Saturday, September 24, 2005

Hurricane Post Lucky #13: The Post-Mortem

God, what a mess.

Leaves all over the front yard, and covering the bottom of the pool. Our neighbors across the street have several tree limbs down in their front yard. (Silly us -- we foolishly paid a guy to thin out our tree a couple of weeks ago. The guy across the street gets Rita to do it for free.)

But, as far as the eye can see, absolutely no damage at all. Not to our house, or to any of our neighbors'.

We lost power here for a grand total of five seconds. Since I have a UPS on my computer, I didn't even have time to shut down before the power came back on. It was off just long enough to force us to reset every digital clock in the house. We have enough electronics here that at night, when all the lights are off, there is faint glowing coming from multiple points -- almost enough to navigate by once your eyes have adjusted to the darkness. Well, last night, all those glowing points were flashing.

Last night, I was too damn tired to care.

We've had the adrenaline pumping for three days, anticipating death and destruction and mayhem and broken windows and missing roofs and no showers and sweltering temperatures. The worst we suffered here? I was finally forced to clean out the garage so we could stash our cars in it. Our cars. Did you know two of them fit in a two-car garage just perfectly? Who knew?

A few hours of raking and scooping, and you'll never know anything ever happened in this neighborhood. I'll worry about those who lost everything later on. Right now, I'm just grateful that our lives haven't been seriously disrupted. I don't think a few hours of selfishness is inappropriate. I'm going to spend it holding my wife and telling her how much I love her.

But what the hell am I going to do with all of this ice I bought?

* * *

The gridlock is now heading toward Houston. Even though the mayor and governor have said "Don't come home yet, we haven't assessed the damage" (or, for that matter, figured out a re-population plan that would avoid the same problems the evacuation caused), people are heading to Houston. And the traffic jams have already begun.

There is no gasoline in Houston. There is no food. If you want a cold beer, you might be able to find a stray ice house that remained open throughout the storm, but that's about it. No pizza deliveries, no newspaper deliveries, no mail.

No mail?!?

Yep, it seems that old "Neither rain, nor snow, nor gloom of night" crap the Postal Service likes to quote doesn't say anything about hurricanes.

Since most of Houston was never under a mandatory evacuation order, officials can't deny residents of those areas the ability to come home whenever they want. But the big concern is how to get gasoline back into the city. Officials are not going to put the contraflow plan back into effect for returning traffic; they're saving those "outbound" lanes for gasoline tankers and emergency vehicles.

The problem is that once the tankers get here, they will be facing stations that are closed. The station owners and their employees may have evacuated. Coordinating this so that tankers and employees are there at the same time is going to be a mess that will take days to untangle.

Similarly, Southwest and Continental airlines won't be resuming flights in and out of Houston until tomorrow, because so many TSA baggage screeners had gone AWOL before the storm. Getting those baggage screeners back on the job (and handing them their asses on a platter) before resuming air travel is also going to be a challenge.

And my hands still smell like gasoline from messing with that damn generator a couple of days ago. It's the only gasoline smell you can find for 100 miles ...

* * *

I switched this blog over from my usual smart-assed comments to the hurricane story because, like so many other people, I was fascinated by the on-the-scene reports from those who were riding out Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath in New Orleans. I thought I could do the same thing here. But certain conditions had been presumed: a working generator for when the power went out, lots of mayhem and destruction to report, and of course, national media coverage and mass adoration for my selflessness in bringing the story to you. (Hey, I got an ego too, yanno ...) None of those things happened.

From a dramatic perspective, this blog has been a total flop.

But I never expected the total success, either. I was a guest on L.A. radio, which is something I had never done before. Clearly, I was heard by dozens of people. I have received so many nice blog comments that I am genuinely touched and humbled. And I re-learned something I had long forgotten: how to write as well as I can speak. My strongest talent is extemporaneous speaking, but reducing those words to writing quickly was, for me, a lost skill. With this hurricane, I seem to have gotten it back. (Can a book deal be far behind?)

So, to April Winchell, Mr. KABC, everyone who read and enjoyed my dispatches, and most importantly, those of you who told me you did, I thank you. This has been a wonderful experience, and I wouldn't mind repeating it sometime (without the hurricane, of course).

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled rants and commentary about nothing much in particular ...

posted by Gary @ 12:58 PM

3 Comments:

At 7:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a wonderful writer. I ate up every word. Glad everthing turned out OK for you. Mail should be coming soon. Wonder how many late charges you will receive!!!!! Thanks again.
Margie of LA.

 
At 8:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You can't get rid of me with that quick sayonara!! :) I enjoy your writing and will be a regular reader now! I'm so happy to hear all is well after Rita, too!
Laura in CA

 
At 3:48 PM, Blogger C.H. Brown said...

I'm glad you made it thru Rita fine (doesn't she just sound like a woman who is going to cause your life a lot of trouble?) I'm enjoying your blog for the first time. Gotta make sure I bookmark this puppy.
CB

 

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Location: Houston, Texas

Why the heck wouldn't you want to read the toxic byproducts of my mental processes? It's not like you're too busy to waste a minute or two here, you know. You ARE just killing time by mindlessly surfing the web. Pop open a brewski and stay a while.




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