Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bloodied but a definite pulse

When the outer bands of Ike first touched the Texas shore, satellite images showed the hurricane to be size of Texas. It's funny to me how small the word, huge. This city, she recovers. Slowly. A little less than half the city is still without power. Many of my friends are in that percentage. Two of my friends own businesses that are nonoperational due to no power. Daily, the unique mix of frustration and worry colors their faces.

Extension cords run from neighbor to neighbor, across the street or window to window.

The trees that fell, the ones not yet sawed into manageable pieces, they are drying, dying, their leaves turning brown, enormous bodies of slow death alongside the road, scattered like toothpicks spilled this way and that on the floor of a diner, but it's the park, the street, the side of a house.

Sunlight falls where shadows used to be.

Generators hum where silence used to be.

Darkness fills spaces where light used to be.

The newspaper has a special Ike section daily, though each section from Sports to Business includes an Ike-related story.

Pockets of life return to normal; others obviously abnormal. My office opened Thursday, yet there was no traffic to or from work. Starbucks has become the community spot, with both power and coffee. People sit at the counters and over-stuffed chairs to take advantage of the AC and wireless. Many of the restaurants that are open are running on generators with limited menus. The neighborhood grocery store is open but the produce section and dairy coolers are empty. The stoplights in my neighborhood have gone from not working to working, to blinking red, to not working again. Tempers rise with the temperature.

Almost everyone I've had a conversation with has mentioned the day they broke down and cried, felt the exasperation, the sadness and the frustration build-up until it had to be released.

Strangers tell their stories, in grocery lines, ice lines, across restaurant patios, on the sidewalk while walking their dogs. There is strength to be found in the commonalities, compassion and empathy shared in the sharing.

Every day we learn how bad it was, is, but every day it gets better.

If you are wondering what is going on here, this is the answer, this is the postcard.


CreekHiker said...

Alison, I know it must be so difficult. My own family is still dealing with the aftermath of Gustav and it is not easy. And my cousin is in your neck of the woods restoring power.

Hoping life gets a little easier for you real soon!

ghost said...

has this happened in houston before?

Velvet Sacks said...

Hurricane Ike wreaked so much havoc on the Texas Gulf Coast, and I'm glad you came through it safely. You've done a beautiful job of describing the experience and its aftermath.