Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hurricane Season and Ike's Aftermath

Living about 160 miles north of Galveston, we are sometimes effected by the hurricanes. We were in part of the area that was declared a disaster area from Rita (Sept 24, 2005), although we were very blessed to only lose our freezer and refrigerator. We also did not have power for a week, and being without electricity for that long was a definite learning experience.

For some reason, Gustav didn't concern me. My only guess is that it was a peace from God that we wouldn't be effected. I did the preparations (bought bottled water, made sure we had canned food that could be eaten cold etc.) but wasn't very concerned.

Ike was different. I don't know if it was a combination of the date (9-11) and that my mom's surprise birthday party down in Houston (on 9-13) was going to be cancelled, but I was down and worried. We made more intensive preparations (charge portable DVD players for kiddos, bought ice for the cooler, even brought the rabbits inside so they could go through the storm in their carrier cages in the bathtub). We were as prepared as we thought we could be for a week without power.

Before the kids went to bed, we pulled the mattresses off their twin beds and used them as an extra headboard to block any potential glass from the large window over our bed and then had the kids sleep with us. Mr. Duck and I waited up to see what was going to happen, but finally went to sleep at 3 am. There were some wind gusts but the amazing thing was watching the clouds move across the moon. I don't think I have ever seen them move that fast.

7 am the winds had picked up alot, but we still had power. The lights went out at 8:30 but then came back on about 9:30. They were on for about an hour and then went back out. We had gathered all the flashlights into one place and all the oil lamps into one place. Nerves were too on edge for a good game of cards, so we taught Daisy how to play solitaire (which we saw her play several times the next few days).

We were incredibly blessed to have no damage, just a mess in the yard from the limbs and leaves. After the storm, we went for a walk around our neighborhood. Most didn't have alot of damage, but one of our neighbors had a tree fall on the back side of her house. She is an older lady (71) with her 91 yo mom staying with her. She has a son in the Houston area, but his area was damaged much worse than ours. We have been helping her out any way we can, cleaning up her yard, bringing her a carafe of coffee (with our gas grill I can cook just about anything) and Mr. Duck checked out her electricity to be sure it was safe to have power in all her rooms (the tree and rain could have caused problems). I even "accidentally" made too much supper one night so that I could bring her and her mom some so they could have a hot meal (that they didn't go out to buy.)

We ended up getting power back on the 4th afternoon so we were able to have our lives mostly back to normal but our hurricane prep list has had some things added to it. We do not have a generator so for us no power is no power.

Our Hurricane List

(in no particular order)

  • Fill containers with water (now adding filling at least 1 cooler with ice)
  • Fill propane tanks
  • Plug in corded phone (cordless phones do not work with no power)
  • Make sure there is plenty of food for the animals
  • Freeze stuff like milk, cheese ect because it will last longer if the power is out
  • Top off gas tanks (don't want to have to wait in line, and prices may go up)
  • Print out an easy to read county map so when on the radio we hear the eye is over _____ county we know how far that is from us (easy-to-read because of the power outage)
  • Plenty of canned food, easy to eat stuff ie. peanut butter sandwiches. On the other hand only get stuff that your family will eat anyway. If the hurricane doesn't come, you don't want to be left with 20 cans of tuna when your family hates tuna.
  • Bottled water, both the drink bottles and gallon bottles. If you remove some of the water from the gallon bottles and freeze, they will help keep fridge and freezer cold longer.
  • Gather flashlights, and know where replacement batteries are. Gather oil lamps and fill them all. Get matches or lighters and put them where you can find them (up out of kids reach if you have small children).
  • Find a portable radio to listen to the reports, and extra batteries. A hand crank radio/ flashlight like this one is very handy
  • An inverter (one of those things you plug into the cig lighter and then can plug in a normal plug like this) allowed us to recharge the DVD's as well as plug in the router so we could access the internet and weather radar using the laptop.
  • Fully charge cell phones, and anything else that uses batteries.
  • A week (or more) supply of any med you take regularly

This is by no means a complete list, I am sure I have forgotten something. In addition, being this far from the coast, we don't need to plan as much as someone on the coast.

I would also like to thank all the linemen and their families who put in many, many hours to restore power as quickly as you did. We are so grateful to you.

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