Back in the day, hurricanes were a source of entertainment. Well, not the hurricanes themselves, but the opportunity for getting together with people to ride out the storm.
My mother's best friend, whom I called Thia Maria, lived with her husband in a big house on the "west end" of Galveston. We lived on the "east end." My father, being in the merchant marines, shipped out quite regularly, and Thia Maria took us under her wing. We were included in all manner of holidays and celebrations. Gloom and danger from impending hurricanes were no exception. Theo Demas, her husband, was dispatched by Thia Maria to swing by on his way home from "The Wharf," to pick us up and bring us to their house. One year, I remember, my brother and I were so sad that my mother declared that our cat would be left behind in our house. We got to Thia Maria's and spent the afternoon lamenting our problem until Theo Demas was dispatched to our house with one of us to gather the cat and bring him to the safety of the house on Denver. Nevermind the fact that, if Galveston had been hit by a big one, the chances were that none of us would have survived, let alone the cat.
In my recollection, before this weekend, there were only two really bad hurricanes that hit Galveston. I don't remember Carla, (I was about 2) but anyone can read about that storm. The next one was Alicia, and I was out of college and had just moved to Dallas at the time, living the high life of a bachelorette. Woo hoo. So, luckily for us, all those hurricane parties at Thia Maria's turned out to be alot of wind and rain, a few trees down here and there, the normal flooding of the usual spots on the island and no loss of life.
Enter Hurricane Ike. The local CBS affiliate in Houston, KHOU-TV, has been broadcasting continuously on the Weather Channel since yesterday. The dangerous thing about Ike has been its size and the size of the storm surge it has been pushing ahead of it. There was some flooding way down the island by yesterday morning, before the wind and rain actual made it. The eye of the storm didn't hit Galveston until 2:00 this morning. Right now, the stupid thing is passing over Huntsville. The outer bands of the storm are still dumping water on Galveston.
The media is a two-edged sword. While they are masters at creating hype and frenzy, with the technology we have today, they do disseminate a few valuable facts here and there. Despite all the tracking equipment, projections from meteorologists and warnings from city officials that rescue would be difficult at best and likely nonexistent during the height of the storm, there were quite a few people who chose to stay behind.
My mother still has a house down there. I've shared this tidbit by e-mail to a few friends: She does not care that her house might have been destroyed. She's worried that she has left her burial dress down there hanging in the closet. (Oh yeah, that's the first thing I would pack when I'm getting ready to go anywhere.)
Hope you are yours are safe and dry.