FINAL UPDATE: Sunday night 8:00 PM (CDT). If you’ve watched the news anytime in the past 48 hours you know that the Texas Gulf Coast just got hit by the worst disaster in 25 years. This is my second “MAJOR” hurricane in those 25 years and it hasn’t gotten any easier. My family and I are extremely lucky living in Sugar Land, TX. We were on the “clean” (western) side of the storm and only got hit by 75 – 90 mph winds. We have some roof damage and fence damage just like 90% of our neighbors and the rain earlier this morning was pouring in. Luckily, we have some great friends and neighbors here and everyone pitched in to help cleanup the debris, cut up the (literally) thousands of trees down all over the area and help folks begin to repair their damage. Power was out for about 40 hours and the heat and humidity were terrible. Right now, our biggest concern is food and water but we do expect the stores to reopen sometime this week.
But this was nothing compared to the complete destruction we’ve seen just 30 – 40 miles south of us. Most of Galveston Island has been destroyed. Scoured clean by the wind and storm surge. The pictures and film that you’re seeing is only half the story. It may take 4 – 6 weeks to restore basic services to Houston and months to restore anything on Galveston Island and surrounding areas. I can’t even begin to describe how bad things are for the hundreds of thousands of people affected by this storm. I can tell you this however, Texas was settled by folks that don’t know the meaning of defeat. This entire area, our friends, family and coworkers will pull together to do whatever is needed to rebuild. We’ll take what help we can from the local governments, state and federal authorities, but in the end, it’s the people of Texas that will stand up and meet the challenge. We will rebuild our homes, our workplaces and our infrastructure. We will restart our refineries and drilling platforms that feed the nations energy needs. (Sorry. didn’t mean to sound like I’m running for office but I haven’t slept in 48 hours).
UPDATE 4: Friday night 10:10 PM (CDT). Bad news all the way around. Hurricane Ike has intensified and it’s eye has condensed. This increases the maximum sustained winds to over 110 mph with gusts up 132 mph. Here in Sugar Land we have been experiencing steady 50+ mph winds for the past several hours but strangely enough, no rain has fallen. The storm surge from this beast has completely flooded Galveston Island and the coastal regions. The surge has also backed up all the bayous (rivers & streams) and caused localized flooding without much rainfall. According to the forecasts, we still have another 12 – 14 hours of this weather to endure. The single ray of sunshine in all this is that we still have power, although it’s flickered several times already. We’ve stopped watching the continuous news coverage. There’s just so much a person take, watching a disaster unfold so slowly.
UPDATE 3: Friday afternoon 4:35 PM (CDT). Hurricane Ike is a little over 130 miles from Houston with winds of 100 mph. We have just started seeing gusts of 20 – 30 mph and don’t expect much more for several hours yet. Ike is traveling at 12 mph, which is very fast for a hurricane this large and the good news is that it hasn’t strengthened much at all. From the latest aircraft recon data it looks as if Ike may be starting to turn towards the North but with a storm this large it won’t really matter exactly where the eye makes landfall. The wind field extends over 100 miles from the center of the storm so everyone in this area will feel it hit. All we can do now is pray and trust in God to see us through this crisis.
UPDATE 2: Friday morning, 10:43 AM (CDT). You can feel the nervous energy around Houston. Folks are out in their yards, mowing the grass, boarding or taping up windows, doing anything just to keep busy. I’ve checked the National Hurricane Center site at least twenty times in the past few hours, hoping to see that Ike had turned towards the North and away from Houston. No such luck. Nothing to do now but wait and see what hits us!
UPDATE 1: Thursday night, 10:30 PM (CDT). All is quiet in Sugar Land, TX. Our brand new City Hall and Town Center area are boarded up tight and secure. Folks along the coast have evacuated to places farther inland and most did so in a much more organized manner this time around. No ten hour traffic jams on the major freeways. No panicked folks running out of gas and out of patience. All that is left is watching the storm and waiting for the weather to change. The current forecast track still has Ike heading straight for Houston, due to arrive sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning.
I just want to let everyone know that I may be going “silent” for a few days due to Hurricane Ike which is now heading right for Sugar Land, TX. My wife, three youngest daughters and I are “sheltering in place” as they say down here and my oldest daughter is safely away at college.
Don’t worry folks, we’ve been through this before and it’s just something you learn to live with in East Texas. I’m not too worried about the wind and rain since Sugar Land is about 60 miles from the coast and sits 80 feet above sea level but I do expect we’ll lose power for a few days.
By the way, the image at the top of my blog is copyright and courtesy of NASA and was taken yesterday from the International Space Station. Pretty nice view they have up there!