Here are some articles on what has been happening in Houston and Galveston after Hurricane Ike. Like some of the people in the articles, like a true Texan, I barbecued as well, to keep our meat from spoiling. My family as well had to seek out any store that was open that sold ice and bottled water, not to mention batteries. Of course, those commodities sold out a lot because of the major loss of electricity in Houston, Galveston, and surrounding towns.
Cooking by candlelight was interesting, as I would get as much if any cooking, done before it became too dark. After a while, the candles ran out, and we had to scrounge the open stores nearest us for candles. Stores that were open were completely out of candles—-even matches. Since matches, like candles and batteries were impossible to find, I lit candles the only way I could: turning on a gas stove burner, pulling off a piece of newspaper, rolling it up, lighting it from the gas flames, holdling it to the candle wick, then, voila, lit candle. I also picked up two kerosene/oil lamps at a bargain, but, after setting one of them up, and havimg the flame burn too high, having the globe become dark from soot, then having the flame flicker and sputter till it went out, I then returned to the last of the canldes.
Eating one of the MRE’s was quite an experience. These are the meals that our women and men in the military eat. The MREs were given out by relief agencies to people to eat due to lack of electricity to refrigerate food.
Following the directions on the packet, I was able to “heat” up a meal to eat. (These meals come 12 to a box.) The one I tried was a “Sloppy Joe”. It contained the meat sauce packet, jalapeno cheese sauce, whaet bread biscuit, salt. The meat sauce packet you put, unopened, into another packet with a hydrogen cloth that would activate with the addition of water, to heat up the meal. The meal was not bad. The meals come with a hot and a cold powdered drink, cookie or brownie, mints, washcloth, to name just some of the items in each MRE.
By Friday evening our lights were back on. You really know how much you miss electricity when you have two refrigerators to clean out. Talk about a horrific job. After tossing the spoiled food, disinfecting with cleaner, rinsing and drying, both fridges looked brand new. Foodless. but, clean and ready for more food.
Living through a storm that had winds that reached up to 110 mph, was quite an experience. But, I am a survivor.
And so too, are the millions of fellow Texans who got through this hurricane and took care of each other so well.
The following are articles on the aftermath of Hurricane Ike.
Are we our brothers, and sisters keepers?
Many Texans certainly proved that this past week.
Now we must pick up the pieces and get on with our lives.
The fatigue and stress are finally catching up to me.
Tomorrow is another day.
But my (our) spirit and resolve is certainly not lacking.
POWER IS SCARCE, BUT HOUSTON’S SPIRIT IS NOT LACKING
Michael Stravato for The New York Times
HOUSTON — Kimberly Sykes finally threw out the gumbo she made the night Hurricane Ike slammed this city. For a week, she and seven others in her family ate it by candlelight, trying to keep it cool during the day with what ice they could scrounge up.
Michael Stravato for The New York Times
But when a fetid smell arose from the stew on Thursday, she pitched it into the street, scrubbed the pot and braced herself for another day of foraging for an open grocery store, for ice, for bottled water.
“Every other day we have to find a store, because we have to re-up the food,” Ms. Sykes said, as the three children in the household wandered aimlessly through the kitchen with bored expressions.
For almost everyone in Houston, last week was a lost one. With winds of 110 miles per hour and a high flood of seawater along the coast, the storm paralyzed the nation’s fourth-largest city. Millions of people were without electricity, even a week after the hurricane hit. Sewers failed in scores of neighborhoods; a few communities lost running water as well.
Most people spent the days after the storm in a mad scramble to find ice, gasoline and food.
With schools closed, children have struggled to entertain themselves. The office towers that teem with oil company executives were shut down until midweek, and small businesses had difficulty reopening because their employees were busy patching up homes or caring for children.
In hard-hit neighborhoods, people banded together to barbecue what fresh meat they could find and to sit outside under the stars and talk. For some it was an eerie but welcome change from the glow of streetlights and the endless chatter of television sets.
“These storms have their pluses and their minuses,” said John Frazier, a construction worker from the wrecked suburb of Seabrook, as he popped open a beer with neighbors sitting in plastic chairs outside his flooded house. “The plus is it drew all the neighbors together.”
Like an accident victim coming out of a coma, the city has been returning to life. The downtown glitters with lights, despite boarded-up windows and doors. More and more gas stations and groceries are opening.
Some people have returned to work in office jobs and at refineries, even if their clothes are wrinkled and their homes dark.
Priscilla Deleon, an accountant with Universal Plant Services, said her office was operating on a generator, which meant that the workers there could not use coffee machines and that the computers kept flickering. “Everyone there is a coffee drinker, and we cannot drink coffee,” she groaned.
Others had no workplace to return to. The road in front of Noah’s Ark, a popular restaurant in Baycliff, had washed away, and one waitress, Chris Riley, found herself wondering what the future would hold. “I don’t get paid if I don’t work,” she said. “And I don’t have no money.”
Employees at High Fashion Fabrics in downtown Houston returned to the shop on Thursday to find that leaks had ruined $80,000 worth of silk. Across the street, a sister store that sells home furnishings could not open because it still lacked power.
“It’s stressful because you are used to a certain routine,” said the manager of the fabric store, John Levan, 34. “It’s like someone throwing a wrench into the plans and things are all out of sorts.”
People with electricity took in family members and neighbors without. Jacquelyn Randle’s home in a working-class subdivision in west Houston became a refuge for her son and daughter, a son-in-law and a grandchild, as well as friends.
“It’s kind of like a family reunion,” said Ms. Randle’s son, Dalton Lewis, 44.
When Ms. Randle’s weary guests arrived, they flocked to her bathroom to bathe and then trooped to the kitchen to fill their bellies with something hot. She fed them baked chicken, macaroni and cheese, mustard greens and lettuce-and-tomato salad.
“Something like this makes everybody come together,” said Ms. Randle, 63. “We’ve all had bad luck in the past. Now, I can help somebody else.”
In Pasadena, just east of Houston, the Soria family home was the only one in the neighborhood with a generator, and there seemed to be a party going on. The smell of carne asada rose from a barbecue.
The dining table was surrounded with members of the extended Soria clan — more than 20 people — many of whom had been sleeping on the floor of the house since the hurricane hit.
The festive atmosphere belied a frustrating week of coping with the hurricane’s aftermath. Six days after the storm, the family still had no electricity and the ceiling in the living room had fallen in.
Michael Stravato for The New York Times
Michael Stravato for The New York Times
Every day has been a struggle to find an open grocery store and an operating gas station, said Armando Soria, 34, a technician in a radiology lab.
“It’s hectic,” Mr. Soria said. “We have to manage with what we can. It’s a hassle trying to get gas. We need milk for the kids, food.”
Some people, however, had no family to depend on when the storm hit. Janet F. Jackson, 80, lives alone in a single-story house. She had surgery to repair a heart valve last year.
When the storm roared into Houston early on Sept. 13, the wind was so loud she awoke and then stumbled from bed and huddled in a hallway. Then three large trees crashed into her roof, punching holes. Water poured in. The ceiling collapsed.
“I am still in shock,” Ms. Jackson said. “I’ll tell you, I started stuttering a little. I forget things.”
Neighbors came to the rescue. The family next door fed her and helped clean the rubble out of her kitchen. A couple down the street, Joe and Margaret Riley, took her in. “We couldn’t find a hotel,” Ms. Jackson said. “I’m surviving through the kindness of friends.”
Some Texans responded with a skill bred in the bone here — barbecue. Dewayne Loving transformed himself into the resident barbecue chef for his small apartment complex, which went without power for a week.
Mr. Loving cooked on his two barbecue pits from dawn until dusk, taking in donated meat from neighbors whose freezers were thawing. The food was distributed to people in the complex.
“From the time I get up, there’s somebody at the door with some meat who don’t want it to spoil,” said Mr. Loving, 56, a retired Houston native, as he drank a beer. “Everybody is bringing their meat to me.”
Mr. Loving was not the only one donating his time. Thousands of volunteers stepped in to hand out food, water and ice at distribution sites organized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, after federal and state officials said they could not staff all 60 sites.
Others, like Reginald Dugas, 45, were what might be called incorrigible givers.
Mr. Dugas was handing out food every day to needy people in the parking lot of the University of Houston football stadium, after working an all-night shift as a clerk in the prosthetics department at a veterans hospital. He was only catching a few hours of sleep in the afternoon.
Mr. Dugas said eight people, mostly neighbors and family, were staying at his one-bedroom house, because he had electricity. His biggest problem, he said, was finding a working cash machine so he could buy gasoline.
“I am down to $8 with no gas,” Mr. Dugas said cheerily as he handed people their rations. “Right now I am down to empty, and my concern is how am I going to make it to a gas station and be able to wait long enough to get to the pump.”
Some shops went to extraordinary lengths to stay open. Several H.E.B. grocery stores opened on generator power the day after the storm passed.
Other shops escaped unscathed, like McCoy’s Fine Cigars in downtown Houston, a local institution where on Wednesday the owner, Mike McCoy, and a friend, Richard Carper, enjoyed a smoke and talked about the hurricane.
Mr. McCoy, 54, said he moved to the nearby Rice Hotel the day of the storm when it became clear his house in Lake Conroe would be without electricity or running water for some time. Mr. Carper, 50, a supervisory clerk for the Harris County Criminal Court, lingered in the shop, slowly puffing a Dominican cigar, because he had no electricity at his house near the Houston Ship Channel.
“I’m in the dark for another week or so; we are living out of a cooler and wearing wrinkled clothes to work,” Mr. Carper said. “I just came by to smoke a cigar and get some light before I go home to the darkness.”
For others, the impact of the storm was much more profound.
Fishermen like Jose Centeno, 52, in San Leon, a community on Galveston Bay on the southern outskirts of Houston, not only lost their boats, but their houses and other belongings as well.
Mr. Centeno, a bearish man with viselike, calloused hands, wept as he surveyed his fishing boat, the Texas Express, tossed onto a dock like a toy, two pilings sticking up through the hull.
“Very difficult,” he spluttered.
“Could be 15, 20 thousand to replace. I have been working here for 15 years,” and his voice trailed off.
The Centeno family’s home was flooded with four feet of water. Mr. Centeno; his wife, Maria; two daughters; and three grandchildren have piled their waterlogged belongings onto the lawn.
Mrs. Centeno said they were surviving on the military meals the National Guard was handing out and were sleeping at a friend’s house. She tries to keep the children clean with mini-baths using bottled water. They are bored, with no school and no television. One carries around a tiny Chihuahua named Bully.
“We have to have lots of patience, especially with the children,” she said. “They don’t understand what happened. They can get sick touching any little thing.”
Returning to Galveston
Galveston officials announced Saturday that residents would be allowed to return Wednesday starting at 6 a.m. Those whose property is behind the seawall will be allowed to assess the damage and determine if they wish to remain, said the city manager, Steve LeBlanc.
Those in areas not behind the seawall, including the city’s battered west end, will be allowed to assess the damage and gather important belongings but must leave, Mr. LeBlanc said. Those areas do not have basic services like water, sewer, natural gas or electricity, he said.
Jamaica Beach, a town of 1,120 on the western side of Galveston Island, on Saturday started allowing residents to return temporarily to view their property, according to its Web site.
SOURCE: The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com
HURRICANE IKE AND THE AFTERMATH OF THE STORM