Friday, September 26, 2008

Hurricane Ike

I got back from Houston late last week. It was a huge mess down there. Some 750,000 folks are still without power and many are without water. Galveston is worse, of course, but, somehow, I almost think it is better to have your home totally destroyed that to try to keep living in a house with no services. It was very hot and humid but the air dried out a bit on Wednesday and that cooled things off. Many of the traffic signals are still out but people are generally driving very courteously, treating every intersection as a four-way stop sign.

My MILs house was not damaged but a neighbors large oak tree fell over onto her driveway and took the power, phone and cable lines with it as well as the pole they were attached to. Her power is not back on yet and neither is my SILs or my surviving BILs. My daughter was lucky in that she only lost power briefly. I spent most of my time down there getting some generators set up at my MILs house so they could at least have some light and run some fans. We set up two 5700 watt gennys that run for about 10 hours on 5 gallons of gas. One runs while the other rests. Wal-Mart has dropped their prices for all grades of gasoline in response to the storm, which really means a lot to those people down there. They are also keeping plenty of ice on hand at all of their stores.

They still do not know how many people died in the storm. They just let people back on Galveston Island last Wednesday. The people on the west end of the island are just allowed to look and leave as that end of the island was pretty well completely destroyed since the sea wall does not stretch down there. They know there are probably bodies in the rubble but no one has time to search for them right now. One rather poignant story concerned a 74 year old man who refused to evacuate the island as he was fearful that looters would steal everything he had. As the storm grew worse, he finally understood that his house was going to be destroyed and got in his pickup truck to try to escape. His last communication was a cell phone call to some friends on the mainland, saying that his truck was floating and he had lost control. They found his body behind the wheel after the storm. Sad but I am afraid that there will be many more.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Kafka Would be Proud

Last Thursday, my wife called me while I was travelling to Minnesota to tell me that her little brother, who was 52, had been killed in a car wreck in Kuwait. He worked for an oil field service company there. Her older brother lives in Houston and was trying to get the details of how the remains would be repatriated when the hurricane came through and knocked out his power. We were able to find out that his company will pay for shipping the body. The catch is that Kuwait is an Islamic country and they do not do embalming there, nobody, no how, becuase, under Islamic law, the body must be buried within 24 hours. Because of all the paperwork, his body will not be shipped to Houston until this Friday or Saturday. It will be in a sealed metal coffin, thank God, and will have to be buried immediately.

Now the catch is that, with all of the rain, etc., they may not be able to dig a grave without it filling with water. So there will be further delays. There are no plans for any type of graveside service but there will be a funeral Mass. However, my wife's family don't want to have that until his wife and daughter get to the US. She is Filipino and not a US citizen so the State Department has to issue her a travel visa but first they have to determine that she doesn't have a nuclear weapon in her underwear or something so who knows how long it will take for her to get here. Also, she cannot go back to Kuwait since she is no longer a dependent of a foreign worker there. My wife and her mother are on their way to Houston now but have decided to stop and stay with her sister in Fort Worth since there is no power at my MILs house in Houston. All the rest of the family that lives outside Houston are waiting with one foot out the door since we don't know when the service will be. What a mess.

Ray was a very troubled man. He got divorced some years ago and hated the US goverment becuase the judge gave his ex-wife so much. He was pretty well estranged from the rest of the family who didn't even know he had remarried. Estranged or not, blood is blood and they want to take care of him. It's just too bad that such a "perfect storm" of events had to prevent them from taking care of business on a timely basis.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

For my wife, on the occasion of our 37th anniversary. It's still there, babe.