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My Hurricane Ike Blog
by Donald Ray Burger
Attorney at Law

Note: I will use this page to update what is happening to us in Houston during Hurricane Ike. I first did this during Hurricane Rita. Those blog entries are set out below. I like the blog idea because it allows friends and relatives across the U.S. to find out the latest even if they can't get a phone call through.

Thursday, September 17, 2008:

Today I spent my outdoor time repairing the downed fence in the bee yard. Yesterday afternoon I repaired the backyard wooden gate near the railroad. I had to replace two horizontal braces to which the hinges attached. I went to C&D Hardware (they were open on a generator) and bought the necessary nuts, bolts and washers. I measured and sawed the two braces from left-over fence slates from a prior repair. Gary from next door helped attach the hinges while I held the fence up.
Today I went after the beeyard fence. It was cool, which is always a help when wearing a bee suit. I chose to wear the suit and veil and gloves because of all the hammering I would be doing. Fortunately, only two bees showed the slightest interest, and they left quickly, without incident. (Note: I did get a bee sting earlier in the week when I accidently "picked up" a bee while cleaning oak leaves off the waterfall. Ouch.)
A run to Lowes got me two 2 x 4 eight foot pressure-treated braces. The 4 x 4 was only loose in the soil, not broken. I took off fence staves, braced the 4 x 4, replaced the broken studs (and used metal angles to reinforce the joints), nailed everything in place, and reattached the fence staves with galvanized screws and the Black & Decker battery operated screw gun. It made a hard job go much faster. Still, by 5:30 p.m., I was not quite finished. I still have to mix the quikcrete and add it to the hole I dug.
On another note, I got a call from Suzie Thursday afternoon that the lights are back on at the office. I will go in to work on Friday. Still no lights here at the house, and no indication on when we will be getting them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008:

11:00 a.m. Sorry for the lack of postings. We lost power at 7:35 p.m. on Friday, in the pre-opening salvo of the storm. I say "pe-opening" because when the transformer blew across the street the winds hadn't even arrived with any force. Instantly, the houses, including ours, on the west half of the cul-de-sac lost electricity. The houses on the east were fine. Ugh. No more computer.
We still don't have power back. I am able to get on-line because our neighbors let us run an extension cord from their garage to our house. We run one thing at a time. Usually that is the freezer, or the refrigerator, in alternating sessions. Right now I unplugged the refrigerator to spend a little time on the internet looking for an electrical generator. But, before I get to that search, I wanted to post this entry to let everyone know that we are fine, the house is fine, and all is well. We lost three sections of the fence, and the fence gate. We lost a couple of roses, and some small slats on the arbor. The pond is fine. The garden railroad track was moved by the wind, but looks okay. More later.

Friday, September 12, 2008:

6:55 p.m.
Bill & Nicole, Chris, Donald & Patricia, and Maria & I (plus assorted children) met in the middle of the cul-de-sac for an update. Bill has braced his garage doors with a nifty system of 2 x 4's. He heard that garage doors are "like sails" and that they will blow in. We will see. He also took his satelite dish down. We immediately went up and looked at ours. Maria, Bill and I were of the opinion that it is well placed and not likely to fly off. I was relieved, because we would have been reduced to small tv's and computers for info.
The wind is brisk, but that is it so far. We are having spaghetti and fresh bread for dinner. And popcorn for dessert. The fear mongers on tv are still pushing the news that Ike will barrel right through downtown. Alicia, which did come through downtown, was a category three storm, and Ike is a strong category two. Weather.com is still showing the highest wind for the Heights at 64 mph at 4 a.m. Let's hope they are on the high side. Current readings are winds of 27 mph with gusts to 46 mph.

Friday, September 12, 2008:

6:02 p.m.
The wind started to kick in at 5:30 p.m. Kids are still playing in the street, trying to fly white garbage bags as kites. Unsuccessfully, for the most part. We took another walk through the yard. I noticed that the bees are still going in and out of the hive, and that the plastic guard I put up to stop lawn-mower debris from hitting the front of the hives was flapping in the wind. I quickly untied it from its wire hangers and took it to the garage.
I went up to the rec room above the garage and spied the two Coleman butane tent lights we have. I brought them down, plus two of the five extra butane tanks. We have plenty of flashlights and candles, but these lamps give off great light.
I also brought down four five-gallon pails I use for honey collection. That gives us another twenty gallons of potable water.
On the way inside, I noticed the wooden sign we have above the rocker on the back patio. It reads: "It's alright to have too much fun." I agree, but I got the ladder anyway and took the sign down. When Ike is gone, we may need a sign to remind us of the benefit of fun. Several area cities, including Surfside, Galveston, Pearland, LaPorte, Dickinson and Richmond, have imposed curfews starting at seven p.m. As a hard-core libertarian, I do not like this development. It erases the presumption of innocence and I do not like it that we accept these disruptions of our liberties so easily. Criminals may be out in the storm, but they will be of the mentally diminished type, and the police do not need the extra ease of a curfew to do their jobs. It is dangerous when we accept such government intrusion without protest. This is my protest, although there is no curfew for the Heights.
We need to think through things like this. It is easy to say, "Only nuts and thieves would be out in such a storm." Of course, this is not true. Police are out, else what good is the curfew. Plus, it is no business of the government why I am out after seven, or any other hour. Let them watch me if they are suspicious, but until I have done something, they must exercise the same respect for my right to move about as they should at any other time. If you are not convinced, read the Ray Bradbury short story called "The Pedestrian."
Back on the physical storm, the 6:15 p.m. radar shows outer bands of rains now touching Houston. This must be the wind we are experiencing. No rain at the moment.

Friday, September 12, 2008:

3:21 p.m.
The first light rain began to fall at 3:00 p.m. Maria and I arose at our normal time and took Sarah for a walk. It was very quiet. When we got back I went for my motorcycle ride (the freeways were deserted) and then fixed breakfast. After eating, we began finishing up the process of getting all the yard art put away. Bird feeders, gazing balls, insect art, chairs, tables and a hundred other itmes were stowed either in the garage or in the vegetable garden. Bird baths were disassembled and leaned over. I put two cinder block on the top of each bee hive. Next year I am surely going to harvest the spring honey flow before hurricane season. Getting "hurricane" ready is lots of work.
Around nine, I showered, and headed to the office. On the way, I stopped at Rice Epicurean to buy some garbage bags to wrap the computers at the office. The shelves had quite a bit of merchandise. There was lots of bread and bottled water. I got some King Oscar sardines, pork and beans and the garbage bags. I then headed for the office.
Dominic and I readied the offices for Ike. We placed 30 gallon garbage bags around the fax, printer, computers and lots of other things. We went through 15 bags. Yikes.
I had brought some 10 mil plastic from another hurricane and I wrapped the fax desk, my computer desk, my main desk and the credenza. There is a window in my office that makes me nervous. Dominic's window is somewhat protected by the buildings atrium, so we weren't as concerned about wind-driven water from it.
We were finished by 12:30 p.m. Dominic refused an offer to stay with us, and headed for his apartment. When I got home Maria had almost everything at the house hurricane ready. She fixed lunch, we took Sarah for another walk, and set the bread machine to work on a loaf of bread. When I finish this blog, I am starting a batch of peanut clusters. Quick energy food.
The storm is still headed to Houston, but Weather.com has an hour-by-hour prediction of the wind in the Heights. The highest number is currently 64 mph. Of course, that could go up or down. Still, I was reassured by the (relatively) low number. The media is having a fit showing water on the streets of Galveston. Not much wind here yet. Stay tuned.

First entry: Friday, September 12, 2008:

3:00 a.m.
Sarah, our ten year old golden retriever, jumped on the bed and signaled that she wanted to go outside. I decided, since it is almost exactly 24 hours till the estimated landfall, that I would indulge her.
We went downstairs and out the back door. Sarah took off at a run, barking along the way. While she did a circuit of the backyard, I looked up at the sky. There was absolutely no indication that a storm was barrelling down directly on Galveston. It made me appreciate Issac's Storm, and the book by the same name.
I fired up the computer (obviously) and checked the latest path on the Weather Channel (www.weather.com). No real change from the ten o'clock path. It is still headed directly for us.
I then ran the video loop on the latest Weather Channel report on the storm. Nothing new there either. Except that the weatherman illustrated how the planes take their readings. He noted that the maximum wind speeds are measured several thousand feet above sea level (which makes sense, although I had never focused on that before), and that the surface winds are often 10% lower. A bit of good news.
Ike is encountering dry air at its forward edge, and this (so they say) has helped keep the storm from intensifying as much as they had predicted.
That's all for this first entry.

My Hurricane Rita Blog
by Donald Ray Burger
Attorney at Law

Note: I will use this page to update what is happening to us in Houston during Hurricane Rita. Phone service is already erratic. If you can't get through, don't worry. Circuits have been busy since Wednesday. Read the latest here.

Saturday, September 24, 2005:

7:00 am (last entry in blog):
I just returned from checking around the house. We did not lose electricity. Or water. No broken windows. The wind was pretty loud, but the rain was pretty light. According to the three rain gauges I placed around the yard, we got eight-tenths of an inch of rain.

It is still raining, but not very hard. I have spied some shingles around the yard, but I don't know if they are from my roof. Several plant pots tipped over. But, all-in-all, we definitely dodged a bullet. Thanks to everyone who emailed and called in their concerns. Your thoughts were appreciated.

02:45 am:
The wind woke me up. Rain is still pretty light. No street flooding. And, of course, we still have electricity. The wind varies in intensity. At times it is really calm, and at times it seems fairly fierce. As I type this entry, I can hear stuff blowing into the front of the house. It wouldn't take all that much to break a window glass. But, so far, no problems. It is weird when a window vibrates from the wind. Not a pleasant sound.

I'm not sure if I'm going back to bed, or if I'm staying up and reading. The TV coverage is fairly repetitive at this point. Looks like we have a few more hours of wind. No tornadoes on our side yet. Keep your fingers crossed.

Friday, September 23, 2005:

11:10 pm:
I'm going to bed. I figure, if anything happens in Houston, it will happen between 4 am and 7 am. I should wake up. Nothing has happened until now. I took Sarah for a walk, then I took Cody for a walk. I wore my outback hat, with stampede strings. Didn't need them. The streets are still dry under the trees. We still have a light rain/mist falling. A few gusts. That's it. I am making a fresh pot of coffee, just in case we lose power overnight. But that is the end of the preparations. If I wake up, I'll add another post. Otherwise, see you in the morning.

9:15 pm:
Nothing to report within the last two hours. Winds are around twenty mph. That is the case throughout Houston, as per Channel 11. It sprinkles, from time to time, but no serious rain. We heard that the only neighbors to leave spent eighteen hours getting to San Antonio. Normally, that trip takes three hours. Ugh. Several neighbors have been by to swap DVDs, so we all have something new to watch, if we aren't watching the weather.

We just learned that there are power outages in parts of Dickinson. No serious power problems in Houston, so far. All flashlights are armed and spread throughout he house.

We just finished supper. I advised everyone to take a shower tonight, just in case we lose water. Nothing else is happening. I am posting this entry just to keep in practice. All is well.

7:15 pm:
We had a little rain around 7pm. It barely wet the strets. I have three rain gauges out. Winds are gusting, but not too badly. It is dark out, and it is early for darkness to hit. I've filled both bathtubs, and all our five gallon containers of water. We have 25 gallons in the five gallon containers, and lots of water in tupperware, etc. Obviously, we still have electricity.

As of the 7 pm coordinates, the center of Rita will land east of Galveston. It is not clear yet whether we will experience hurricane force winds. Channel 11 is reporting that Galveston has already lost electricity along the Seawall.

Everyone here, dogs included, is fine. Stay tuned.

1:30 pm:
Not much is happening here. All the outside stuff is in, including the garden railroad buildings. We fixed both frozen pizzas and are just waiting for Rita to make up her mind. She is still headed for Galveston and the weather people are still projecting she will turn north and miss us. She is moving at 10 mph and is 190 miles away. That would mean the center would hit shore in nineteen hours. It could easily be twenty-four hours before the eye passes Houston. This doesn't fit in with what the news media is saying. They are saying landfall during the night. The math doesn't add up.

Otherwise, everyone is calm. Breezes have picked up a little, but there is no significant weather yet. More later.

10:30 am:
The morning has been cool outside. There is a slight breeze. No effects from Rita yet, weather-wise. We have moved the 4 and 6 mil plastic inside, along with box cutters, brooms for broken glass, dust pans, hammers (to finish breaking out windows), and water containers.

The big discussion so far has been whether to have hot pizza for lunch or to wait till supper, and chance that we still have electricity. Lunch won. I smoked two chickens last night, and that will probably be supper.

I am going outside in a moment to do my "Plants in Bloom for September" report, before the expected 60 mph winds blow the blooms away. All outside stuff we thought could blow around is in the garage, except the garden railroad buildings. I will move them in shortly.

Both Sarah and Cody are doing fine. Will is still asleep. The 10 am report on Rita is still reassuring. It seems that the storm will mostly miss us. Rita is also weakening. It is barely a Category Four storm now. The eye is not well defined. These are all good signs.

We just heard that a levy in New Orleans broke again. The newscasters are showing rain already hitting that city. We are still dry here in Houston. Stay tuned.

6:00 am:
I awoke at 5 am. The radio was optimistic. The 4 am coordinates for Hurricane Rita were 26.8 N and 91 W, with a direction of northwest. Speed was 9 mph. That still puts Rita on a track to hit at Sabine Pass, well to the east of Galveston (and Houston). Last night, Channel 11 said we would know for sure by this morning. Now, they are saying to stay tuned until this afternoon. Still, I am optimistic. I have fed Sarah and Cody and let both of them out in the back. I have the coffee primed to brew, and I am about to head out for my morning ride. More to come.

Thursday, September 22, 2005:

10:00 pm:
The news continues to be that the storm will hit east of Houston. That puts us on the dry side. That means we will face high winds, but no rain. And the hurricane is weakining, so the winds will be less that predicted earlier. They are saying that we should know for sure in the morning. Stay tuned for that.

My friend Lupita traveled from her apartment to her brother's house in Kingwood. That is normally a 45 minute drive. Today it took five hours. Ugh. Another friend, who headed for Laredo, left at 5:30 am and was still thirty minutes out at 7:30 pm. That's fourteen hours for a trip that normally takes five and a half hours.

We are dog sitting for John and Nadine. Cody and Sarah are getting along, and both were eager for their evening walk. If it's true that animals can sense upcoming disaster, these dogs don't seem upset. In fact, Cody was walking faster than he had all day. And he had been active the whole day long. Both dogs are waiting for me upstairs.

As of tonight, only one family decided to leave the neighborhood. Everyone else is sheltering in place. Tomorrow night may be a long one, so I am headed for bed. I think I will sleep well, because everything still indicates we will miss the big one.

2:15 pm:
I called Cynthia, my paralegal. She left Houston last night, using backroads I have talked about on my motorcycle blog. It worked out beautifully. She made it to Temple, Texas, without serious delay. And her daughter is enjoying all the disaster tools and equipment Cynthia and I got for her on Wednesday, before they left. It is good to know they are both safe, regardless of which way Rita goes. I am about to head out on my daily motorcycle ride. To read my motorcycle blog, click here.

1:45 pm:
Ron and Will returned. They barely made it to Highway 146. Traffic on I-10 was at a crawl. Six hours to go forty miles. They gave up and returned.

Maria and I have been removing yard art from the trees and fences. Slow work.

Noon:
At ll am I was in my car, headed for a lumber yard to buy 6 mil plastic to cover my office furniture. I am blessed with an office with windows. However, this is a mixed blessing in a hurricane. Anyway, the lumber yard was open, and had the plastic. $75 for a twenty by one hundred foot roll. And well worth it. It made draping the desks and credenza fairly easy.

More to the point, the radio reported the first hint that Rita may entirely miss Houston. It continues to turn to the north. Louisiana now is in its path. We would be on the dry side. At least under this one scenario. One that seems plausible to me.

We finished wrapping my office, and on the way home the "officials" were saying that we should not be feeling confident yet. "Yet" is the operative word. Of course, a hurricane often changes directions. But such turns are determined by meterological factors. Hurricanes are not alive, with minds of their own. I have not yet performed my own weather analysis of the full effect of the shifting high that is accounting for this turn. But things look better than they did this morning.

Also, Nadine dropped Cody off to stay with us. Cody is a twelve year old golden retriever. He and Sarah have been deciding who will rule the roost. So far, Sarah is winning.

8:00 am:
Ron and Will headed for Louisiana to pick up a generator Ron had loaned out during Katrina. They left at 5:45 am, heading east on I-10. Ron called about 6:30 am to say traffic was bad. Haven't heard since. We took Sarah for her regular morning walk. We are now finishing breakfast and heading for my office to waterproof things. Channel 11 is reporting that the highest wind expected in the inner city is 90 mph, and that is with Galveston taking a direct hit. Please see my other hurricane pages, especially the section called Observations about Hurricanes for my editorial opinions. More later.

Copyright © 2005 Donald Ray Burger. All Rights Reserved.

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