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Monday, September 15, 2008

The Most Polite Hurricane Ever

Jack's home port is Houston proper (travel to the sea is a major hassle during rush hour, let me tell you). That said, the weather report early last week saying Hurricane Ike was headed to Mexico or South Texas wasn't that earth shattering. But darn it if every time we checked the path the thing had moved north. By Wednesday evening, the track was locked in precisely to our back porch. There was talk of it strengthening to Cat-4. The crew was, well, concerned.

The Captain took immediate action: we set upon all the ship's stores we could find, loaded up the crew's chests in the Chevy longboat, and lashed everything down for riding out a storm. By Thursday mid-morning, we pulled anchor and set all sails before the wind in haste (after fighting light traffic to get to the seashore, of course). It was a right fine morning to be sure, although it was exceeding hot and sticky. We ran full sail until we neared the town of le baton rouge or "Red Stick" that the abominable French occupy. By that time, many others (probably French, by the salty look of them) were fleeing the coming storm with their pastries and cigarettes, and a voyage that should have taken 8 hours turned into a little over 12. The Captain had charted out to Mobile, and really held it together until about 15 minutes before we arrived. All heck broke loose as I guess the stress of the long passage finally got to him.

Back in Houston, the brunt of the storm ended up passing right over the house during the early morning hours on Saturday. We lost two large trees, one trashing the fence, the other of which now rests on the house itself. A few things here to note: First, and most important, everyone's safe. Secondly, from what we hear, the pine didn't slice through the roof. So it could be much, much worse. Many of our neighbors weren't as fortunate. Thanks to our neighbors Kay and Edwin for their eyewitness accounts. The power is still out from our latest information. We'll head back towards home when that's fixed.

One odd story, this from the neighbors - it seems dozens of "storm tourists" are very enamored with our house, driving by and taking pictures and video of the damage. Ah to be there to either extract a piece of eight or two (for the Captain's piggy bank) or brandish a cutlass, I can't decide. Gory pictures to come!

Also: I got a call late Friday night, and the voice on the other end wanted to know if we had evacuated. I explained that I had, and asked who was on the line.
"This is Ike."
"The Hurricane?" I asked.
"Yeah I just wanted to know if you had evacuated, I'm here in Montrose and wanted to check in with as many people as I can. I'm a little drunk, and we're all here having a good time here. Where are you?"
"That's funny, I was just running from you. But we're well out of your reach now, sorry."
"But where are you? Not in Houston?"
"Mobile, Alabama," I said.
"Oh, well yeah, that's good - and you're right, that's pretty far out of the way. OK, I need to check on some more people, be safe!"

For a hurricane that caused billions in damage, I do have so say that I didn't expect it to be that polite. Or for it to give courtesy calls. Or for it to party in Montrose. It goes to show that we have a long, long way to go in hurricane research.

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