Saturday, September 13, 2008

Underwhelmed (thankfully) by Hurricane Ike

Living near the Metroplex area for several years has not diminished my memories of growing up in Houston and living through several hurricanes. So it's been lovely today to be completely underwhelmed by the forces of Ike. Apparently, the west side of a hurricane is the "clean" side, so we only got a bit of rain- I doubt it was even an inch of water- and a bit of wind, but nothing to get too uptight over.

My parents, however, are retired and living in another state altogether now. They are not sad that they don't have to spend another moment tracking storms and boarding up windows to prepare for the gale force winds and the occasional flying yard ornament or wayward limb. Unfortunately, they happen to be on the "dirty" side of the storm and are still expecting wind, rain and tornados until sometime tomorrow. Ike was a huge storm.

I probably lived through more hurricanes and tropical storms than I actually recall, but I do have vivid memories of a few.

Hurricane Alicia hit days before I started kindergarten. I remember falling asleep in my own bed and waking up in a sleeping bag in the hallway. During a hurricane, the hallway is supposedly the safest place, seeing as how basements don't really work in land areas at sea level. Because of the flooding and all. A basement might become more like an indoor pool if someone so much as spits in the street.

During Alicia, I remember watching the storm out of the back sliding glass door. And witnessing a large tree in our yard fall towards the house, narrowly missing my house. And me.

I also remember my first day of kindergarten (I was an afternoon attender back when kinder was 1/2 day) when my dad and his buddy were working to cut some limbs off part of the fallen tree. Somehow, in all their tree limb cutting expertise, they managed to land a limb on a power line that supplied electricity to our house. They needed some rope to pull the limb off, so they decided it would be safe to leave the limb on the power line while they ran to the store for more supplies. While they were gone, the limb caught on fire and my mom and I had to run down to the neighbors house to call the fire department. And the first day of my school career was immortalized in my mind. Thanks to Hurricane Alicia.

Fast forward a few years and another hurricane that started with a C blew through. If my memory serves me correctly (and chances are it doesn't) the hurricane's name was Clarissa. But on a google search for Hurricane Clarissa, all I could come up with were some vague yet nerdy references to Jurassic Park. Since I'm not current on JP trivia, I'm pretty sure this isn't where I came up with the name, but I could still be wrong on what the storm was actually called.

Actually many of the details of this storm are fuzzy. I just remember "hunkering down" at my childhood friend Olivia's house. Her mom, who was an artist, showed us how to make salt-dough ornaments and we spent the day baking and painting. But where were my own parents? My mom worked at a hospital and probably had to go in, as was usually the case in inferior storms. But my dad? I don't remember if he was working nights at the time.... If so, my parents probably felt I was safer being in a home where the adult was actually going to be conscious during the day. If he worked days, did he have to go in? To the railroad? In a hurricane? Doubtful, but stranger things have happened.

Most recently, in 2001, Tropical Storm Allison dumped buckets on Houston, moved out and then got ticked off about the Houston humidity or traffic or mosquitoes the size of small birds and turned back around and dumped more rain on the area. Because my mom assured me that nary a drop of rain had fallen all day, I packed my bags one Friday and made the 4 hour drive to H-town for the weekend. When I arrived just north of Houston, the rains had begun (for the 2nd time around) and I-45 was shut down. I was terrified that I was going to be whisked away in my car by rising flood waters. Fortunately, I was able to make it to an exit where I turned around and headed back to Dallas. 9 hours after starting my journey I was home. With little recollection of the actual drive back north.

I do know that my memories of hurricanes do not even compare to the devastation that many have experienced firsthand from Katrina, Rita, Ike, and others. Our prayers are with all those who have been affected by the storm this weekend! Stay safe and dry everyone!

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