Recovery Day and Thinking of Galveston

September 17, 2008

Today is a busy day.  After I took Nevin and Mariska for a walk, I jumped in the car and drove over to HEB Plus.  Eggs!  Milk!  Bread!

The line for their gas pumps went around the parking lot and backed up along Business Center Drive: Much better than yesterday, when they routed it back behind the store onto Memorial Hermann Drive, the equivalent of four or five blocks long.  HEB is probably the only place with gas in this end of Pearland.   Fortunately I filled the car’s tank on Thursday and haven’t driven since then.  The truck has less than half a tank left, but at least we don’t have to drive much.

Now that the power is back on I need to do some cleaning.  The fridge is cold, but it doesn’t really smell very nice.  More importantly, I need to evaluate my backlog of work, prioritize it, and start getting back to business.  I wonder where is the closest open post office or BofA branch…

We’ve been very curious about the status of our old home and neighborhood in Galveston.  Frank from Channel 2 did a walking/driving tour of downtown and some of the East End that was very revealing.  It’s about a half-hour video.  It looks like things can be repaired, except that people have to get back there very quickly to greater damage from humidity and mold.

Frank talked to a couple who had a house at 17th and Church where there was about six feet of water.  Nearly all the houses are elevated to some degree, so the level of water inside varies.  This would have been almost two blocks east of our old house near 19th and Church.  The Chronicle said that the 1861 U.S. Custom House at 20th and Post Office had eight feet of water inside.  That was about the same distance from us, a block west and north.  I’m guessing there would have been around seven feet of water in our street.  With the elevation of the yard and the house, there would probably have been at least three feet of water in the first floor.  The garage, of course, would have been flooded.

That’s not enough to destroy the house, although obviously most of the first floor contents would be a loss.  However, if the house cannot be cleaned out right away, mold damage might require the entire house to be gutted.  Since the Island’s “look and leave” program has been suspended, it’s not likely that the current owners will be able to clean up anytime soon, unless they happened to stay instead of evacuating.  We did sell them our generator when we left, so perhaps they were able to stay.

The big trees in the yard did not fall.  I found a post-storm photo of the neighborhood here, and I located the house.  However, I can’t tell from this whether any large branches might have fallen and damaged the roof.

I can understand people staying.  The time available once the evacuation had actually been called, and what it takes to board up and prepare for the storm might well have prevented people from leaving until it was too late.  Additionally, the memories of the Rita evacuation debacle — our motel reservation was canceled, we found room at a friend’s place by sheer luck, so many others were stuck in traffic — were fresh in everyone’s minds.  Many also remembered not only the bus explosion that killed those elderly evacuees in Rita, the largest source of deaths in that storm, but also the several recent bus crashes in Sherman and elsewhere.

If we were still living there, either we’d still be on the Island now, or else we would have tried to evacuate at the last minute.  I’m glad we’re here instead, but God help all those who are on the Island now and those who are waiting to go home.

2 Responses to “Recovery Day and Thinking of Galveston”

  1. pawsinsd Says:

    I found you on the WordPress “Ike” blog. I’m the lion(ess) above your piece. Thank goodness you’re OK. I heard enough to try your HEB today but have a change of plan. My mother is in the hospital with cancer and she has decided it’s time to die so we’re leaving sunny Houston for NoCal. Perhaps when we return we’ll find it easier to obtain gasoline.

    Our power only went out for about four hours but we didn’t have water until Monday evening. Since then we’ve been lending out our shower and cooking for friends who have neither power nor water.

    Keep up your writing. I never expected to be a blogger either but my husband set me up a few months ago and it’s helped with my writing. Take care and stay away from hurricanes, Dee

  2. robertangelo Says:

    Thanks, Dee. When things get back to normal I’ll check out your recipes. 🙂

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