Monday, September 15, 2008

Out of the storm

After spending two days in a dark and muggy home, my parents wised up and fled Ike-ravaged Houston this morning.

It was definitely the right move, something I had endorsed a full 72 hours previous. With no power, no water and little hope of procuring a decent warm meal, the best available option seemed clear. In other words, if you have to wait four hours in line at Buffalo Wild Wings, things have completely gone awry.

"It was like Beirut," said my mother, never one to shy away from hyperbole. "I've never, ever seen anything like that before. It's all torn up out there."

She's right: Houston looks like a swampy wasteland; Galveston appears devastated beyond meaningful repair; and other more rural, far flung areas of southeast Texas might never recover. Rita in 2005 and Ike have dealt some places a demoralizing 1-2 punch.

Anyway, going forward, it's just a reminder that hurricanes are merciless and random and extremely costly. Ike made landfall in Texas as a Category 2 storm; what might the damage have been as a Category 3 or 4 or, God forbid, a 5?

I still happen to live in an area extremely susceptible to hurricanes - we had our own storm panic a few weeks ago. I like it here and I imagine the millions of other people living along the Gulf Coast feel the same way. So, more than most, I know why people are reluctant to flee ahead of the storm or, even worse, pack up and try life somewhere else.

But at some point, some of us are going to have to ask some hard questions of ourselves. At what point does the cost become too high? Nature will not accede regularly enough to our desires for salt water, fresh shellfish, good football and 75-degree winter afternoons.

That said, I had plans to return to Houston this weekend that were, obviously, altered by the storm. When I finally make it there, sometime in the next couple weeks, I would like to believe that I'll be able to enjoy a meal and a lengthy walk along the Galveston Seawall. Somehow, I doubt that'll be happening anytime soon. I just had no clue that Galveston was still such a fragile place. It's just hard for a native Houstonian to believe.

In the meantime, be safe and keep the faith Houston. We're all thinking of you and, I can tell you about at least two people who are eager to return.

Actually, make that three.

UPDATE: Links, pictures to come later. I think.

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