Saturday, 13 September 2008, about 6:30 a.m., from the front door. No, it's not Venice, but Grand El Jefe Boulevard is now El Jefe Grand Canal. The driveway gate at left is visible at the right of the earlier photograph.
As readers have noticed. I haven't been posting a lot since things returned to more or less normal around here. Mea maxima culpa.
Here's a brief recapitulation of events since the Kingdom went dark following Hurricane Ike.
When Ike arrived for his visit, I was in the midst of a post, and lost power at exactly 1:19 a.m. I know because, oddly enough, I was looking at the computer clock when the lights died -- not to be on again for five days. It was back to the 40's without newspapers, where the only sources of news were rumor control and the AM radio.
We were lucky, and suffered no real damage. I had not been terribly concerned about the storm, because I had seen the wind charts predicting, at most, 60 or 70 mph winds for the central Cuidad El Jefe area. The Palace is stout and well-built, and I expected a broken window or two, some shingles down, and the odd branch blown around. The wind speed predictions were a little off -- central Houston got winds of about 100 mph. We escaped, however, with a few downed branches and a shingle or two missing. Many, many others, however were not so lucky.
Ike was so HUGE. He came on shore at Galveston about 2:15 a.m., an hour after we lost power; mostly following I-45 from Galveston towards Houston, obeying traffic regulations and mostly keeping to the right side of the road, his eye passing east of central Houston. Anyway, Ike was slow, and he took forever, it seemed, to go by.
The family was scattered in various Hurricane hides throughout the house, with El Jefe and cat FLINKY in a bathroom with the AM radio and a flashlight. El Jefe passed the time reading an old friend (Colleen McCullough's The Grass Crown); listening to assorted crashes and booms outside, one of the other cats howling her concern; the Heir doing his Chatty Cathy thing while SWMBO was trying to sleep; and frantic callers into the local a.m. station wondering if the eye would ever pass them so that the winds might stop for awhile.
About 5:40 a.m., the winds died a little, and the rain started. We were all wanting the sun to come up so we could see how we stood, and about 6: 30 a.m., it finally got light enough to see. . . and we discovered that the street was filling with water. We live in a low spot, near some storm drains, and because of all the downed branches and leaves, the drains were having trouble keeping up with all of the water coming down. For about a half-hour it looked as if we might get some water in the house.
About 7 a.m., we spotted somebody coming down our street in a very loud yellow raincoat, with boots, a shovel, and waders. He went to the drains and started pulling debris out of them. I was dressed in shorts, but I immediately went out and started helping, and pretty soon, most of the neighbors turned out to do the same.
Standing in stomach-high flowing water with all sorts of lovely stuff floating in it was quite an experience. Near the drains, you could feel the water being sucked in -- falling would not have been a good plan. Some of the overhead wires didn't look too secure either: even though the power was out, I was a little concerned a wire might fall, and turn us into fried shrimp. Fortunately, there were no falls of any kind, and we soon had enough branches, shingles and other assorted materials (including somebody's gutter) pulled out of the drains so that the water level receded a bit. I acquired a lovely set of fire-ant bites, which was okay -- I was just happy not to see any snakes.
We stayed near home the rest of the day, thankful to have survived, gathered around the radio listening to what news could be had. On the second day, our friend T and her family (they got power back quickly), took us in for a few days, for which we were all very grateful.
While we were disconnected from the world, so to speak, Wall Street had its conniption, and I have been playing news-catch-up. In general, I haven't felt much like writing, partly because I have been behind on my reading, and on work; and partly because of an attack of the blahs. In any case, this is the last of Ike. Thanks be to God that we came out of it so well, especially as so many did not.