Thursday, October 2, 2008

If I could tell you one thing

... that I learned about hurricane preparation it would be to make sure you always have a stocked pantry!

When Ike hit, nobody realized that grocery stores and discount stores would be closed for a week. That even if they were open, the shelves would be bare and the refrigerated and freezer sections would be empty because the food had gone bad. Nobody ever talked about those things.

Over the past 6 months, I have built up my pantry. I have learned to buy a lot of an item when it was on sale and especially if I had some great coupons. I never dreamed how much I would appreciate my stocked pantry. Sure, it made it easy to make dinner on a whim. And that week I couldn't make it to the grocery? Yeah, it paid off then, too.

But what I never expected was having to live out of my pantry. To feed my family. My neighbors. My friends. After the hurricane, we would gather at the neighbors' house and prepare dinner for 6-8 families - out of food we had in our freezers and pantries. How amazing it was to be able to contribute to such a worthy cause. One other neighbor had an equally-stocked pantry which made all the difference between our neighborhood eating dinner or going hungry.

I could have lived without my generator. Flashlights. Batteries. Even gasoline. But not without food and water. They tell you to have three days' worth of food on hand. Three days is not nearly enough.

If you take anything from any of my posts about the hurricane, please take this. Make sure your pantry is stocked. You never know when you might really, truly need it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Would you like some cheese with that whine?

Cliche, I know. I just have to say that I am so tired of watching my local television station and seeing clip after clip of "victims" of Hurricane Ike. All of them whining about what the government is not doing for them and what is not being done fast enough. Those who the day after the storm hit are complaining about not having food or gas. Hello? We don't live in a vacuum. These people have been told over and over that they need at least 3 days' worth of food in order to prepare for the hurricane. That their gas tanks need to be full. That a monster storm is about to hit and knock our communities on their tails. I just don't understand a group of people who can't take responsibility for their situation and expect the government to come in and take care of their every need and did I mention they want it NOW?!

I am not a victim of Hurricane Ike. I am living in Ike's aftermath. I am living in those pictures they show on national television that seem so surreal. But I am not a victim. I am a survivor.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Disaster Relief

Certainly you've seen the Red Cross trucks on television. You know - the ones that come in after a huge disaster and help feed people and provide assistance. It wasn't until I was standing next to one that the enormity of our situation hit me. Like a ton of bricks. WE were the people they show on television. With the sad, dirty faces. I hadn't worn makeup in days, but fortunately we still had running water and could shower...

I received an email from the mayor of a neighboring community asking if my Girl Scouts could be of assistance in assisting the Red Cross Disaster Relief trucks in handing out hot meals to people in the community. What an object lesson for my 2nd-4th graders. An even bigger lesson for my teenage son.

We spent 3 hours handing out Ravioli, green beans, fruit cocktail and water bottles to those who drove by our location. But it was reading the words printed on the sides of the trucks - "American Red Cross Disaster Relief" that struck me as surreal. We were indeed in the middle of a disaster.

Me and my girls!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pictures I couldn't take

Maybe if I were a professional photographer I could overcome the pain to capture the moment. Maybe if I were a photojournalist I could get past the desperation to make a name for myself. But I am not. For as many pictures as I did take, there were just as many more that I could not. I could not bring myself to photograph the line at the grocery store. Where people waited in a long line to be searched before entering. To try to find some food and supplies at the only grocery store open in an area with a population of about 200,000 people. At a store where we waited in line 4 hours to buy gas for my generator - a luxury I will never take for granted. Where my son had to stand in line to get into the store to take my youngest daughter to the bathroom while my middle child and I waited in the gas line. The desperation in the eyes of those who need to feed their kids. Needing ice to keep what little supplies they had left cold. I couldn't take those pictures - but I will always have them. Etched in my mind. Forever.

And then, there were more pictures I couldn't take, but for a different reason. As I surveyed the damage in my community, I realized that no picture could truly capture the enormity of the destruction. The wide-spread devastation. No photo could do any of it justice.

So I just sat and watched. And contemplated how truly blessed I am.

Things I won't soon forget

I was 12 when my hometown to a direct hit from Hurricane Alicia. It was September 1983. There are many things I still remember about that storm and it's aftermath. The tornado that ripped the doors from our garage. Venturing out during the eye of the storm and putting stuff back into the garage before nailing the doors back on and waiting for the other half of the storm to wreak it's havoc. Our neighbors being without electricity for 2 weeks. Running an extension cord across the street to run the fish ponds in their backyard. My brother sleeping soundly through the whole hurricane.

What will I remember this time?

- My children sleeping peacefully all night as the stormed roared outside.

- Losing electricity at 2am and watching the radar via my cell phone the rest of the night.

- WeatherBug reporting "mostly cloudy" and 8mph winds as the eye wall was ripping through.... yeah, the weather sensor at that location went totally MIA!

- Not having my husband home to hold my hand through it all.

- Waiting in line 4 hours for gasoline.

- Lines of people desperate to get food and ice.

- The unending hum of all the generators.

- FEMA Points of Distribution (PODs) with water, ice and MREs.

- Towels that feel like loofahs from line drying outside.

- Driving to Katy with my neighbor to get groceries, ice and gasoline.

- Annoying news reporters being total jackasses when asking questions of the FEMA, Centerpoint Energy and government representatives. We just got hit with a freaking monster hurricane! I will never watch Miya Shea or ABC13 News in Houston again.

- Potluck dinners every night with all the neighbors - like one big block party.

- Funny signs telling Ike to go away or the power to come back on.

- Saving ice in my freezer for the neighbors with no working fridge.

- Serving hot meals with the American Red Cross Disaster Recovery vans.

- Dancing like a crazy woman in the streets when the power came back on after 12 long days!

I am sure there are more and I will probably issue an update to this post at some point in the future :)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Please bear with me...

For those who know me, this is no surprise. I live on the upper Texas Gulf Coast, which took a direct hit from Hurricane Ike on September 13, 2008. As I have been dealing with the aftermath of this huge storm, I have had many things running through my head - things I want to remember, to share, to not lose... so I decided my poor forgotten blog was the best way to do that. Those who want to read about my experiences can come see and I can always come back and remember.

Please bear with me. If you do not know what a hurricane is or the damage it can do, you might learn a little. Hurricane Ike hit the Texas Coast as a Category 2 storm although the damage it created more resembled a Category 4 storm. The hurricane force winds spread for 200+ miles from the center of the storm. For those who do not know about hurricanes, this is huge. Normally the hurricane bands are wrapped tightly around the center "eye" of the storm and only extend 50-75 miles out. This one characteristic is the cause of most of the devastation Ike left behind. It caused large storm surges and spanned much larger areas than expected. I have a lot to share. For you, and for myself.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.... so much has happened...

Monday, July 7, 2008

L is for Loser...

Yeah, go ahead and call me a loser. I left my career 10 and a half months ago to embark on bigger and better things.... and apparently I also left my blog behind. For those of you who have me on a feed, you are going to think something has gone horribly wrong when you see an update from my blog. I can assure that nobody has hacked my account. It is I.

Recently, I have thought about my blog and how I left it behind when I left the "old me" behind... how I should update my blog. Funny. When I had an office job, I had far more time for blogging. I am sure my old boss wouldn't appreciate that tidbit, though. Now I am just a mom. A busy mom. But I will try. Or, as I would say to my oldest, "There is no try. There is only do or do not."

Gee, thanks, Yoda.


As for journeys and flowers.... this year has turned out nothing like I thought.

It's been a rough year, yet I wouldn't change it for the world. I am happier now than at any point I can remember.

Smelling the flowers, I am. Taking the journey one step at a time...

Welcome back, friends.