My wife and I were in Conroe, TX about 50 miles north of Houston and 100 miles north of Galveston on the night that Ike went through. The eye of the storm went over us about 5 AM on Sat 13 Sep 08. The power went out and stayed out until Wednesday evening. My son still does not have power at his job site and has not been able to return to full duty.
When the storm came through, we had gusts in excess of 100 mph in Conroe. Very many trees and limbs were blown down.
My wife and I left the Houston area about 4 PM on Sat, just a few hours after the storm. Conditions had improved considerably in Houston, so we set out following the storm up the border of East Texas. We had to stop at times for road crews that were clearing the road of trees and debris because we were behind a caravan of power trucks that were out trying to start fixing the grid. We probably passed hundreds of places in 400 miles where trees had fallen across the road, but it was open. The Texas road department had done a wonderful job keeping the roads open. I was very surprised. We passed two places where they were still clearing trees off the road, but one lane was open. In many places there was so much litter on the road that the road was covered with tree debris except for the tire tracks.
There was so much damage to the power lines that I didn’t see how they would get it fixed in months, let alone days. In some places there were trees on the lines every 100 yards and in some places the poles were broken and the lines were in tangle on the ground. In the 300 miles from Houston to Texarkana we found one gas station that was open. Almost all of East Texas had no power. The closer we got to Texarkana, the worse the weather got. By the time we got to Texarkana, we were getting gale force winds and at times, torrential rain. We had hoped to have power in Texarkana, but just before we got there, the power went down where we were spending the night. It was not until the next day (Sunday) that we got power.
We drove from Texarkana to Little Rock to catch a plane. We were amazed at the dozens and dozens of power trucks and tree trucks that were headed for Houston. We passed probably 150 trucks rushing to assist Houstonians. We saw our Dayton Power and Light trucks and DP&L’s tree management company (Asplundh) headed south for Houston.
We drove on up to Little Rock and caught a plane to Dayton. We got stranded in Atlanta because the Dayton bound plane was overbooked. Two earlier flights had been cancelled due to hurricane force winds in Dayton and many people were trying to get back to work. From 1 PM – 6 PM Sunday, winds from 50-75 mph buffeted Dayton doing extensive damage to the power grid, so we had hurricane force winds in Dayton! Power was out throughout the region and there was no gas or electricity. We followed Ike all the way from Houston to Dayton and it was knocking power out all along the way. We went from Sat – Tues with no power.
We got back to Dayton Monday afternoon and the power was on at the airport and some places in Vandalia. I filled up the car with gas and headed back home. My son had cranked up our generator and was keeping the freezer going, but he was concerned about lack of gas. On the way home I saw where a station had just opened, and when I got home, I rushed around and got some gas cans, and went back to the station. In the 20 minutes it took me to do that, the station had gotten busy as people learned it was open. I was blessed to get gas quickly and get back to the house. By the time I left, there were people lined up out to the street.
At home I hooked up a drop light to the generator, and we had light by which to read. We were the only ones around that had any power. Our power finally came back on Tuesday afternoon, so it was off from Sun – Tues. My son’s power in Conroe was off from early Sat through Wed. There are many places that still do not have power, and it may be another week before most people get their power back on. The recovery effort here was seriously hampered by the fact that DP&L had sent most of its crews and tree contractors to Houston. They had to call them back, but it takes two days to get back from Houston. My oldest son’s job site does not expect to have power before Monday. A week after the storm, there are still tens of thousands of people in the area without electricity. One does not expect a hurricane in Dayton, OH, but that is what we got. We experienced damage from hurricane force winds from Houston to Texarkana to Dayton.
It has been a rough week, but thanks be to God we did not experience severe damage. We had some big branches knocked down, but nothing fell on the house. Across the street our neighbors lost five trees and some neighbors had roof damage. My oldest son had replaced our roof about 5 years ago, and it held. I told him, “Good job!”. On the access road to our house, a big tree fell across the road and smashed a pickup, blocking access down that road. My oldest son’s wife was driving in the wind on Sunday. The power lines had fallen across the road, so she turned around to go another way and a tree fell in front of her. She was trapped between downed power lines and a tree. She managed to escape by driving up in the yard.
Probably everybody here has a story to tell, but it has been, as the old Chinese curse has it, “living in interesting times”. I only missed one day of work, but other people were not so lucky. The gas stations and restaurants that had power were swamped with business, but most of them have been losing money because they have no power. Many places were not able to work. I was concerned about my job location, because if we had lost power downtown, it would have put 200 stores in five states out of business. As it was, we only lost 20 stores due to power outages at the individual stores.
Downtown Dayton lost power for a while and the mayor was very concerned about looting. They do not call Dayton “Little Detroit” for no reason. Dayton called out every cop they could find and shut the court house early. They put court baliffs on street patrol and put out a curfew, but the situation was very quiet. Everybody was busy dealing with problems at home and trying to figure out how they were going to get food and gas.
I hope most of you did not experience problems, but we seemed, like the ancient mariner, to have an albatross around our neck last week . I was impressed with the orderliness and discipline displayed by Americans in the aftermath of the storm. There was none of the anarchy that characterized the days after Katrina in New Orleans. There was no looting and no snipers. The people that were damaged were the true Americans and not the result of generations of people living in a godless social welfare state. The contrast is stark, and you can see what is coming as Christianity loses its influence. May God help us all.