Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cleaning up after Ike

It's now day 18 after Hurricane Ike came through. Here are a few more photos from streets and houses in Northampton - still with piles and piles of cut-up trees, branches, leaves, fence slats, etc., in front of people's houses or in their driveways or in the streets. These are typical of what's happened all over this huge "greater Houston" area, including Harris, Chambers, Montgomery, and other counties.

Yesterday, I noticed that guys in huge trucks and in tractors with front loaders were starting to get rid of all these piles. There will be problems for homeowners who have bagged stuff (leaves, etc.) -- the clean-up crews are picking up the loose things (branches, logs, etc.), but not any of the bags. They can't put all that plastic through the chippers and mulchers!

And here's a small area that was covered with an enormous pile of debris on Sunday. What a mess is left after it's picked up! But at least this is not as daunting as piles that are often 10 or more feet high.

The golf course looks about the same as the neighborhood streets except that the golf maintenance guys haven't bagged anything; it's just all in stacks and piles. I noticed some of the golf course sprinklers on this morning, but the sand traps still look icky. Much of the golf course was flooded because it's built on both sides of Willow Creek - lots of dried muck in some areas still. It's taking time, but clean-up is proceeding.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

After Ike

By yesterday, people all over the area had had time to get lots of the tree damage cleaned up. All along Northcrest Drive (the primary street between us and the schools) and its neighborhood areas, the streets look like this -- piles and piles of branches and cut up trees, large and small. Some people have run out of room along their own curbsides and have had to haul it into the median. And many of the downed or snapped-off trees have to be taken care of by the electric company's crews if those trees are entangled in power lines. This is why it's taking so long to get power restored to some of the surrounding neighborhoods.

One REALLY encouraging sign yesterday was the lone truck on Anne's cul-de-sac -- a tree crew to disentangle a tree from some power lines in one of her neighbor's back yard. That lone truck was a real beacon of hope for us!

Then when we returned to the Linehans' after going out for dinner, we found this scene -- the entire cul-de-sac was filled with electric company trucks. These were crews in from Florida, Ohio, and other midwest states. All of Anne's neighbors were ecstatic to see these guys! Within half an hour of our return, we all had electricity again -- after 7½ long days of no power except for what came from the various generators all over the place!

Ike and its effects

Hurricane Ike struck the Galveston/Houston area very early Saturday morning, September 13. Actually, the storm surge was already coming onto Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula on Friday, under cloudless blue skies!

On Sunday, it was still raining (with thunder and lightning in the early morning), and on Sunday afternoon some of the clean-up was begun. Below is the large branch that was ripped off one of my backyard trees, and you can also see one of my flattened baby pine trees just to the right of the branch. (Anne and Parker had dragged the branch from the back yard to the front.)

These two photos show Ken in the process of restaking two of my baby pine trees.

Ken and Anne went out and got a big generator and lots of gasoline to power most of their house - not the air-conditioner or the dryer or the oven, of course, but fans and other things run from outlets were able to function with the generator, including laptops and the charging of cell phones! (Use of hair dryers required turning off everything else!)

And here is the Linehans' yard clean-up pile, just waiting for the special trucks to come along and turn all this into mulch.

All the kids found different ways to entertain themselves, before and after the generator was installed. Among other things, they rode their bikes and scooters around the neighborhood and to and from the nearby playground. Kira and Abbi decided to have a picnic one day!

The following two photos show one instance of damage in my neighborhood. The very tall pine tree was blown straight east -- through these folks' own fence, across the street, and through a neighbor's fence and into their back yard. Clearly, some neighborhood guys with chainsaws cleared the road so the rest of us could drive safely through this. This was taken care of long before any tree service crews ever showed up around here.

Down the street from my front yard, you can see at least one large pile of yard debris in front of one house and a large red trash hauler in another neighbor's driveway. I think they lost an entire tree in their back yard, and the back end of their house sustained major damage when the tree came down.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Learning to drive!

Austen has had his learner's permit for several months now, and has become quite proficient. Last weekend, Anne had him practice on some of the freeways around here, including 249, Sam Houston Tollway, and I-45. Very brave! He did fine. Very soon now, he'll be ready to go and take the tests for his driver's license. We'll all be happy -- there'll be a little less chauffeuring for Anne and me once that happens!

Here he is, driving his mom home in his dad's Explorer after a stop at my house. Such a tall charmer!