cifarelli: (Ember)
So here are the pictures of damage caused by Hurricane Ike around our house. I warn you, in the scheme of things, it isn't really much. We got off really lightly!

Pictures here! )
cifarelli: (Ember)
We woke up this morning to still no more than a trickle of water coming out of our faucets, so I was disappointed to still be unable to take a shower. This after they said last night that the failed pumping station was back online and thus water pressure should be restored in a matter of hours. This morning they said that most of the city had water except for isolated areas that were still having problems. But the 311 system was not yet back online so we couldn't call to report that we were still lacking water pressure. Well, this afternoon our water pressure seems to be coming back finally. The toilets are refilling themselves (slowly) after we flush, and we're getting more than a trickle from the faucets (though it is not back up to normal yet). Still waiting for it to come up a little more before I try to shower with my long hair.

We ventured out to our local HEB this morning because we were running very low on milk, and since we have power to keep it cold we wanted to restock and not put Corwin on water only when it wasn't necessary. Turns out that our neighborhood has lost a couple of trees near the entrance, and there were trees and tree limbs down all over the place between our house and the grocery store (which is at Westheimer and Kirkwood). True to the description of Cat 1 winds from the Saffir-Simpson scale, the vast majority of the damage we saw was downed trees and signs. There was a bit of street flooding as well, but it looked to be due to nothing more than clogged storm drains. Wilcrest was partially flooded coming up to the intersection with Richmond when we approached, but it was drained an hour or so later when we returned home again -- and it was clear that this was due to someone pulling debris out of the storm drain right there. Downed trees were occasionally partially blocking traffic lanes, and the street lights were either out completely or flashing red. There was a fair amount of traffic out.

There was a HUGE line to get into the HEB. Fortunately, it was moving quickly and everyone we encountered was civil. The store itself had areas of bare shelves (particularly in the nonperishable isles) but other parts were well-stocked. Since we have power but no water to speak of, we were mostly trying to stock up on frozen food we could cook without creating very
many dirty dishes. Hopefully now that water pressure is improving that will be less of an issue -- though we are still supposed to be boiling tap water before using it, which makes getting clean dishes more difficult than usual. I can't just run them through the dishwasher and call them good. At the time we were there they had several large pallets of 10-lb bags of ice parked in the frozen food isle, and they were handing them out 2 per family. (Yes, you still had to pay for them.) Fortunately, ice isn't a commodity we're in need of.

For those that know her, we talked to Carly briefly this afternoon as well. She and John were without power in their new house in Kingwood, and were heading out of town to go to Austin at the time we talked to them. So they're fine, if anyone was wondering.

Oh, Corwin update: we used the wipes on him again today and haven't seen a reaction. Guess it was just some freak thing yesterday. I wiped some dirt off his arm with one this morning, and didn't see any reaction. So I used them to clean his hands and face after lunch, and again no reaction.

8:21 p.m.

Sep. 13th, 2008 08:21 pm
cifarelli: (Ember)
We now have no water at all (as opposed to just really low water pressure). I'm starting to really want a bath, but don't have any real prospect of getting one until the city gets the water back online. Unless we just decide to head to Austin in search of cleanliness. If we go another 24 hours without water, I'll probably seriously consider that. Have I mentioned I am very very thankful we have air conditioning?

And Corwin appears to have had an allergic reaction to the wipes we've been using to clean him up after meals in lieu of water. I don't quite understand it, as they are the same wipes we have been using in restaurants for months now. I wiped his hands after dinner tonight with the last two wipes from the existing canister and then used a wipe from a new canister on his face. Not too long after I got him out of his high chair, his face turned bright red in all the spots where I'd wiped. So I guessed that maybe an ingredient had changed between the old package and the new package -- Andrew and I both scanned the ingredient list and they were exactly the same. So I'm not sure why he had a reaction to the new wipes, but not the old ones. Fortunately, the reaction didn't seem to bother him any...just scared his mama. I wiped his face off with some water and kept an eye on him and about 15 minutes later the redness was fading.

I figure tomorrow we'll try an experiment and use a wipe on his arm and then check for a reaction.

Okie, off to get some ice cream and call my parents again and then perhaps I will post some of the pictures I took of the house today.
cifarelli: (Ember)
Andrew and I went to bed last night sometime between 10:30 and 11, hoping to get some sleep before we lost power and it potentially got too hot for comfort. Andrew dozed off and on, but I couldn't fall asleep listening to the wind. It was blowing so hard out there that we could feel the house shaking, and whenever it gusted hard enough for the house to shake, I'd hear this really loud obnoxious kazoo-like noise. Turned out that that was the wind forcing itself through the lower left quadrant of the front door -- guess our door is not weatherstripped sufficiently. Andrew tried blocking it with a towel and shoving a box in front of it to hold the towel in place, which helped a bit but not completely.

We lost power completely right around 2:20 a.m. (which is apparently when we were having the strongest winds in our area) and it was out until sometime between 5 and 6 a.m. The last time I'd checked the time it was 4:45 and the power was still out. I didn't look at the time when it actually came back on; by then, the winds were decreasing and I was finally able to fall asleep. We were really surprised we got power back that quickly; our only speculation is that maybe we are on the same grid with the West Houston Medical Center hospital?

We heard a loud thudding sound at one point while the power was out, so got up and made the rounds of the house to see if anything obvious had happened. At first I thought maybe the front door had blown open (remember, kazoo-sound?), but it was still shut tight. The only problem we found was that the wind was driving the rain so hard that it was getting in the guest bedroom under the balcony door and getting the carpet wet. We put a towel down, and the towel was soaked this morning, but the carpet only felt slightly damp. We didn't find anything to account for the thump, so assumed that something outside must have hit the house.

We haven't been outside to survey any damage yet as we are waiting for it to stop raining, but we have looked out the unboarded second-story windows. There is a big clump of shingles on the ground in the back yard, and one of our crepe myrtles is leaning at about a 70-degree angle. There are more shingles on the ground in the front yard as well, and scattered in the yard of a couple of the houses across the street. We'll probably have to go across the street to the neighbors and ask to stand on their balcony so we can survey our own roof, but ultimately we'll likely have the insurance company send an inspector out to inspect for any damage we can't see. Theoretically, the insurance company's inspector should only say there's damage if there really is, since the insurance company won't want to pay for unnecessary repairs.

All the fences I could see from the bedroom window were still intact. The folks who left their grill outside appear to have lost the grill cover, but all the potted plants and cinder blocks and such in the neighbors' yard don't even look like they moved.

We have power and internet, but no cable tv and very low water pressure. Apparently one pumping station in Houston has failed, so we are supposed to conserve water as much as possible and boil tap water for one minute before drinking it. So far, there's no evidence of water contamination; the boiling recommendation is a precaution only. Biggest issue I foresee is that we may not be able to bathe for a day or two. Fortunately, we have power so we won't be sweating like pigs while unable to bathe. We still seem to have enough water pressure to flush toilets, though we also filled up Corwin's bathtub so can use that for flushing if it becomes necessary.

Going to go check on the status of "is it still raining?" and venture outside for a bit if the answer is no.

12:54 p.m.

Sep. 13th, 2008 12:54 pm
cifarelli: (Ember)
First off, let me apologize for this late post. I didn't sleep last night until after 5 in the morning, and thus I didn't get up 'til 11:30 this morning. We've just finished lunch.

In sum: we are fine! :) Corwin slept through pretty much the entirety of his first hurricane. We put him to bed at his usual 8:00 last night. It took him 'til after 9 to stop thumping around in his bed and go to sleep, but he was still asleep at 9 this morning when Andrew got up. Admittedly we had no baby monitor last night (as the base unit in his room turned itself off at the first power flicker and we didn't bother turning it back on because...well it would have just turned itself right back off again the next time the power flickered), so we don't know if he was awake quietly at any point, but he never fussed or made any kind of ruckus that we could hear.

We even have power today; we appear to be very very lucky in this as it seems that somewhere between 90 and 95 percent of the city is without.

More details later. I have a poopy diaper to change and a boy to get started on his nap. But wanted to let folks know we're safe.


Sep. 12th, 2008 10:01 pm
cifarelli: (Ember)
Cable TV seems to be gone. Internet still working, though. Odd.

Unrelated aside: FOX on Demand has the current week's episode of Bones available (and older eps also...I'm annoyed as it currently only has selected episodes from Season 3 rather than all of them). At any rate, I may be able to keep up with Season 4 after all, in spite of it showing on Wednesdays, and even without a DVR! :)


Sep. 12th, 2008 08:37 pm
cifarelli: (Ember)
Testing txtlj for use later.

[EDIT: It worked! Yay! I still get charged $0.20 per text message (sent or received) so I'll be using them sparingly. Plus they take me forever to type since I never text. :P However, this'll at least let me send a message that the power's out, and will let us keep in touch with family while conserving cell phone battery power.]

8:16 p.m.

Sep. 12th, 2008 08:16 pm
cifarelli: (Ember)
Corwin is in bed.

Wind is picking up. Andrew and I just went out and chatted with the across-the-street neighbors for a bit. They have 2 generators and have said we're welcome to come over if we get too hot. Unfortunately, they seem to be the beer-drinking, partying types, and there are at least 6 cars over there so I think they have a large-ish crowd. So I'm not sure how well Corwin would do with that. But if we get hot enough and can't transfer ourselves to somewhere where there is power, we may end up over there for a little while at least. *shrug* It's good to have options. While we were out there, it was definitely windy, but nothing like when you see the reporters on tv standing out there trying not to get blown away.

That said, we have had the power flicker a couple of times already, so I'm pretty sure we're gonna lose it at some point tonight.

For those of you watching TV and worrying about us specifically -- we are not under water. We haven't even had any rain yet, and we're not in a surge zone so all that stuff you see inundating Galveston and southeastern parts of Houston isn't going to come anywhere near us. They keep showing reporters on the weather channel and saying they're in Houston, but I think they're actually in southeastern suburbs like League City and Clear Lake. That's still quite far from where we live (on the west side, just outside of Beltway 8 and south of I-10).

We're still fine at the moment, though it's starting to get windy enough that I'm occasionally hearing it even inside the house.

5:49 p.m.

Sep. 12th, 2008 05:49 pm
cifarelli: (Ember)
I'm feeling better after my nap. :)

Corwin is doing fine as long as he has both parents present in the room. If one of us tries to leave for any reason, he melts down. (Yes, this is worse than usual -- usually he's fine as long as he has one parent.) He did take a good nap this afternoon though, at least.

We went outside for a walk again around 4:45. It has cooled off out there (yay for something positive?) and is windier than it was this morning. But still not bad at all. Nice walking weather. Two police cars drove into the neighborhood while we were out walking and one of them felt it necessary to use their loudspeaker to warn us that there is "a hurricane coming." *sigh* Yeah, we were out walking trying to get our 18-month old to expend some energy. :P

The weather channel says that 40% of Galveston residents did not evacuate. *sigh* Stupid, stupid people.

I'll keep posting updates when I have something noteworthy enough to say (hey, gives me something to do, and I know a few of you are interested.). If we lose power or cable/internet, updates will stop, of course.

1:11 p.m.

Sep. 12th, 2008 01:11 pm
cifarelli: (Ember)
Corwin is down for his nap. I'm going to go take a nap, too, so maybe I can be a bit less grumpy this afternoon.

Still looks breezy outside; there's maybe a little more wind than there was this morning, but still not much.

Neighbors haven't taken loose objects inside nearly to the extent I would like -- they have cinderblocks, a trashcan, and potted plants sitting out in their back yard. And diagonally behind us and down one house is a yard with a grill sitting in it. It's at least up against the house, but still...

Btw, this morning has been very boring so far. We're just twiddling our thumbs and waiting..waiting...waiting. Corwin is extra fussy 'cause he senses our tension. Usually I'm not the sort to go stir-crazy, but today I feel like I am. Hopefully that nap I mentioned will help with that. Less tired usually = better perspective for Paulina monsters.
cifarelli: (Ember)
So they've decided not to expend the effort to board up the upper-story windows in our house, with the exception of the attic window and our 3rd floor office window, both of which are set up to be done from the inside rather than the outside. Rationale for this is that it is too difficult to get up there from the outside, and by boarding them on the inside we at least prevent broken glass getting inside much and can hopefully keep out the worst of the wind and rain.

We appear to be the only folks in our neighborhood to put up boards at all. Corwin and I went outside and walked around a bit about an hour ago. As of then, it was occasionally comfortably breezy, but mostly just hot. One neighbor down the street was in the middle of moving his potted plants inside, and another was loading his SUV with what looked like bedrails. He wasn't outside when we actually walked past his house, so I couldn't ask if he was evacuating. And the neighborhood's two outdoor cats were both outside roaming around. Hopefully their owners intend to bring them inside later today. Annoyingly, I saw several trashcans still sitting outside, along with some bags of trash and a fair number of potted plants. That makes me nervous, but we barely have space in our garage to fit our cars and our own trashcan....storing other people's is pretty much out of the question unless we want them in the house with us. :P

I'm not having a good day so far. Didn't get enough sleep last night (my own fault -- I stayed up too late goofing off) so I am tired, and my body picked today for me to have menstrual cramps for the first time in months. And I was HOT earlier (with our ac set at its usual 77)...I've now set it down to 75 and I'm feeling better.

The board over the back door seems to disturb Corwin, I guess 'cause he's used to being able to see light and the neighbors' trees and such through it. He gets agitated every time he looks that direction and notices the board. And he's just fussier than usual i think...probably picking up on our moods. It doesn't help that I'm grumpy and therefore short-tempered.

The 10:00 a.m. Wind forecast has max sustained winds at 77 mph for our area. That's minimal Cat 1 hurricane winds. Ike itself is currently expected to be a large Cat 2 at landfall. The storm surge in Galveston looks like it will be terrible, though. The Weather Channel this morning was showing footage of a white car driving along the Seawall Blvd with waves washing over the road. And the hurricane is still 200ish miles offshore.
cifarelli: (Ember)
All of our downstairs windows and the back door are boarded up. That was all our boarding party (har!har!) could manage before they lost the light this evening. Current plan is for them all to get up uber-early tomorrow morning, check the forecasts, and conference via phone. If we're looking at a Cat 4 or 3 coming at us, they'll get their butts moving and do the upper windows in the morning before the weather gets bad. If it's a Cat 3 going to Beaumont, or a Cat 2, they'll leave things as is.

Many many thanks to Bob, Nancy, and Ralph for helping us out. None of them are on lj, but they deserve kudos anyway. :)

My job was baby-wrangling (i.e. KEEPING HIM OUT OF THE WAY) and fixing dinner for everyone. I think I had the easy work.

The good news is that as of now, the maximum forecast sustained winds for our zip code are down to 77 MPH. Lets hope this trend continues.

[EDIT: As of the 10p.m. update, Max forecasted sustained winds are down to 66 mph for us.]

Ike update

Sep. 11th, 2008 01:18 pm
cifarelli: (Ember) is now showing Forecasted Maximum Sustained Wind speed for our zip code of 96 mph. That's bare minimum Cat 2 winds. According to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, Cat 2 winds will likely cause "Some roofing material, door, and window damage of buildings. Considerable damage to shrubbery and trees with some trees blown down. Considerable damage to mobile homes, poorly constructed signs, and piers."

That sounds scarier. Still waiting for the 1 p.m. update to load...hopefully it gets better rather than worse. We're definitely boarding up, if there was any question about it before.

Currently waiting for my headache to subside (I just took some Excedrin); then I will get to work on cleaning up in here a bit...both for my own sanity if I am going to be cooped up for a day or so, and so it looks vaguely decent when Bob & Nancy come over later this afternoon to help us with boarding up.


Sep. 11th, 2008 10:43 am
cifarelli: (Ember)
So Ike is supposedly coming near to Houston, and we're currently scheduled to get the dirty side of it.

We don't live in a surge zone, even for a Cat 5 storm (which Ike is not supposed to be), so emergency planners, the city, etc. are all telling us to stay put and shelter in place. We evacuated for Rita because we were afraid of wind damage from what was at the time a Cat 5 storm tracking to head pretty much directly over our house. We were late Rita evacuees (we were actually on our way out of town when the radio announced that the hurricane was likely going elsewhere and evacuation was no longer necessary. But the car was all packed, the house was boarded up and we were already to Katy, so we kept going. And even so it took us 9 hours to get to Austin.

We have an 18-month old now. The idea of sitting in the car in stop-and-go traffic for 9 hours (and that was a short Rita commute) with Corwin in the car sounds like even less fun than it was when it was just Andrew and me. The idea of being stuck in our house without power doesn't sound terribly fun either, (not to mention being stuck in our house during a hurricane) but I don't think it's worth sitting in that kind of traffic to go to Austin now. If we could have left yesterday, I would have gone ahead and taken Corwin and me off to Austin for an unscheduled vacation, but the university where I work only an hour so ago announced that it is going to be closed this weekend. So we couldn't go case I needed to be back here to work at 9 a.m. Saturday and wouldn't have known in time.

Instead, we'll likely board up this afternoon or evening and plan to stay put unless things start to look really bad. If that's the case, we'll probably just "evacuate" up to Andrew's parents' house, which is a bit further north and has a generator (which is hopefully working by now....I know they were trying to get it fixed a few weeks ago). Likewise, if we ride out the storm and find ourselves without power afterwards, we'll likely go somewhere else then. I am of course assuming that roads will be passable and our cars will be in working condition...which are big if's. *shrug* I can only overthink so much.

Making me feel a bit better is which shows the "Forecasted Maximum Sustained Wind Data for the City of Houston by Zip Code." Currently for our zip code, that's 83 mph (Category 1 hurricane force). According to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, Cat 1 winds will likely cause "no real damage to building structures. Damage primarily to unanchored mobile homes, shrubbery, and trees. Some damage to poorly constructed signs."

Andrew's employer is closing at noon today, so he should be home reasonably soon.


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