Friday, September 26, 2008

Ike: Part the Third-Wow

The trip back to our respective homes was interesting. On the way back to Friendswood, where my Mother-in-law lives, we saw many trees uprooted as a direct of the straight-line winds. We saw still others that were twisted masses of tangled branches and limbs indicating the twisty winds of the hundreds of small tornadoes spawned by the hurricane. The different creeks we crossed were already swollen, and at one point, the road was covered by eight or so inches of water. Power lines were down; some in the road, some on houses and others just lying like exhausted snakes along the roadside.

We drove fairly slowly to avoid the branches and piles of leaves in the road, and to assess the damage to structures adjacent to the street. Walls with the brick veneer peeled off like peanut shells, facades on buildings half crumbled or blown away, metal awnings looking like sardine cans with lids still partially attached. The anxiety built, leaving us wondering what our places were going to look like.

Mimi’s house was very well-preserved; she only had some fatigued hyacinths and a broken pine bough. The back yard yielded a fence caught in mid-faint, and one broken picket. A pretty good record, I’d say, since there was nothing too far amiss, save the lack of power and phone. She has a gas water heater and range, so there would be hot food and warm showers until the cavalry rode into town.

So my Mother-in-law was in pretty good shape for the time being. It was time to go to our house to see if we still had one. Since we didn’t know what would be there, I decided to leave the girls at Mimi’s, put one foot in front of the other (not literally, I drove the silver Dodge) and picked my way down to the homestead. All the way down Highway 35, I saw evidence of angry winds and waters that refused to stay in their usual courses. Power lines down, portable buildings that had been moved without the benefit of a truck, with siding and roofing material marking the trail that they took to their resting places in the middle of the median of the Bypass.

By the time I arrived at our subdivision, the anticipation was driving me to a sub-sane condition. There was still water in the street so the back way was the only route to my house. Branches down littering the street, basketball goals and shingles were all painting a picture that I didn’t want to see.

Turns out, the picture wasn’t all that bad. I pulled into the driveway and parked next to my little red car. It looked none the worse for wear, except that there were shredded leaf bits tucked into every crevice, under molding on the side, around the window gaskets, and plastered to the license plate. It looked like my car had been mulched.

The roofline looked good, and as I scanned my way around the house, the plant life notwithstanding, the whole thing looked pretty good. I went around the north side and saw nothing out of place, came through the back gate and saw the Arizona ash did pretty much what I had expected. It’s branches filled up the back yard. And the deck. And where the back fence had been. There was one in particular that made me a little mad. It was one that was about eight inches in diameter that had somersaulted out of the top of the tree, landed top-first on the deck, then rocked to the right and smacked into the edge of the roof right over the master bedroom. It cracked the fascia board, crumpled the flashing and smushed a piece of shingle about the size of a slice of bologna. That was it. Except for the fences. And a few shingles from the rickety shed out in the corner (which I would have wagered to have sustained considerably more damage than what ended up).

My neighbor’s yard was fully visible, since three panels of our seven-foot fence were laying in his yard. He had a new shed with a little steeple on it, and a weather vane bearing a silhouette of a horse and carriage running over the little arrow pointing to the wind direction. I had half-expected to see that arrow in the side of one of our many possum someplace else. But it rode out the storm just fine up there on top. He has (“used to has”) a metal and canvas decorative gazebo, now it’s just a pile of twisted metal. There were some shingles missing from his roof, and his young oak tree in the front yard was in repose on its side. But nothing else wrong, all windows intact, no doors blown in, limbs through the roof or anything.

The guy across the street, Donny, was none so fortunate. After I had checked my house and Larry’s abode, I traversed the street to see how his home had fared. The front wasn’t bad, just some shingles missing, the board on the front window had blown off, although no ill effect was seen from that. Of course their hibiscus plants, like ours, were worn out and lying over. The back of the house was the disaster. The porch next to the master bedroom and living room was ripped back and laying next to the house on the East side. It was almost like looking into an open wound; the insulation and the bones of the house showing, the nerves and arteries laid bare to the elements. I felt a little sick. But like any good neighbor/journalist, I whipped out my phone and snapped a couple of shots of the carnage. I then immediately sent the pictures to him, along with my condolences. I didn’t need to remind him that he was the one who had a bad feeling about Ike.

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