For any who were wondering, my family and I are all doing okay. In terms of what you see on TV, our “suffering” was mere inconvenience. No structural damage to the house. Lots and lots of limbs found themselves on the ground Saturday morning. Took most of the day to clean up just the front yard. We lost power at 1:15am on Saturday and it came back on this morning at 8:30am. That’s about 56 hours without power. Even with the full moon the past two nights, you don’t realize how dark the 4th largest city can get. It was quite eerie. We have a gas stove so we were able to eat the rapidly-defrosting food. My wife brought out the Southern in her on Saturday evening: flat-iron steak, kidney beans, and Johnny cakes. Wonderful!
Other than that great meal, the biggest issue we had was our food. Ice kept melting and we needed more. We drove out west on I-10 searching for ice. Found some at the HEB grocery story in Columbus, TX (78 miles west of Houston). The good folks there really served us Houston ______ (what do you call folks who leave Houston but then return within hours?) well. The weirdest thing we saw driving west was the randomness of the destruction. One billboard standing, the next blow away. One tree okay, the next one shredded. Odd. And this morning, we Houstonians got a taste of true autumn weather. Great timing.
An obvious thing that I, and everyone, learned is how completely connected TV and the Internet makes us. I am an avid radio listener (NPR, especially, with all their cool programming and great reporters who paint pictures with their words) and yet, relying only on radio is limiting. The radio announcers (KTRH: y’all are the best) did a fantastic job of passing on information. But they can only do so much. And it was not until this morning when we finally got to see the pictures of the destruction. Sobering.
Now, I count my family among the fortunate ones. Some of my friends had power restored on Saturday morning, mere hours after Ike left southeast Texas. The poor folks in eastern Harris County and other parts to the east have our prayers and our support. But the folks in Galveston are going to need a whole lot more. For any Texans reading this, I think most grocery stores around the state allow you to donate some extra cash to help the folks who have lost the most. I urge y’all to do what you can. For any readers beyond the Lone Star State, there are options for y’all as well. Red Cross is probably the best place to start.
One of the silver linings that emerge from tragedies like this is the goodness of people. Yes, there are the bad seeds and they are going to do what they do. And the media will show you that stuff ad nauseum. But there are many, many more good stories. Like this lady I saw this morning at noon. She was volunteering at a relief location, directing traffic. Why? Because she only lost power and wanted to help the folks who lost more. It’s too bad that it takes natural and man-made disasters to bring out the good in people.
Back to the subject of this blog: crime fiction and regular posts. I don’t expect to post a book review tomorrow nor will there be a music/movie review today. I’ll start my regular columns on Wednesday with a short story review and things should progress as normal as possible. And be sure to tune in on Friday for the Forgotten Books feature. I’m deciding between two books and even I don’t know which one I’ll pick.