Sunday, January 2, 2011

12 Days of Hell - Hurricane Ike

John Marine | 1/02/2011 04:59:00 PM | |
(UPDATED: September 12, 2012)

What you are about to read was saved in a file long ago and was initially intended for my Myspace blog. However, I want to offer this to all of you here in my personal blog. I wrote a few journal entries as I was without power. The following material all involves the material I wrote up. This is an intimate look at what Hurricane Ike was like for me as I've dealt with days without power.

REMEMBER: Most of the material in this blog post is very old. Some material has been added to make the post more expressive and modern.

--- A Hurricane Ike Journal ---

Hurricane Ike damage
^ from: - Hurricane Ike brought lots of devastation to the Houston area when it arrived in mid-September of 2008.

It wasn't as if I experienced the absolute worst of Hurricane Ike. I did, however, find out what it was like to live without electricity and have to rely on generator power. What you are about to read features some of my own comments that I had posted a long time ago.

The following material was posted a long time ago and never released until now. And, it was initially intended to be posted on my blog on Myspace.

September 12, 2008.

Power went out at my house around 10:10 PM CDT on 9/12/2008. Even before then, I unplugged my computer. I took my flashlight lantern with me to go into the living room. I took my portable radio with me to get a better listen to the news report on ABC 13. The winds began to pick up through the evening hours. Past midnight, the winds were very intense. I was too young to remember Hurricane Alicia the year I was born. Over the night, I tried to sleep through this. I think I tried to sleep in my room, but it was too hot. I even tried to open a window in my room and let the blinds down (just so you know... I HATE Venetian blinds!). Problem was that the mist from Ike's winds went onto the back of my computer. So I quickly shut the window to prevent possibly the computer malfunctioning from lots of water. I had no choice but to sleep in the living room. All the while, trying to sleep while getting a view as to what Hurricane Ike was doing. I couldn't sleep until almost 6:00 AM CDT.

September 13, 2008.

I woke up around 7:55 AM CDT whereas the activity lessened. The really worst stuff was done by about Noon. With no power in my house, I had to get some stuff to fan myself with. All that led to was my arms and hands eventually getting tired. I noticed that my backyard had almost the entire fence taken down. So my backyard was sharing about four others. The thing I hate most about no backyard? It means you have to put up with other peoples' pets (mostly dogs) that have no business in your own backyard. I had to go out later and clean up lots of leaves and branches in my driveway and front yard. The water pressure was minimal. I knew that weekend was going to be tough. No electricity is depressing to me. It's like my youthful self got increasingly old and feel like life is just passing me by. I had to listen to stuff like the Houston Dynamo at the San Jose Earthquakes on the radio. Nothing bores me than short days. I am a night person, and when the night gets short, days become much more boring. Saturday is my favorite day of the week. Nothing depresses me like a bad Saturday. I was even BORN on a Saturday. Another depressing thing... my SanDisk Sansa Clip wouldn't boot up (and still doesn't to this date). So even as Hurricane Ike impacted not being able to go to the club or hear a good broadcast on the radio, I was unable to have my Saturday night dance music fix. Sad times...

September 14, 2008.

Sunday that weekend was a very bad one. Ike was gone, but so was our power. I'm scared of dogs. Yet I still have to rake up leaves and such from my backyard. What was bad for me was that the two dogs from my next-door neighbor concerned me. And when I picked up piles of leaves from my backyard, I ended up having fire ants on my feet as well as on my ankles (mostly my right ankle). I immediately went into the bathroom to dunk my body into the chilly leftover water in the tub. Later that day, I took my first outing into the streets after Ike rolled through. I've seen trees snapped, telephone poles tilted, a few downed power lines, trees uprooted, fences damaged, walls damaged, roof damage, gas stations all with wilted tops, and all kinds of other calamity. I got my first look at Pearland Town Center even though it was closed. A nearby HEB store was trying to stock ice. Looking at the shelves... I noticed a lot of shelves cleared or mostly cleared. Valuable material like meats, water, and things like that were pretty much gone. Even as ice was being brought into that HEB we visited, I even noticed the Pearland police strapped with shotguns and an AK-47 rifle. Some time later, the store was announced as being closed. So we all headed home with more groceries. We have even had some good eats.

September 15, 2008.

Monday was a day of change for all of us. Just about all of my family that I live with stayed home for Monday except my stepfather. He brought home a Honda generator from a customer. We've relied on generator power to offer some semblance of hope of restored power. We would all find ways to better utilize the generator in the coming days. At least we could use this to make good use of the basic plug-in devices. We basically needed to round up all the extension cords and surge protectors we have at the house to make really good use of the generator. Still, I was missing a lot of cable programming. I was even missing being online.

September 16, 2008.

Another day missing normality. While hope for power to be restored was fading away for us, at least I was starting to see people roam the streets as well as cars traveling down the street. Some kids may have been playing outside as well. At least having this intact will help maintain some sort of normality.

September 17, 2008.

I think we began hooking in the TV to the generator via various extension cords and such in the living room. A problem with not having cable TV is that you're probably going to end up watching TV your parents will want to watch as opposed to what you want to see. It was in these times in which I relied on my portable radio to provide me some entertainment. I was mostly listening to Hot 95.7 and AM 790. I was getting a bit burnt out on Hurricane Ike coverage and news conferences. I was hearing all kinds of stuff. Casual house activities of mine circulated in my mind as to what times would be like had power been restored sometime sooner. Once again, forced to watch whatever my mother or stepfather wanted to see. If anything, it was nice to see more people out on the streets including utility people. One big highlight from today was that my brother was able to get wireless broadband flowing here with our wireless broadband router. I used my mother's laptop to access the Internet to tell people that I'm fine. I even got to play around on YouTube as well as downloading some big files to be unloaded on my PC for when power is restored. Centerpoint's damage assessment was complete, and my zip code was in the zone where power could be restored (at this time) on Monday next week.

September 18, 2008.

I was thinking about weekend shopping to have some stuff to tide me over for when power is restored. This day was pretty much okay for me. But when trying to sleep last night, a sad thought came to my mind. I imagined that not being able to have power supplied to this house or for my mom would mean disastrous times for us here. The impact of no electricity coupled with my "little kid in a grown adult" personality brought me to tears. I had a foul vision of my mom not being able to provide for my family as well as not being able to enjoy myself as a person. I couldn't help but cry in my room. I even got some tissues to help wipe away the tears and stop my nose from running. So having no electricity has reached a boiling point for me to where tears had to be shed.

September 19, 2008.

I was thinking weekend shopping in addition to groceries for next week. Friday night was wrestling night for me, but it was the first time I admit seeing "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" and "Don't Forget the Lyrics!" My mother was considering going over to my grandmother's house (taking me with her) to wash clothes and for me to enjoy electricity. Good news was that my mother could return to work next week since power was restored to her job. On a fun note, I heard that a lot of nightclubs would open back up for people to get their party on. That even includes Hot 95.7 doing their Saturday night broadcast from Bikini Beach - Clear Lake.

September 20, 2008.

This was the first Saturday I got to see college football again as power is still being worked on. I saw East Carolina meet North Carolina State on ESPN and Iowa meeting Pittsburgh on ESPN2. Unlike my house, my grandmother has DirecTV. The thing I like best about DirecTV are a few exclusive channels and even the XM Radio music channels. I was feeling much better than being in my own house with no electricity. Going back home, I was still feeling terrible that normality has yet to be restored here. I later went out to a Kroger in Pearland for next week.

September 21, 2008.

If power wasn't restored, I may be looking at the possibility of staying at my grandmother's house while my parents and family went back to work. We kept feeling impatient of Centerpoint energy's lacking efforts of restoring power to my house. I saw the Texans play at Tennessee. Not only did we lose, we lost embarrassingly. How the hell could Matt Schaub throw that intercepted pass that led to a touchdown the other way? At least watching the Texans was a release from all the Hurricane Ike stuff. I even watched a little of NASCAR's Chase for the Cup action at Dover. During this time, the fence to our backyard was being rebuilt.

September 22, 2008.

It was unlikely power would be restored. So I called up my grandmother to have her pick me up so I can spend a day there. We went to a Kroger to get stuff like bacon, eggs, grits, Haagen-Daaz ice cream (Coffee flavor), orange juice, and stuff like that. I admit I was pretty lazy because I was enjoying electricity and watching TV. I got to see DirecTV and one of their exclusive channels, The 101. I got to learn a little more about the beautiful Katy Perry from an exclusive concert shown on DirecTV along with Fargas(?). I guess Katy Perry loves high-waisted stuff because I remembered seeing her wearing high-waist shorts at this year's MTV Video Music Awards as well as this somewhat high-waist dress she wore at this concert. I even brought along my PlayStation 2 with a few games I wanted to bring along. It was the first time I seen The Ellen DeGeneres Show. I wanted to watch because I wanted to see Dolly Parton. While I'm not a country music person at all, I do admit that Dolly Parton is very beautiful in looks as well as her lovely country-style voice. And not to mention her big knockers! ;-) Okay, moving on... My grandmother was very awed when I played "Test Drive Unlimited" as I was racing around O'ahu Island in cars that I had purchased. She turned the volume up on the TV very loud when she heard the sound of one of the cars' engines in a race I was in. It was my Shelby Cobra Daytona race car that she enjoyed the sounds to. I headed home back to my house later that Monday evening. In terrible circumstance, we still had no power. My ice cream was melting. At least we had planned to set up multiple surge protectors to have vertical fans for our rooms under generator power. I even got to sleep through the night with cool air blowing on me. I always have the fan on in my room when I sleep because cool air helps me sleep better.

September 23, 2008.

This time, I brought along more comfortable clothes to wear to relax in when at my grandmother's house. The McDonald's not far from my house was drive-thru only, and my grandmother didn't feel like waiting. So we went elsewhere. We ended up at this McDonald's on the intersection of Cullen and Reed. There was a long drive thru line, so I went inside to pay for breakfast. I got me a classic breakfast- hotcakes with sausage platter with a hash brown. That's good eatin'! My belly was full as I went through another day without power. A cool thing about DirecTV was that it has about two channels that is a mix of eight different channels on one screen. I was watching the Sports Mix. The DirecTV sports mix consists of eight sports channels on one screen. They include (from top-left to bottom-right): ESPN, ESPN2, NFL Network, NHL Network (which I didn't know existed), NBA TV, Golf Channel, Speed Channel, and CBS College Sports. Sure is fun to watch eight channels at once and be in control of what you see. Trouble is, the subscription my grandmother has doesn't include a number of channels. I had to watch the MotoGP 125 race around Indianapolis in that one window. It was the first time I had seen "Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman" on PBS. Going home, we had no power... again. But now, hope was even more eminent as we've seen power crews assemble not far from Hobby Airport. SCI and Comcast trucks were all assembled at some empty parking lots. As we came home, my mother was starting to get pretty furious in regards to Centerpoint energy and their slow progress to restore our power. Another night of sweating and fanning myself was in the works.

September 24, 2008.

More hope was on the way with more trucks finally showing up here in my neighborhood and in other Southeast Houston places where I live. I continued to enjoy my grandmother's home and the electricity to feel normal and lively. I brought along a few more PS2 games I have, including "Street Fighter Alpha Anthology" and "College Hoops 2K8." I was listening to a few XM Radio channels on the DirecTV receiver. I mostly listen to dance music channels. So that meant listening to "The Move," "BPM," and "The System" (or whatever their trance music channel is called. By accident, I even found an XM channel featuring new age music. One very lovely song was played by Hilary Stagg (I believe the person's name is). I think Hilary Stagg is a male though I've known Hilary/Hillary to be a feminine name. Other members of my family stopped by my grandmother's house to get out of a no electricity house. With some dark clouds in the sky, we headed back to my home when my mother came from work. On a light note, I saw this SWEET Dodge Challenger SRT painted in silver with black stripes. It was such a cool car! Can't wait to be at next year's Houston Auto Show to sit in this bad boy. What a sexy car! I thought it was the new Camaro at first, but it was the Challenger. It even had a Hemi engine. Just an all-out, bad-to-the-bone, 21st century muscle car. I heard that we were going to eat some Luby's take out food when we got home. But when we got home, I noticed something special...

FRONT LIGHTS! Electricity! Working fans! Lights turned on! Alarm clocks set at 12:00 AM! Power was restored!!!

Livelihood and normality was being restored to my house and my family. Days will no longer be short. I can enjoy getting back on the Internet and just being as lazy as I want to. All the while, I've thought about my friends and family. Believe me. I couldn't wait for the day I can get back on the Internet and share my experiences and show that I am alright. We take these luxuries of electricity and air conditioning (most people fail to realize air conditioning is a luxury) for granted. We can live without air conditioning and electricity, but we still can't live without food and water. I enjoyed this Thursday with electricity. This was a hellish experience. But with each day of Hell, Heaven will await us. Hope will await us. Prosperity is never far away. Normality will be restored. I felt like I was stranded on an island with no hope of returning home while power was out. I'm now thankful to be back online and with power.

- (author's note- end of original comments)

We usually forget that things like air conditioning and electricity are luxuries. Of course, I'd be screwed without technology. John's Blog Space (or my other online content) would just be stagnant without technology. I hated that my Sansa Clip gave out on me as I was trying anything to escape from all the Hurricane Ike talk. I was too young to remember Hurricane Alicia. I do (and will) remember Hurricane Ike and what he brought to all areas affected by Ike. The devastation was worse than when I remember Tropical Storm Allison back in 2001. One of the first things I did when power (via generator) and phone were restored was tell people online that I was alright.

A gentler story was that I was looking forward to getting a wireless network adapter for my computer as well as get Jordin Sparks' debut CD for when things return to normal. I have since enjoyed both. It takes incidents like Hurricane Ike to get you to think about things in life better. I was just glad that everything was back to normal after power was restored. For Christmas that year, I got myself a 4GB SanDisk Sansa Fuze (that I still use today) to replace the Clip that gave out on me during Ike.

But to eventually get back to livelihood and normality and that happy ending, I had to endure 12 days of Hell.

On a Personal Note...

I send my condolences to all whom may have lost life or property through Hurricane Ike. That not only includes people in the greater Houston/Galveston area, but EVERYONE who had to endure Hurricane Ike's fury. Maybe my circumstances weren't as extreme with Ike compared to people who got displaced or had friends and loved ones killed, but this has been the experience I've seen and experienced.

Thank you for reading!

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