Greetings all! This will be my last post on Hurricane Ike. My wife thinks I am crazy to keep making these posts about the hurricane. She says no one could possibly be interested in this. I disagree. But just in case, I'm wrapping it up. I'll return to posting theological stuff soon. But for now, I thought I'd update you on what we have been doing since the storm.
The storm made landfall at about 2 AM. The eye passed just east of us a couple of hours late and kept moving north. We were all up and about by 7 AM or so to survey the damage. As I mentioned before, our power was out. The rest of the day, we put the house back together and sat around and read. The kids discovered something that Jennifer and I had known as kids: non-electronic play. By this, I mean things like blocks, toys, and a deck of cards; things that are not plugged in. (I'm exaggerating; they often do things other than play on the computer or watch movies. But now, they had no choice but to do only that!). In the late afternoon, we went out and picked up shingles and other debris. I also raked the yard.
Of course, every grocery store and gas station in the area was closed. Since we had stocked up on food and filled our tanks, this was not a problem. The house got awfully warm, maxing out at about 85 degrees with 100 percent humidity and almost no breeze. But it could have been much worse! We used only bottled water and the pre-Ike tap water that we had stored, because the city suggested that the tap water might be contaminated.
Needless to say, we went to bed very early!
In the morning, Jennifer and the kids stayed home and I drove to St. Joseph's. I took the Sam Houston Tollway, and it was totally clear. Unfortunately, I forgot to take my church keys, because I had taken Jennifer's van and her keys. When I arrived at about 9:00, there were about 6-7 people waiting in their cars, but no Fr. Matthew. He finally arrived at 9:20. He had been trying for nearly 3 hours to get there (normally it takes him 20 minutes), but kept running into impasses caused by high water. He and the parishioners who were there did a little cleanup while I did the proskomedia. We served the Divine Liturgy on schedule, and by the time it was done, we had nearly 40 people (not bad for such a day!). Since the church had no power, we opened all the doors; still, Fr. Matthew and I were both dripping in sweat by the time it was over.
That afternoon, a handful of stores, restaurants, and gas stations began to open. The few open gas stations had lines of cars that in some cases were blocks long. And, as I mentioned earlier, our electricity came back on at about 6 PM. Our neighborhood was blessed to be among the first in town to regain its power.
More stores, gas stations, and restaurants were open. Our friendly neighborhood grocery story (HEB) had a very long line stretching back from the one door that was open. The main entrance was closed, because it was right below a big sign/facade that was decimated by the winds.
It was interesting to see so many people out and about. We spoke to many of our neighbors. We had not even known the first names of some of them, despite our having lived here for six years. As I drove around, I noticed an unusually large number of people out and about. Crowds of teenagers roamed around, up to nothing in particular. I stopped at our friendly neighborhood Chinese place and picked up dinner. We ate very well that night -- the first time we did not eat something out of a can in days!
In a quest to get things looking normal again, I propped up the parts of the fence that had fallen and mowed the yard.
Still more stores and restaurants open. Jennifer and I drove to a Super Target in Pasadena and were able to get quite a few groceries. The only thing we weren't able to get there was milk--but thankfully, we found some at another store on the way home. We also bought a new modem, and this resulted in us having internet again -- hooray!
Jennifer has been able to get a good deal of schoolwork, and I have had plenty of time to read.
Regarding work, the school district where I work is going to be closed all week, and possibly some next week. Only about half of the campuses even have power, and many (including Audrey's school) are heavily damaged. So, I am enjoying the chance to get extra rest, spend time with the family, and read and pray more. I'm thankful that I am being paid. I feel for those who are not able to go to work and who are not getting paid. I also hurt for those who still don't have power (still about 50% of the Houston area), those whose homes are heavily damaged, and especially those who can't even get to their home.
Please keep praying for those in this area who are suffering. Thank you for your prayers for us.