||[Sep. 17th, 2008|11:01 am]
I'm back at the office this morning, so I finally have Internet access again!!!
We lost power at my house around 3:15 last Saturday morning, and it hasn't come back on yet.
The hurricane stripped quite a few shingles off the roofs of my house and garage, and water was dripping from the ceiling in 5 rooms of the house, on both the second and first floors. The sheetrock is all still in place, though some of the tape between sections came loose due to the water.
There were shingles scattered on the ground all over my neighborhood. As far as I have heard, the most significant damage was loss of shingles, sometimes down to the bare wood on some people's roofs, then water damage inside some houses. In some cases, people's ceilings fell in due to the water. Several people have ripped their carpet out and have it sitting outside, waiting for trash pickup. Outside my neighborhood but in the general area, we saw many sections of wooden privacy fences down, as well as lots of tree branches and entire trees. We saw some cars smashed by big trees, and some trees fallen onto houses. My neighborhood is new enough that none of the trees are big enough to cause much damage even if they had fallen on something.
My wife Mary cooked as much food as she could, and one of our neighbors (who is an Indonesian immigrant who does catering for the Indonesian consulate in Houston) kept coming by and dropping off food that she'd made. But we did lose some food to spoilage. On Monday, we drove up to Mary's sister's house (between Normangee and Madisonville, east of College Station) to do laundry, drop off two turkeys that had thawed out in our freezer, and leave our three kids with her. She offered to take them off our hands for a while, since she has electricity and all the trappings of modern civilization. Also, she lives on a small lake and there are woods there for the boys to tramp around in. Then we drove on to Mary's brother's house in College Station (or it could be in Bryan), and picked up a small generator so we could power our refrigerator, at least intermittently. We spent the night at his house.
On Tuesday, we filled the gas tank of our van and bought 15 ten-pound bags of ice in College Station and headed home. When we got home, we gave some of the ice to our neighbors who wanted/needed some and used the rest ourselves. Then we cleaned out, and then thoroughly cleaned, the refrigerator and freezer. Also, we stopped at a nearby Lowe's to buy a ground wire and steel ground pipe to ground the generator. When we got home, my wife said, "Isn't the A/C unit grounded?" When I went to check that out, I remembered the ground rod that's there for the whole house (duh) and just connected the generator ground wire to the existing ground rod.
Starting the generator was a bit of a chore, or at least keeping it running was, until I realized that I had the fuel switch in the "off" position instead of "on." Apparently I can't read or interpret pictographic symbols very well.
Anyway, things are very slowly returning to normal, though it may still be days or weeks before the power is back on everywhere in the Houston area. My family and my neighbors are very fortunate that any damage we suffered, and any inconveniences were currently dealing with, are minor in comparison to those that people in Galveston and areas south of Houston are dealing with.