Wednesday, September 17, 2008

An Ike Wrap-up (Almost)

Well, there's good and bad news to report on the people I know who got hit by Hurricane Ike.

First of all, my parents in Friendswood turned out to be some of the lucky ones. Not only did their house not see any major damage, but after losing their power early Saturday morning, they miraculously had their power restored Sunday night, when most everyone else in the Houston area was in darkness. We don't know why they got back on so quickly -- they aren't near a hospital or fire or police station -- but we're thankful. Now, all those heavily frozen and nearly petrified mystery meats down at the bottom of their freezer in the garage will not have to be thrown away. They can be preserved for study by nutritionists of future generations.

My wife's sister and her husband and daughter left Waco Monday afternoon for the long drive back to Humble, north of Houston near Bush Intercontinental Airport. They reported that it was very hard to get through because of all the downed trees and other damage all around. As of this morning, they are still without power, although because they have natural gas service they can take hot showers and cook some meals. Another blessing is this cold front we had blow in over the weekend, making the temperatures bearable, but I'm not sure what they do at night when there's no lights and no TV or computer. You can't even play Monopoly if you can't see the board.

Another of my wife's friends who lives near Humble in a place called Kingwood is also without power, and they have been without it longer because they stayed to ride out the storm. You can tell from this woman's e-mails how tiring and depressing it is being without electricity. They are thankful, however, that no trees fell on their house as they did elsewhere in their block. (She sent Mrs. Muley some photos of damage in their neighborhood, which I will display at the end of this post).

When I lived at home in Friendswood as a kid and for awhile as a college student we rode out a few hurricanes, and sometimes they were fun (when winds and damage were slight) and sometimes they weren't. Friendswood made national news back in the late 1970s when I was living there when a tropical storm that hit us stayed forever and dumped something like 18 inches of rain on us in a few days, causing what experts termed a 100-year flood. Our house, which was high above a creek and had always managed to escape big floods, got hit that time with about six inches of water inside. It was a pain having to cut out all our downstairs carpet and roll it out to the curb, and even more of a pain to walk on concrete slab for six months until we finally were able to get new carpet and flooring installed. But even that minor inconvenience was nothing compared to what so many people in Houston are dealing with now.

I think I'll try to talk about something else in my next post, because I'm tired of talking and thinking about Ike. But I'll hopefully remember to let you know when all my family and friends are somewhat back to norm al. And I appreciate all the prayers and kind thoughts from those of you reading these dispatches.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ike Update

Well, as far as Waco goes, we got just what I figured we would, based on past experience and the weather reports. If you didn't know there was a hurricane to thank, I'd say we got some much-needed gentle rain and a few cooling breezes.

But, for family and friends in Southeast Texas, things are not so great. My parents in Friendswood lost power overnight -- as did millions of people in and around Houston -- but luckily no trees fell on their house and no water found its way inside. They are lucky, although with the predictions being that it will take days or even weeks for power to get restored, they've got to figure out what to do with hundreds of dollars worth of worthless refrigerated and frozen food, and where to relocate until power is restored.

Mrs. Muley's sister's house, I'm afraid, fared worse. They live in Humble, just north of Houston, and we hear they lost all the big pine trees in their backyard, and had roof damage with rain invading their dining room and upstairs master bedroom. My two nephews stayed there and rode out the storm, so at least they will hopefully be able to do some kind of repair and salvage. But they are without power as well, so it makes it hard to fix food or pass the nights easily.

We have other friends and relatives in the Beaumont-Port Arthur area, which I hear got really drenched with the "dirty side" of the hurricane, but so far we haven't heard through the grapevine yet how everyone made out. They, too, decided to ride out the storm and not evacuate.

I'll post again when I hear more. Tonight, my 12-year-old daughter INSISTS that we go see her newest favorite movie, "Get Smart," with her at the dollar theater, which will be a trial (I hear it's bad), but an easy trial to sit through compared to so much real suffering elsewhere.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Waiting for Ike

If I finish the Branson story, it will have to be later.

Everyone here in Texas -- at least the eastern half of the state -- is waiting for Ike, most with trepidation of varying degrees, some with total indifference. It seems evident at this hour (3 p.m. Friday) that Galveston Island will pretty much be under water before long. As in totally under water.

Mrs. Muley is watching live coverage from one of the Houston television stations, and there is already water in the streets of Kemah, a little town along Galveston Bay near NASA that has an amusement park and boardwalk we have taken our children to.

You would think everyone in Houston would be either gone or trying to get out by now, but my own family proves this idea wrong. Mrs. Muley's sister, her husband and their daughter are here with us in Waco, arriving today. However, their two adult sons decided to ride out the storm at their parents' home in Humble.

My own parents, meanwhile, who tried to evacuate during Rita but met with gridlocked highways and ended up turning back, have strangely decided to stick their head in the ground on this one. They live in Friendswood -- smack between Houston and Galveston -- but even though Mrs. Muley and I have told them that televised reports have repeatedly said Friendswood is under forced evacuation, they maintain that since they have yet to get some sort of automated message on the phone from the city telling them to evacuate, there really is no requirement to leave.

I and Mrs. Muley have both tried to convince them to leave and come stay with us, but it's apparent now this is one of my parents' stubborn quirks that we will not budge. Of course, I know what will happen. They'll come out fine -- maybe a small tree blown down and a little wet carpet -- and they'll tease us forever afterwards about what over-reactors we are.

Anyway, that's the situation here. I'm looking out the window in my new office (we recently were moved to the seventh story of a building overlooking the Brazos River) and the sky is blue with lots of puffy white clouds. I'm betting all we get here is some strong winds, no rain, but we'll see. Pray for all the folks here in Texas who will fare much worse.