Sunday, September 21, 2008

Saturday September 13, 2008, Ike's destruction

I woke at Adam's house about 5am and went outside several times to look. It was way too dark to see anything and the winds were still blowing 70-80MPH. I was supposed to have gone back on duty at 6, but I knew it was too bad to get out. Mike woke and we both went outside to look around after daybreak and finally about 730 we decided to try to get to the PD. We had seen a couple of cars drive by and one PW car, so we knew it was pretty safe to drive.

We got to the Chevron station on 1128 @ Hwy. 6 and saw one of the gas pumps had blown over. I stopped to see if it was leaking but spoke with Mike Goodson the owner and learned that they have built-in safety switches that made it safe. David Smith, the emergency management director had run under a cable which was wrapped around the light bar on his truck. He managed to get it untangled and made his way to City Hall where the EOC was located. I don't know why he had been out driving around but guess he had just come in from home in Pearland. It seems funny that he, the director, had not been in the EOC during the night when the storm came in.

We made it to the PD but it was dark and quiet because most were still asleep. We went into dispatch and learned that we had 16 calls held over from the storm with everything from 911 calls to many home burglar alarms. I went out and began surveying the damage around town. Trees were across many if not most of the streets and roads and of course lines were down everywhere. We slowly came to life and began making the calls that had been held. We got all the old calls taken care of and all came back to the station around 11 o'clock. Ethan gave me his Blackberry to use as a modem for my computer and volunteered to ride with me to communicate on the computer, recording damage from other units, Capt. Bell allowed me to drive over to Dickinson to check on my house. The main roads were passable but there were many trees and branches on the roads. We made it to Dickinson and saw water in the businesses at the corner of 517 and Maple with deep water covering the road. All of the bayous were over their banks but when we got to my house, I only saw the pine tree in the front yard bent over and the back fences down. All of the banana trees were broken in half but I didn't see any structural damage to the house. I made a quick trip inside but didn't find any broken glass or water on the floors.

We went to Ethan's house and saw the damage done by trees to the roof of his house and the electrical box on the side. His wife and two children including a newborn had ridden the storm out there but seemed to be none the worse for wear. We were sent to the apartment complex where the Chief, Steve Burt and Vickie live, but only some damage was seen. it was not learned until later that Steve's building had been smashed in and water had gone behind the walls of his unit. It was first thought that he would lose everything but he later learned that some could be salvaged. This took care of the employees that live out of town for damages done.

I had been assigned the task of photographing all the city locations and the damage done to them. We went around to two lift stations which had not suffered anything other than limbs down abd minor damages. One station which was surrounded by a wooden fence had suffered damage to the fences. City Hall had not suffered anything major but the PD had lost our metal awning behind the station, the fabric awning on the front and something had hit the front of the building knocking out some bricks and allowing water to enter the building which soaked the walls and floors. The carpet in dispatch and my office was soaked with water but luckily none of the electronics was damaged.

By the time we got back it was almost time for me to go off duty. When I did, I went back to Adam's house since we all had to be available in case of an emergency. There was no power on there but he had rigged up a generator to run a fan and the television in the living room. Sometime later in the night, the generator ran out of fuel but Adam and Mike got some more gas and started it again. It was still very hot but the air was moving. It was another miserable night.

I got up around 4:30 and went over to the PD and took a shower. I put on my BDU pants and a uniform shirt and was pretty comfortable the next day.

To be continued.....

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