Saturday, July 26, 2008

Food for Thought: In the Eye of the Hurricane

Along Came Dolly:

When Hurricane Dolly hit Brownsville, Texas, last week, I didn't pay any more attention that to track the storm on the internet and hope we'd get a bit of rain out of the deal. Especially because the storm couldn't make up its mind whether to be a tropical depression or a tropical storm or an out-and-out hurricane, I am afraid poor Dolly did not get much respect from me. I smiled when my Utah family would ask me how we were surviving the storm. Didn't they know that was like asking them how was the weather in Las Vegas? Besides that, Dolly scarcely deserved the notice. Katrina and Rita, now those were hurricanes.

Then, my son's mother-in-law sent me this log about their vacation down to San Padre Island, and I was reminded once again how important it is for us all to be prepared, even for such a seemingly inconsequential thing as a tropical depression. Dolly charged up to a Category 2 right before landfall, and the damage she wrecked on south Texas racked up into the billions. Even with the lessons one would hope we here in southeast Texas learned during Hurricane Rita, it seemed another round of the same.

When I asked her permission to post this, Deana responded:
It really was a good lesson in preparedness. We had food with us, but had to run out before the storm and get food that didn't have to be cooked (we did lose power early in the storm). Even then, it didn't last long. The store was running out of things quickly, but we did manage to get some essentials and, luckily, two lanterns for light. Thankfully, we had enough gas in our cars to get out of the storm area---it was at least 100 miles to the nearest available gasoline.

Here's Deana's description their experience with Hurricane Dolly:

A vacation down to South Padre Texas became an adventure we won't soon forget. After a couple of beautiful days on the Texas coast, warnings were sent that a Cat 1 hurricane was on its way from the Gulf. We tried to monitor the storm. The last report we heard from the local news was the storm has weakened to a tropical storm and that is would blow over in a day or so. We decided to stay in a day or so enjoy the beaches once again. Soon after, we lost power and with it all communication and information. As it was, the storm strengthened to a Cat 2 hurricane. We hunkered down in our condo.

South Padre island took a direct hit from the eye of the storm. The wind velocity reached 115 mph! Water flooded the condo – we were on the first floor and so we spent the day Wednesday sandbagging inside the condo and constantly mopping up the water that came in under the walls and from the ceiling above. Luckily we made some friends from Pennsylvania in an adjoining condo which also decided to stay. They provide us a dry place to rest from the water and wind.

When the storm subsided 24 hours later the billions of dollars of damage had been done to the small resort town. Shingles littered the ground everywhere. Almost 50% of the roofs of dwellings had been damaged. Fences – wooden were destroyed and steel gates were ripped from their hinges and tossed across the road. Many store fronts had their glass shattered and their store interiors blown to confusion. We saw at least a dozen telephone poles that had been snapped in two and are sure there were many more. Metal street light poles were bent and blown over and many of the street light fixtures lay in the streets shattered. Traffic lights were ripped from their wires and thrown in the streets. Signs were all obliterated. Fuel pumps were stripped of their casings and the many fueling canopies were torn apart and thrown into their parking lots. The damage was amazing to see.

On our drive home we saw that Port Isabel – just across the Launga Madre also experienced a direct hit and was also very badly damaged. Port Isabel, Brownsville, and other low lying cities were completely flooded. A small city just north of Port Isabel was completely under several feet of water.

I have included just a few pictures of the damage – even after seeing the results of Katrina and Rita it still is amazing to us what a storm can do.

We are all safe and enjoyed our time on vacation and our adventure and thank you all for your prayers on our behalf.

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