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Third degree encounter with Ike

Hurricane Ike passed through the Houston area early morning of Saturday, September 13. Exactly a week prior, hurricane Gustav had its landfall on the Louisiana coast. Then Ike developed from a tropical depression to a Category 2 hurricane by the time it had its landfall on the Texas coast near Galveston Island. Category 2 isn’t quite like the category 4 or 5 of Katrina that devastated New Orleans a couple of years ago, but there was something else about Ike that was very unsettling. It was the size of Ike - in the satellite pictures you could see that it was the size of the entire Gulf of Mexico. This enormous size created storm surges that flooded the coastal areas of Texas long before landfall and it also has a higher likelihood of spawning off tornadoes after landfall. A strong enough tornado can flatten a house down to rubble in a matter of minutes. There was a mandatory evacuation order for the coastal areas where the landfall was projected to be.

We had been tracking Ike (see Ike’s path on the right from stormpulse.com)on the various weather stations and based on the wind speed projections near our home 35 miles from Houston we decided to stay and hunker down. Of course, we knew that up until the last day that decision could change. We started preparing early in the week - dried and canned food, bottled drinking water. On the last day we taped up the windows, filled the bath tubs and kept the candles and flash lights handy. We also brought all the outdoor items inside - grill, patio furniture, potted plants, etc. Since Ike was coming through at night, we had to make our beds in the “inside rooms” of the house. This meant a room with no windows or outside wall or ceiling. We knew that we could have severe damage to the house from the strong winds, from trees falling and from potential tornadoes. And that we would most certainly be out of power and could be out of running water and gas as well. Rashed and his family left Houston on Friday to join us in the Woodlands.

At about 6:00 am on Saturday the wind speed really picked up. The hurricane eye was just east of us. Every time there was a gust, the house would make very lound twisting and creaking noises that were very unnerving. At 6:19 the power went out, and we all were awake listening to the sounds and wondering what’s going to happen next in our respective close beds. The damage was quite extensive.

The damage was quite extensive in our neighborhood, in downtown Houston. Downtown was closed to the public for several days. Galvaston Island is still closed to the public. I am still waiting to hear what the casualty figure is there. The rest of my experience is best described through the
photos here.
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