owner with The Real Estate Choice

Sunday September 14, 2008 - 8:45am

Woke up (WIDE AWAKE) around 6:30 and jumped out of bed ready to work!  Too bad...thunderstorms rolling in (more feeder bands from Ike) and I've only got minutes before the bottom drops out of those clouds!

Went next door to assess the damage.  Tree did bust through the roof in 2 places that I can see.  I'm going to need:  Sheetrock & paint all ceiling & ½ the walls in the living room, Couple of joists & beams in the attic, couple of squares of decking and shingles, carpet in 3 rooms and baseboards in the living room & part of the dining room.

 

215 Roof Hole

 

Moved tenant's big screen & wedding pictures out of harms way.

Obviously, with these storms, we're not going to remove the tree just yet!  (dammit!)

I did clear out a good amount of limbs from my back yard...should only have about another 15-20 minutes back there and another ½ hour next door in the back yard & I'll be done with limbs (other than those attached to the downed trees).

I REALLY hope insurance will cover MY roof as well.  Not sure about their criteria, as I'm not much of an insurance kind of person, but I had damage from falling limbs, 1 leak and about 10-15% shingle loss.  We'll see!

60% chance of rain today (all day) but "heave rain" should have already gone through this morning.  High of 83 Monday & Tuesday...that will help!

Mayor made a report about crime (and the rumors of looting).  Police chief reported that 30 arrests had been made.  When he broke it down, there were 4 liquor store robberies, 2 pawn shops, 3 domestic violence...all were your regular, every day police calls, NOT LOOTING!  Mayor made a good point, "I wish I could say liquor stores don't get robbed in major cities across America but they do!  And that doesn't constitute looting!"  He also thanked the citizens of our community for already having much of the debris stacked next to the curbs...most have removed it from the roads & gutters, allowing water to run off and traffic to flow.

I have noticed an enhanced sense of pride in cleaning my yards as well.  I already take pride in my yard but this is different.  I feel a duty to my neighbors to get my yard back in order asap.

 

Yard

Yard II

 

3:45pm

I'm one tired bitch!

Since my plans to start chopping up a tree @ 8am were foiled by mother nature, I decided not to waste the mood and used the energy to clear all limbs from my back yard (besides the 2 that are too heavy & require the use of my stepdad's chainsaw).  Since it wouldn't stop raining, I was forced to do this all in pouring rain and lightening - which I DO NOT RECOMMEND!!  There was nothing safe about it and it was pretty trying on the nerves!  I finished right about the time the rain stopped and was plum BEAT (another southern term, I believe, like ‘hunker down').  Thought it would be a good time to walk the dogs before it started raining again.

We walked to the waterfront part of our neighborhood...the point at the back of our neighborhood where water was rising 24 hours prior to storm arrival!!  THIS is our "ground zero!!"  I have no other words for it...there's no way for me to put it into words and these pictures, as shocking as they may be, really do it no justice.

The storm surge must have come just below the roof lines of most of these homes because the roofs are in no worse shape than the rest of the neighborhood...BUT - the houses are all completely stripped to the studs by the surging water!  If it wasn't attached to the slab, chances are it was strewn about the neighborhood or drawn out to sea by the tide.  This house is right on the point.

 

 

The highest concentration of this debris - consisting of splintered lumber, bricks, shingles, appliances, personal belongings & furniture from these homes, as well as homes from no telling how far away and many elements of the surrounding landscape - remained mostly where the water crested...these temporary dunes where debris was pushed to a high point just before the water receded. Much was caught in garages and in corners of yards with fences, where it floated in above the fence and wasn't able to get back out before the water lowered.

 

  

 

It was dead silent other than the wildlife and the sound of water crashing onto concrete slabs where water heaters, tubs & sinks were ripped from the houses and water was free to flow from the open lines in what used to be walls!  I turned off the open line I noticed in the house closest to me, only to realize it was just the only one I could hear at the time...the identical sound was coming from both houses on either side of me.  I realized I was fighting a battle I couldn't win.  I also realized if water lines were open, gas lines probably were too!  Time to jet!!

 

 

I really wanted to take pictures but didn't have my camera at the time.  If I can make it back out I'll get as many pictures as two AA batteries will allow!

Look around your house...what's in the room you're in right now?  What's in your kitchen?  Your garage?  Attic...study...laundry room...storage shed...workshop???  These are the things I ran across today in places it SHOULD NOT have been...in trees, in yards, in boats, on roofs, on top of cars, collected in corners or yards & inside garages and patios!  To top it off, I saw a dog, looked like a big lab or small Great Dane, on top of a house!  Scared to death, wet, hungry and shaking!  The fire department was in the neighborhood checking houses for people, pets or bodies and I left it in their hands.  Needless to say, I'll be following up on the dog on the roof later today!

 

The Pot

 

 

I found this to be very disturbing.  You might think, it's just a pot with water in it, you idiot...pretty simple, right?  Did you notice the spoon in the pot?  The spoon got me to thinking...this pot has obviously traveled a great distance for a pot, to have moved from some kitchen (who knows where...the nearest house was about 250' away) and come to rest here, on the side of the road, full of water with a spoon ready to stir.  Was this spoon in the pot when it departed the kitchen from which it came?  Do you expect me to believe that THIS is the same spoon that was in the pot at that time and not a completely different spoon, from a completely different kitchen in a completely different home?  HOW?  How could this spoon have made the trip, safely and in-tact for the duration of this pots great journey?  Even if the spoon is from another family's house & kitchen...what are the chances it would come to rest here, in THIS POT?  For me, this put a ‘face' on the ugliness of all the personal anguish to follow, as residents return to this area to see what's left...and what's not left!!

 

4:52pm

AAAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH!!!!  I needed that (cold) shower!  YES - it's been two days...DON'T YOU JUDGE ME!   I've been busy...I'm conserving water...whatever, I don't need an excuse, it was GREAT!  I took the shower by candlelight and it was very relaxing...something I should do from time to time even when we have power.  The flickering light of the candles was soothing and the relaxing environment did immeasurable good to my mindset.  Taking a shower is a great suggestion for anyone in a stressful situation where they're not in control, especially a shower by candlelight!  And if it's hot and there's no power, make sure it's a cool or cold shower to bring your core temperature down...it really does wonders!

As great as it was for a meditation break, I ended up spending the second ½ of the shower thinking about the things I still have to do in the immediate future...it's just such a long list of hard work that has to be done...pretty daunting right now, won't be in a couple of days though!

About to go enjoy slow smoked BBQ ribs, tater salad, black-eyed peas & green beans for dinner!!  Loving the hurricane menu, though I have been reduced to this good evening meal plus a couple of snacks throughout the day...granola bar, sandwich or something like that.

I was pretty cocky & confident before the storm..."Most overhyped category 2 EVER," I said!  Well, it wasn't a horrible storm but it was a HUGE storm with a deadly surge and hours of strong winds...it really did a lot more damage than I expected and all the hype really was justified.  I'm not saying everyone needed to leave but some did and many shouldn't come back yet!

 

Good endorsement for those blinds...durable!!

It's times like these I remember why so many Texans have trucks, SUV's and other "bigger than your average state" vehicles.  We were on the roads before the storm even had time to clear out.  High winds, sideways rain, slick roads, high water, flying debris & mini-tornadoes...please!!!  No match for the Suburbans sittin' in my driveway!  Can't tell you how many high-riding, mud tire sporting, more lights than Vegas, 50-gal gas tank in the bed having, lift kit rigs I've seen driving around these past 2 days...that's all I've seen on the road!  And THAT's why Texans drive big trucks!

 

6:06pm

SMELLS LIKE RIBS!!!  Good, I'm starving!

Still pretty blown away by the sheer destruction in my subdivision. 

 

Look at the water line on the roof!

Imagine body surfing, if you've ever had the opportunity to go body surfing.  You know how it is at the end of that perfect ride...when you catch that big wave right at the crest and it grabs you and carries you as if you're floating...and then crashes you into the surf and tumbles your helpless body out of control until the wave passes & you resurface to swim back out for more torture another perfect ride!  From the time that wave grabs you and takes you for a ride, it's very clear that you have no control over the situation whatsoever...the power of the water has you and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it, you're at the mercy of the water.  That's how the 2-3' waves in Galveston make my 6'2"/225lb body feel.  Now imagine that wave is 15-20' tall and crashing through your front door for 10-12 hours!!  This is the only thing I can relate to that storm surge...there was nothing those homeowners could've done to prevent what happened other than get their self and their stuff out of the way altogether.  Those houses are just gone...their foundations with studs holding up roofs...everything else is gone!

What really can't be duplicated by word, picture or film is the amount of personal belongings strewn about everywhere...it's in the woods, in trees, on cars & boats, stuck to fences, in the street...everywhere!  This is people's LIVES all over their neighbor's lawns and in the streets & ditches!  Some folks are coming back to NOTHING!  It's impossible for you or me (as close as I am to it all) to imagine, unless you've had it happen to you.

 

 

 

7:20pm

City officials say approximately 2 weeks before electricity will be back on.  I would be amazed if we go a week without power...but driving around town, I notice there are HUGE issues with the infrastructure...down to just about every stop light.  Those that didn't get blown away altogether have at least one or two lights missing and/or they're hanging on by the last wire that held on through the storm.

 

This is why our neighborhood has no power.  This is one of about 20 just as bad or worse!

 

9:30pm

Back to candlelight, no a/c or fans and only the sounds of neighbors generators running.  Next time, there will be a whole section dedicated to "how much easier this storm was than Ike" because I'll have a generator and be that much more prepared!

It's a very pleasant 65 degrees outside tonight...if I could only get the main room of my home to that temperature, we'll be alright!  Bedroom is already adjusted (lots of windows) so sleeping won't be an issue.

I really don't have any complaints overall to this point.

Power is back on in parts of town:  ExxonMobil (right away, of course), hospitals/healthcare facilities, businesses in high concentration areas and residences without much damage that were quick & easy to restore.

We were one of the worst hit and, from what I can tell, probably have as much damage as anyone who still has poles (didn't wash away).  In addition, we have a relatively small population relative to the rest of the city...we'll probably be one of the last to power back up.  I'm hoping for some SERIOUS pull from any city officials, utility workers or contractors living in or with family in the neighborhood to help move us toward the top of the list!  And I claim to not rely on government for things...HAH!

 

Another in our neighborhood.  CenterPoint will have to cut down the trees before starting on the lines.

 

I noticed on the way home from supper that Dollar General near my house has to be THE most popular place in Baytown tonight!  Cars are lined up around both corners...I could see what I figured to be about 250 cars before they went around the corner & out of vision.  Not sure what they're lined up for that's so popular??  Water...groceries??  HEB is rumored to be open as well.  They're supposedly letting in 5 at a time to buy whatever they have on the shelves...no power, no produce or cold stuff and cash only because they can't run the registers.

Personally, I don't want to have to figure out how much you'd have to pay me to go to either place.  I bet it's interesting, if you're into that sort of thing...I'm not!  Dairy Queen's back up & running with power.  Jack in the Box is still down.  Jack and his employees left a day before the storm so the families would have time to evacuate (since it was mandatory!).  Good for Jack!!

PODS (points of distribution - set up by FEMA, Red Cross, etc) are in the process of being set up tonight & tomorrow.  FEMA's responsible to get supplies into Houston and to these PODS to be distributed to other areas and to people that drive up to pick up supplies (water, ice and military food - MRE's, meals ready to eat).  Those supplies arrived this afternoon into Houston, 36 hours after the storm.

In my opinion, a LOT of people are working hard for free to get this done and our leaders are having to defend their every decision to these damned reporters every day!  Seems to always be one or two in the group that focus on anything negative, no matter how big or small.  They've got a hard enough job right now without having to deal with those vultures (but I guess they're used to it by now...part of the job & it comes w/the territory).

 

Monday September 15, 2008 - 3:21pm

Another busy day moving limbs and trying to put life back together again.  Got my contractor lined up to do the work at the rental property.  Ball is rolling with insurance claims.  Notified Comcast that cable lines are down.  Put last week's garbage out (again!).  They're supposed to come today, as usual, but I bet it will be slow going with so much volume.  Just got a call & contractor's starting demo right now...WOO HOO!  That's the biggest benefit of taking care of your contractors on EVERY job!  I'll do something for the tenant to make up for the lost week.  Although, I hope to have work done only days after power comes on.  We'll see how it goes.

I'm exhausted!!  The more limbs I move, the more it seems like there are!  Did I say only 15-20 minutes more in my back yard and only about 1/2 hour next door in the back yard?  Yeah, right!!  Didn't realize there were that many limbs to fall in those 2 yards...some could have come from anywhere!

I considered going to a POD today (Dollar General, that was so popular last night...it's a POD!  No wonder!) to get ice & water & MREs but I figure it's best to leave it for those who really need it.  I get a bag of ice from my mom's freezer each night, have about 10 gallons of water left and a pantry full of canned foods, soups, tuna, peanut butter and bread.

It was sooooooooo pleasant last night I can't wait until the next night that's nice enough to go with no a/c & only windows open...that should be tonight!

I managed to sneak back into ‘ground zero' for pictures...I got quite a few.  Cops have that part of the neighborhood blocked off but they haven't figured out the back way yet, so I can still sneak in & snoop around, for now.

I still say these pictures do it no justice but they'll give you a much better description of the destruction than I possibly can.

Comments (2)

Anonymous
Marilyn Litt

I am looking for owners who lost their pets and are unhappy about the rule adopting all rescued animals out after ten days.  Anyone who is concerned may contact me through http://www.stealthvolunteers.com

Thank you and keep strong everyone.  It may look like the country has forgotten you, but Texas cares.

Oct 13, 2008 05:12 AM
#1
Kevin Miller
The Real Estate Choice - Baytown, TX

My pets stayed with me, as they ALL should have stayed with their owners (staying or leaving) during the storm.  If an owner leaves their pet behind and another family steps up to adopt, the pet is probably better off if the original owner didn't care enough to locate them within ten days!  Heck, I can't imagine leaving mine in the first place but I would SURE track them down within 10 days (or TWO days...or even ONE)!

Would you leave your children behind?  If you did, wouldn't you try to locate them pretty quickly?

Please don't miss my point here, as I am a devout dog owner and I work to rescue dogs daily.  Sounds like you feel the same about animals but we have different views on what's best for them.  It's a daunting task that usually is created by owners that don't properly care for their pets in the first place.  That being said, the best thing for these pets is to make it back to their original owners, as there are waaaaaay more homeless pets than there are petless homes.  But I don't feel sorry for an owner that 1) leaves their pets behind and 2) doesn't try to track them down asap.

I've found that when returning a lost pet to it's owner, that owner usually cares less for their own dog than I do.  For example, I rescued a 10 month old Chocolate Lab during the storm and had him for 24 hours.  The owner couldn't believe that his dog knew how to sit and walk on a leash when he picked him up from me.  10 MONTHS and the dog still didn't know how to sit and had never been on a walk.  It only took 5 minutes to teach him to do each.

Again, wouldn't feel bad if the pup got adopted right out from under that family.

I hate to get distracted from the topic, as the pet issue is a whole new blog for me, but I was pretty happy to hear about the 10 day rule, in which the clock doesn't start ticking until the pet is placed in a foster home, from what I heard when the program was initiated.  So, in reality, most of these pets will still be there when thier owners finally decide to track them down.

Oct 13, 2008 08:16 AM