Things I learned from Hurricane Ike:
1) If Ike was a strong Category 2 hurricane, I don't want to be in my house during a Category 3!
2) Boarding up all of our windows seemed like a lot of trouble, but at 3am with the wind howling, I was thankful we did it. Thanks to my husband and our friend Ron for working so hard!
3) Kids go nuts when kept inside. With the windows boarded up (think very dark). With no power (think very hot and muggy). Flashlights are really cool for about 5 minutes. Thank goodness our power was only out for 24 hours! Many people are still without power, and they could be without power for another two weeks or so.
4) My little doggie, who sometimes has "accidents" inside, had no problem going out into the yard during the hurricane to pee. Now if he can do that, I don't think there's any excuse for peeing/pooping on my floor!!!
5) When a hurricane is coming, make sure you get all of your vehicles in your garage. One of my neighbors woke up to find a tree trunk through the window of his F150!
6) When the officials say "mandatory evacuation," they're not kidding! Get the heck out of town. The officials told people under mandatory evacuation that once the hurricane reached land, they'd be ON THEIR OWN...no services, no help. Galveston even bussed thousands of people off the island FOR FREE. There was no excuse for anyone staying on that island. It's absolutely ridiculous. They stayed against the orders of the officials, and now they want everyone's help. I personally think those people should have to wait until all of the people who obeyed orders are helped. That would only be fair. By staying, they risked not only their own lives but the lives of rescue personnel. There are enough people in other parts of Houston who need help without having to rescue people who should have been out of harms way to begin with. It's plain silly.
7) Some people will always try to find someone to blame for their problems. When we got our power back on, I started watching the TV news (Ike news is all we're getting on our local stations right now). At first, the news was giving valuable information. But most of the day yesterday, I could hardly stand to listen. During press conferences with the mayor, etc., the media was hammering them about why people weren't helped sooner. Then they were griping about FEMA and how they hadn't gotten in place soon enough. GIVE ME A BREAK, PEOPLE!!! It's a natural disaster! There's a reason it's called a catastrophe! When all of the power in the 4th largest city in the nation goes out, you're not going to get it back on in 24 hours! When a city has massive flooding and wind damage, grocery stores aren't going to get deliveries for a while. Gas stations are not going to get gas as soon as you'd like for them to. DEAL WITH IT! That's why you were told to STOCK UP on certain things and hunker down. Now I'm not talking about the people who lost their homes, or whose homes were so damaged that they're not fit to live in. I really feel for those people, and I hope they're getting the help that they need. It wouldn't have done those people any good to stock up on things because they would've lost those items anyway. I'm talking about people like the guy I saw on the news being interviewed in West Houston (no serious damage there). I saw a guy outside a store complaining about the government not helping Houston enough. He was mad he couldn't get groceries, and he seemed to think that the government should be handing out generators to the millions of Houston residents (how in the world did he expect to find a generator AFTER a storm came through????? Those aren't exactly plentiful at other times. And then you have to be able to find gas to run the generators.). Some people have gotten a little too used to the government taking care of them, and they don't do anything to help themselves. If you have a house over your head, you should be able to make it long enough on the groceries you should've bought before the storm came through. The rescue people are too busy helping people who don't have a home to come to the aid of people who didn't prepare for the storm.
If you live outside Houston, you're only seeing the worst scenes from the storm. For the most part, Houston is recovering fine. It will take a while to get back to normal, but people are helping each other, and the government started helping within hours of when the storm passed through. Don't listen to the whining about FEMA or other officials not acting soon enough. We have the best mayor in the country (a Democrat, no less), and he's been working on hurricane preparedness since Rita. He's doing a great job, as are the other city workers (fire department, etc.). The power companies are doing the best they can to get power restored. They got it back in service very quickly in our area. Some areas will be more difficult because of the damage and flooding. I think some people in the media don't want FEMA to do a good job, so they're making it sound like this is another Katrina. Nonsense. There are no people standing on their roofs waving flags trying to get someone to help them. Help was on the way as soon as the storm was over.
8) When something like this strikes, you find out how great your neighbors are. We did not have a generator, but one of our neighbors had two. He brought one across the street and let us share it with our next door neighbors. We couldn't use it long because we only had so much gas, but it enabled us to keep most of the food in our refrigerators/freezers. And it helped to be able to give the kids cold waters since it was so hot and muggy inside and outside the house. Thanks, Mike and Julie! We had phone service for a couple of days (now it's out for a while), and neighbors were calling to ask if we needed anything. We had offers of water, gas stoves, etc. When the power was out, most of us spent much of the day outside. We weren't happy about the power, and some of our neighbors had some water damage to deal with and fences to repair, but it was really nice seeing everyone out visiting with each other while they were cleaning up their yards. I met two neighbors that I'd never met before. I love the people on our street, and I'm so glad we have the neighbors we have.
9) Another thing I learned is that you should never live right on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, especially if your city is at or below sea level. If a hurricane can cause damage to houses 60+ miles inland, then why live any closer to the coast than that? It's just too risky. Rebuilding every few years just doesn't sound like my kind of fun.