When we first heard about Hurricane Ike hard on the heels of Gustave, we had a tendency to treat it with a ďHo HumĒ attitude, inured as we are to the perceived hysterics of
weather people, and the news media to a certain extent. You can hardly blame them as 49 weeks of the year they have to stand in front of a weather map and say ďHot and Humid, 65% chance of rain.Ē The three weeks they get to talk about an approaching hurricane is their Emmy time.
But I had a feeling Ike was going to be different. After all, we had dodged the bullet many times in the past. I certainly wasnít going to evacuate like so many people did with Rita. I think that people in Fort Bend who evacuate are just clogging up the roads for the people who
really do need to evacuate.
Itís easy to have a laissze faire attitude about hurricanes in Fort Bend. After all, we would have to go all the way back to Alicia for any comparison, and that was a relatively mild one--at least for Fort Bend
So I laid in my supplies---chocolate chip cookies, a flashlight, and vodka.
One codicil: I will evacuate if I think I am going to lose electricity for air conditioning or television for over 20 minutes.
I remember the exact moment we lost power in our subdivision . It was Saturday morning, 12:45 a.m. It tried to come back on at 3:30 a.m. when I heard a loud pop and saw a bright flash from the power line in the back of our subdivision. That was it for us with electricity. As of
Wednesday a.m., we still had no power in Riverbend.
But I had already lost my window of opportunity to get the heck out of Dodge. My dear friend Marsha P. Gaines, was one of the few people who had electricity in Fort Bend County. I was sorry for everything I had ever said about her when she was an elected official (I think I said
more good things than bad.) and she agreed to let me bunk in with her. She is currently suffering from ďsurvivorís guilt.Ē Every day I bring more and more of my stuff to her house in the sure knowledge that when I have it all over there, the power will be miraculously restored to Riverbend.
But the more serious problem was the Fort Bend Star. In 30 years we had never missed an issue, even with a printer located on the seawall in Galveston and now in LaMarque/Texas City.
Even though every other building in our block had electricity, the Star was dark. I thought it would surely come back on. I didnít really look for it to be reconnected until Monday, but when Monday rolled by and we were still without power, I begin to sweat--literally and
figuratively. Tuesday, the day we usually go to press, dawned and still no power.
I called CenterPoint Energy. Where were all these thousands of trucks, I wondered. I pleaded that the Star was the official newspaper of Stafford, Sugar Land, and Missouri City. In addition to the news we needed to tell our citizens, we had to print time-sensitive legal notices.
That was my story and I was sticking to it.
It will only take 15 minutes,Ē I begged. ďItís just an unplugged fuse.Ē I even asked to hire an electrician and pay him myself. As you can see, it was really important to me that our record remain unblemished.
I called Sugar Land Mayor Jimmy Thompson. He claimed the head of CenterPoint lives in Sugar Land and even HE doesnít have power.
I called Stafford Mayor Leonard Scarcella. I figured he had a sand bag dike around most of Stafford. Au contraire, the mayor was angry himself about the amount of homes and businesses still without power in Stafford.
Mayor Allen Owen was out commandeering gas stations and County Judge Bob Hebert was busy appearing on Bill White TV.
According to General Manager Michael Fredrickson, all we needed was a large room with tables if possible (or we could bring our own) and internet connection.
I called several motels with conference rooms. Sold out to responders. I called the Fort Bend Chamber: closed. Riverbend Country Club: closed. Marsha offered her dining room table. It was beginning to look good.
I called good friends Melva Roesler of M & R Electronics and Karyn Dean of Senior Resource Guide because I knew they had that kind of set up. Neither had power.
Finally, Congressman Nick Lampsonís campaign agreed to provide a room with internet access beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday. The campaign office is located on Dulles--right next door to our former office.
I had always heard that if you want something done or need some juice in Fort Bend, you call Mister M. I wonít tell you his real name now because I donít want 65,000 of you calling him for his list of friends, but I can tell you that his friend came through for us and we finally
had power half a day after calling Mr. Mís friend.
Nick Lampsonís office was unnecessary in the long run, but donít be surprised when I become a Democrat. Iím afraid Nickís offer trumps just about anything any other political person could do.
In any event, we are back in business and this newspaper should go out only one day late. Other hurricane observations.... Some civic minded neighbors in my subdivision cut and moved large trees blocking the roads in our neighborhood. No one asked them. They just pitched in.
I saw many families out walking. And I saw many families out cleaning up their yards without waiting for their lawn service. I figured they were already hot and with no television, they were just bored.
Our staff gets hit......The devastation in Galveston, Bolivar, and Surfside was unbelievable but some of it hit home.
Star News Editor Jean Sandlin and 19 of her neighbors lost their roofs when a small tornado ripped through their townhomes. The resulting rain buckled Jeanís roof before morning and her house will be uninhabitable for many months. She has had to cope with salvaging what
possessions she could.
Reporter Lea Anne Klentzman and her daughter narrowly missed certain death when a huge tree crashed into their house, smashing two bedrooms and a bath. They had the forethought to sleep in rooms without close trees. Their house has such structural damage that it may be
unsalvageable. This brought the whole idea of the heartbreak of hurricanes home to all of us as Jean and LeaAnne look for hotels (full) or apartments (sticker shock). Consider the fact that they will not only have to cope with living elsewhere but continue their house payments. You just canít
image this unless it happens to someone you know. The idea that so many people in other cities are homeless is almost incomprehensible.
No, I donít like Ike.