Sunday, 19 October 2008


We're now more than a month on from Ike... things have largely gone back to normal around the city, with almost all power restored (though some people waited more than a month!), the once-ubiquitous flashing or completely dead traffic lights, which slowed down even the shortest journey, are almost all fixed, and the piles of brush and logs and branches which decorated every kerb are slowly being gathered by the city (apparently they have enough to fill the Astrodome more than four times over; there's a competition in progress to work out a way to use it all and avoid it all going into landfill).

Here's a partial photographic history of the aftermath of Ike:

We got rid of the front yard tree a day or two after the hurricane; we'd wanted to anyway, as it was half dead, but hadn't had a chance to (plus the quotes we'd had were quite expensive!). Anyway, the guy in the red shirt lives locally, and quoted us a much smaller amount than earlier, so we had him take it down on the spot. The guy with the chainsaw is also a neighbour; it was great, how much people helped one another out, propping up fences, lending equipment, offering ice (back in the first couple of days when there was no power) etc etc.

Clean-up happened VERY quickly - within a few days of the hurricane most streets looked like ours, below (or worse, the closer you got to the city). Our piles are gone now; some are still waiting in the parts of the city that were harder hit.

There must be absolute MILES of fencing down across Harris County... some, like ours, has been propped up with boards, while others have been removed and replaced with plastic netting or similar. Very few have been replaced properly - I guess it's a combination of people waiting for insurance payouts, and not wanting to be gouged - everyone's been warned to be careful of people purporting to be tradesmen, and wanting money up-front.

This sort of damage was actually relatively unusual - the only major structural damage tended to be to more flimsy structures such as this one.

Almost all the billboards in the area were stripped clean... one just up the road from this one was bent completely over; I missed my chance to get a photo though as when I went back for it, it was gone; it must have been incredibly dangerous.
Note the many missing signs down at street level too - very few have escaped some sort of damage, and there are bits of plastic EVERYWHERE, even still. It was weird to see the (relatively) sturdy plastic in shards, while many of the (relatively) flimsy fluorescent tubes inside survived ok.

This is a road near work - there were at least a dozen trees down along it, all looking like this one. When I passed late last week they'd all been cut off, leaving a perpendicular stump, even though none of them had died.

This building is downtown - much of the city centre was closed in the days immediately following Ike, to allow clean-up of all the glass (and other materials) that came off buildings. Most events, right across the city, on the weekend after the hurricane were cancelled, at the request of the police.

Literacy Advance, the place where I've been volunteering (more on this later!) was hit pretty badly - while there was no major damage to the outside of the building, water came in through all the external walls, soaking the carpet and the plaster... when the building went for more than a week without power, the mold got a real foot-hold. All the plaster lining external walls had to be ripped out, and all the carpets; we lost some materials and books to the damp as well.

After two weeks' hiatus, classes were able to go ahead again, in a different part of the building - the workmen were in the main part of the building until late last week.

Not far from us is Addicks Reservoir, which is normally dry - the only reason you know it's a reservoir is the sign; there's a road right through the middle. After the hurricane it was full for a couple of weeks.

In the end, flooding probably caused more damage around the city than the wind... quite a few roads were cut, including this one not far from home. I took these photos last week, when it was still impassable.

All in all, I just have to repeat what I said in my previous post: we were so very blessed throughout all of this; we had no major damage, we went without power for a VERY short time, and we've had no real consequences to deal with, unlike some. We are very thankful.

Oh, and I have to mention the best quote of the time, which Dave and I heard on the first morning, when were listening to the radio and trying to get a handle on what the damage was and what we should be doing: some rescue workers were being interviewed, and they said they'd been kept indoors by the weather, and that "Until we can get out, we're stuck here."