Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hurricane Ike's Legacy

“Hardship means different things for different people.”
--Ken Hoffman, The Houston Chronicle

The Great Storm of 2008 had a name: Ike. It’s been compared to The Great Storm of 1900 in many ways, and from the accounts I have seen, may have done more damage to Galveston than the earlier storm did—only because there were more dwellings now than then.

In our neighborhood, 75-miles from the coast, Ike cut us some slack. There are many roofs on my block that are damaged, but our houses are still standing, and we have shelter. The subtle sounds of suburbia have been replaced by the droning of portable generators from all quadrants, and in the distance, the buzz of chainsaws still at work, clearing fallen trees.

On Sunday morning we met for church services in a darkened auditorium, sang hymns by flashlight, and fanned the stale air with last week’s church bulletins.

The message was even more poignant because the words were spoken without the aid of a PA system , and punctuated without an overhead slide show. Within our group of saints, I am aware of no loss of life, no catastrophic damage.
We were blessed.

Adversity brings out the best in some people, and the worst in others. I heard some of the most insipid, rude, and disrespective tones from reporters directed towards our local leadership, as they asked questions that most of the rest of us already knew the answer to (why isn’t there enough ice, and why don’t you know when it will be here?)

In contrast, as Sunday became Monday, and the ice withered, frozen food began to thaw, neighbors all over the city came together on clearings in their driveways and pooled their cookers and meats and threw one of the biggest post-storm cook-outs in recent memory.
All was shared with all.

Monday turned to Tuesday, and the sour food was bagged and carried to the curb. The refrigerator and freezer stood open-mouthed, gaping in their sterile emptiness, waiting for the power to be restored. I filled up my fuel tank in the evening, hoping the wait would be shorter (it was) and the temperature a little cooler.
I think I waited in line all of 10-minutes.
No sweat, literally.

Tuesday is drawing to a close.

The house is still dark, but still cool, thanks to the mild autumn-like weather.

I have gotten to know my neighbors better, been fed well from a non-FEMA community chest of food, and found a peacefulness that can only be achieved by recognizing what is really important in life…
and not being able to turn on the TV.

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