Talula’s Barefoot Books Blog

A running commentary on life as an online bookstore owner after 25 years in Early Childhood Education.

Posts Tagged ‘Hurricane Ike’

Children Helping Children of Hurricane Ike!

Posted by Talula on September 30, 2008

OPERATION C.R.A.Y.O.N [Children Rallying Assistance for Youth of Need] – WEBSTER & SEABROOK, TX – AUTHORIZED/SANCTIONED BY CCISD

I am a sucker for children helping other children on any given day, since i spent a career educating children. But this post hit too close to home to just read over, click and go on to other subjects.

These are kids in my own greater Houston/Galvestion area; reaching out to their friends and neighbors from Hurricane Ike damaged neighborhoods & schools, to give them what they will need to attend school in their own classrooms alongside them in Clear Creek Independent School District.  They asked for gently used school uniforms, shoes and school supplies, lunch boxes, backpacks.

They began OPERATION C.R.A.Y.O.N.  first in a garage in one home and then moved it to McWhirter Elementary in Webster, TX; the same location for enrolling displaced kids into CCISD. Thank you so much for posting this bosskitty at truthhugger.com and showing how our children can lead us into community service. You can reach someone by phone at the Office of Public Information at 281-284-0020.

If you might have something to share or want to volunteer to help them provide for children uprooted from homes and schools along the coast, follow the lead for information by clicking on bosskitty above and a list of still needed items is there; plus addresses for drop off of items in Webster & Seabrook [Seabrook lost 85-90% of its homes & businesses].

Thanks for any support you can give these amazing  pint-sized ‘Everyday Heroes’, Talula!


Posted in Children & Grandchildren, Families, Multi-Cultural, Teachers, Early Childhood ED. | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The After-Party Clean-Up From Hurricane Ike

Posted by Talula on September 28, 2008

FYI Update: I received a comment from Patti at harvardtohardhat.com here on wordpress that showed some great advice and information relevant to our disaster recovery operations here in the Southeast Texas & Louisiana coastal areas hit by recent hurricanes. She also wrote a highly praised book “From Harvard to Hardhat: How I Hired, Managed and Survived my Contractor” on how to deal with insurance companies, and how to hire & deal with  contractors & laborers as you start to recover from this disaster. Don’t re-invent the wheel! If you need help to save money or fight the insurance company for what you are due; go to her website to read what she discovered while dealing with a flood in her own home >  HERE!  <

Wellll… I survived physically. And so did all my various relatives; though many with damage to houses from the various elements (110 mph winds, surge, flooding, tornadoes, flying debri such as trees/cows/boats/ whole houses). Highways leading to the Galveston entrance & Bolivar Peninsula were impassable due to boats and houses covering the freeway lanes, plus damaged supports from that 15 foot surge and resulting debris.

Yesterday – Saturday September 27 was two weeks after the gulf coast storm as big as Texas arrived here and slam-dunked us (literally). Many parts of 15 or so counties (called parishes in Louisiana) were directly hit here, and deaths were attributed to Ike as far away as Canada, Kentucky, & Ohio (not to mention those in Haiti & Cuba before it entered the Gulf of Mexico). Approximately 400 people are still missing here, mostly from the Bolivar Peninsula towns of Bolivar, High Island, Red Oak, Gilcrest, Crystal Beach. After listening and reading survivors stories caught in the brutal front line of the eyewall on the Galveston Island & Bolivar peninsula – I fear many of those will never be found. About ten percent of the nearly 2 million homes still lack electrical power; although many folks banded together to help each other in neighborhoods, apartment complexes, nursing homes, or even in the hardest hit areas – whole towns.  

One story I read today of a young ex-Coast Guard member that stayed with his house (after sending his family to the mainland first for safety just in case), not believing that a Category 2 level storm could do much damage: really said it best. His own house began to teeter on its 14 foot pilings so he took his pets and loaded the truck and water rushed waist deep over  the road a mile or so from his house, so he jumped out and took the pets with him to a nearby sturdy-looking rental house and broke in to stay there. That house shook violently, water pouring in through boarded up windows and began to float. He knew it might break apart so after shoving furniture against the first holes in the walls; figured his best shot at surviving would be outside the house,  and climbed out the window and on to the roof peak — but then the house began to sink in the roaring water.   Next he swam to more open water, the idea being he would be safer from the debri banging into everything around him.  Eventually finding a piece of plywood to use as a boogie board, making some progress toward what he thought was a line of houses in the distance on the shoreline. They turned out to be the roofs of houses beached against the salt marshes and mostly submerged in the still raging water of storm surge; torn from pilings 15 miles away and across a small bay inlet. As he lay exhausted & thankful to be alive, he began to realize there were land (sand rattlers) & water snakes (water moccasins) and alligators everywhere; so as dawn began to light the sky, he began to look around to see what he could find to survive. Hard to believe; but he found  a bottle of gatorade, a childs life vest and a half-submerged kayak. After drinking the liquid, he used the bottle to bail out the kayak, wrapped the life vest around him as best he could and started to kayak out to more open water. Helicopters flying looking for survivors that first morning never saw him, so when he reached a small oil rig platform, he climbed up on it – and he saw searchers on the ground along the peninsula — he screamed until he got their attention. Those forestry rangers searching for survivors called in a helicopter to pick him off the rig and he was brought to a mainland hospital, where he stayed for 10 days.

His comment to a reporter asking if he would stay & rebuild; was that after feeling more terror than he ever thought he was capable of – he would only come down there in a moveable recreational vehicle that he would drive out at the least sign of a storm warning in the future, if at all.

Some hardy folks have said they would stay and re-build, some will never go back -will never live near the water again; others will wait for a year to see if the state will let them keep their property. Texas has a law called the “Open Beaches Act” which lets the natural sand dunes define the border of private/state property. since the sand dunes can re-build theirself within a year – those folks must wait for Mother Nature to decide if they own the property or the state of Texas does.

Personally; I can tell you that this particular hurricane has taken a tremendous toll on the mental health of myself, my family, and millions more of hardy, coastal residents used to hard lives. This has taken our collective experienced track records of how to rate the possible dangers of forecasted storms and wrecked that general guideline for measurement. That previous measurement was based on many factors from personal experience data to National Hurricane Center projections of possible danger levels, and of course our local governments reaction to previous storms. No one really wanted to deal with the massive problems from mass evacuations of 4-5 million people again. So many folks (my family included) weighed the possibilities vs the possible dangers. Most looked at the wind speeds & millibars measurements; wondering what it meant when those 2 National Hurricane Center and weather forecasters numbers contraindicted each other as they tracked the progress of this hurricane, hour by hour. All the officials assured us that this was continuing to be a low-level and low strength storm. I actually saw many days after the storm where national hurricane expert from Channel Eleven News Neal Frank stated just before landfall that Ike was a Cat 2 in Winds; but a Cat 4 or Cat 5 in storm surge!  I have to agree with him after seeing the wide-spread devastation left behind on our beautiful historic coastal towns.

I can tell you that many family members (including me!) and  our friends & neighbors felt very uneasy, their intuition telling them that something was very different with this storm.  We listened to the experts and went against our gut feelings – “hunkered down” in our homes. I hate that totally over-used phrase now. It will always remind me of the night of terror from a storm that all the experts assured us would not hurt us, just inconvenience us for a few days. THEY WERE WRONG! AND ABOUT 400 OF MY COASTAL NEIGHBORS & FRIENDS DIED BECAUSE OF THEIR ELECTED OFFICIALS BAD DECISIONS OR JUDGEMENTS! BASED ON THEIR INFORMATION — WE KEPT OUR BABIES HERE! THINKING THEY WOULD BE SAFE!

Sorry if I sound bitter – I have had enough tragedy in my life to know you cant always be prepared for what life throws at you – but this has shaken my trust in my own ability to make decisions based on sound logic and accurate information. I am not sure if I will ever rely on rational thinking again; instead trusting to my intuition or ‘gut feeling’ from now on…perhaps i will look to building a new life far from the coast in the next chapter of my life.

I know that I am beginning to recover emotionally from the fear for the safety of my children, gandchildren, mother and various other friends and relatives.  The depression of dealing with the flooded belongings is starting to lift, we are laughing again at ridiculus little things and we have grown closer – checking on each other a little more often. Hey! I even learned a new skill (?) during the night of the hurricane – I can now text on my cell phone – albeit v-e-r-y slowly!

I do hope life treats each of you well — as my family trys to cope with the recovery of ‘normal’ –Talula

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Hurricane Party Time here on the Texas Coast with Ike!

Posted by Talula on September 11, 2008

Edit here on these events Oct. 3, 2008: The Freighter was lashed to tugboats as the eye wall hit Galveston Island to help it ride out the storm, then the disabled ship (with its VERY THANKFUL CREW) was towed to a shipyard for repairs up the coast. However Galveston island and the Bolivar Peninsula were ripped apart as bad as the historic !900 storm, but with less loss of life. They are still trying to account for the missing approx. 350 people with the services of our local Laura Recovery Center. At least 10 whole towns were stripped of 90 % of their homes and businesses and the Gavleston Bay has catastophic damage to its boating and fishing industries. Tourism & resturaunt sites were hit extremely hard in the area; making it a nightmare for those area’s cities to get revenues from an non-existent tax base now. Without revenues – they can’t provide city services – to help the people who live there. it may several years to re-build most of the lost homes. I would venture to say that Hurricane Ike turned out to be a 500-mile-wide tornado, based on the scope & type of destruction left behind. Talula


OK – OK! The gig is up. It is our turn again to face one of nature’s biggest hissy fits — a Cat 3/4 Hurricane!

 Edited:6pm on 9/11/08 Note: just wanted everyone to know that we aren’t really idiots who actually love hurricanes because it gives us a reason to party — ‘Hurricane Party’ is a self-deprecatory way of telling each other to get ready for a big “blow” , you see the party aspect comes about while you are all boarded up in your home with various aged children who are excited & then scared and you have to plan on keeping them entertained so they are not scared out of their wits (not to mention various relatives who keep telling those ‘way back when’ stories designed to scare EVERYONE out of their minds). You cook lots of food becuase if the power goes out and the roads are flooded, your stored food in Freezers and refrigerators will spoil — cooked food will last longer than raw food, especially if you were able to have lots of coolers full of ice. Then of course just as the worst of the noise, rain, and wind in the storm is at it’s worst — you wish you had decided to evacuate because your house is about to blow away with all of your family in it — You REALLY NEED A STIFF ADULT BEVERAGE. Gulp! I now think I better have a second one! Gulp! OK — that does it and your head begins to clear of all those horrible images and your nerves begin to steady so you go back to being the one everyone in the family can depend on to keep them safe! That is the real origin of the Hurricane Party on the Gulf Coast!  Hope yall fare well in your home as you “Hunker Down!”, Talula.

________________________________Original Message_______________________________

Whithin about 48 hours the greater Houston, Texas area will be hit with the eye of a  massive September storm. And it looks like the administration of most of our county & township government people are making the exact same mistakes as they made in the Horrific evacuation of Hurricane Rita (when over a hundred people died as a direct result of the evacuation/not the storm).

As each update brings it one step closer to a direct hit on Houston — the wonderful new plan they had developed to evacuate by zip codes has been thrown to the winds (canceled) after only about 12 hours of attempting it. It is now by the old county-wide version. The new evacuation routes we were told would make it so much smoother — have now been changed as people have begun the voluntary evac. They siad take any road out BUT the state has closed several of the normal ones people use to run west or north away from the coast, they have left open the same ones we were all funneled to drive on during the massive evac which caused so many to die of heat stroke and related traffic fatalities. Meanwhile gas stations are running out of fuel (and plywood to board up prior to leaving) in the coastal areas – some are getting more fuel, some are not.

And you want to hear the most insane thing that could possibly have been said by a city admininstrator of approximately 60,000 people during the updates today. The illustrious ( I once thought to be very smart woman) mayor of the city of Galveston (an island off the coast of Texas and now directly in the path of the worst part of the hurricane) this afternoon stated that evacuation was only voluntary for the island because it was “too late” to order mandatory evacuations with approximately 55 hours prior to landfall. The damn woman ordered mandatory evacuations in Rita with only 24 hours prior to landfall! she has the Governor of Texas ready to give her all the help she needs to accomplish this action, with National Guard troops and transportation placed an hour and a half away in Houston straight up I-45! she blew it and I have the most horrifying feeling that many people will be injured or die due to her “too late” remarks.

This storm may come very close to the wind speed levels of Katrina, with a similar storm surge, and with our being a more flat geography — this means the main water surge (not including massive amounts of rain) will travel many miles further inland. Houston’s ship channel will fill up like a bathtub and spill into the heart of the city. Funny thing — Houston’s emergency management folks have never given scenarios for anything higher than a Category 3 Storm — Folks I know on the planning systems have always said that if a 4 or 5 were to hit here — Houston would be wiped off the map. Well — guess we will find out now won’t we! 

I feel that my own home will stand up to the water and most of the rain; although we have flooded many times in the past, I suspect from my past experiences that this one is probably going to widespread damage to our region.  I’m not so sure with 155 or higher wind or tornadoes spinning off the main storm. There also seems to be much more tornadic activity in this one called IKE, from the reports coming out of Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba, and Florida. I have checked on all my children and their little ones; everybody is prepared and have plans. Other relatives also have checked in. we are all as ready as we can be. I hope that each of you have learned to make disaster plans before you find that you need them. The one thing we recently learned was having cash tucked away for about a week’s worth of food & fuel in case we were stuck without a way to use cc or debit cards. Oh and one more thing — to have a person to all call in a faraway city to report in about each of our status. That person then relayed each persons safe location or problems so we could manage to help them when necessary. That really made a difference when it counted! 

Being the fourth largest American city (and bigger than some states) may mean that we have catastrophic damage to our electrical systems, water & sewage plants, and business/industrial complexes (not to mention the personal homes with major destructionand waiting a month for insurance folks to ‘verify’ damage before we can repair it).

I never thought I would ever again see water in this city where a flooded underpass would hold a firetruck floating on top of an 18-wheeler semi-tractor trailer rig! But my intuition is telling me that we may see that and more this time. I hope I am wrong — I do hope this is calling out ‘wolf’ and it turns out to be nothing. I can hope I am wrong and only time (about 3 days) from now will tell the story.  

We will most likely lose power this weekend – and with all our utility teams still rebuilding Louisiana towns from Gustav’s damage — it may be 2 or 3 weeks before we get it back. guess this may be the last entry here on the blog for a while, since I am on a PC hooked to the cable system here at the house.

I hope that I can report again soon on the effects we have around here at some later date; take care in your lives and hug your children an extra time or two for me while you read a bedtime story to them tonite.

I’m going to have another cup of tea and eat chocolate while I listen to the latest news on the storm; Namaste — Talula.

FYI Update: September 11, 9:45 am. Mayor of Galveston Lyda Ann Thomas’s prozac finally wore off and she has called for a full evactuation of the island, choking up over it – almost crying.

10 zip codes surrounding Galveston Bay have been given mandatory evac notices at 9:30am to leave at 12:00 noon today (including my daughter, her husband and 2 of my grandsons) But most refuse to leave; saying they would rather die in their homes rather than die in a car on the side of the road trying to escape this disaster-in-planning! I can’t blame them — I went through the horrendous attempt to vacate the houston area taking 16 hours to get my mother out of danger from the aspect of a Cat 5 storm in a 120 mile drive that normally takes 2 hours max — we all were in the secondary stages of renal failure from the dehydration & heat stroke. My truck’s transmission locked up from the first 6 hours of trying to go 25 miles and had to be abandoned by the roadside. We threw everything i was carrying into my mom’s truck right in front of me (thank goodness it was a diesel and easily handled the 5-6 miles an hour forward speed for the rest of the day/night’s journey) and i walked away without a second thought about my vehicle. We had to stay away from the area for 7 days (in a weakened physical & mental condition) but we were very lucky in that we had taken the travel trailer to stay in — we were spared the ‘public shelter’ ordeal.

Well — time to go see the new coordinates that should have been announced 10 minutes ago– and see if I have to load up the truck and then beg 7 plead with my 75 year old mother to leave and go northwest. hell maybe we should  just go south — I hear there are lots of empty rooms and beaches in Padre Island down Corpus Christi way! Later, MAYBE! Talula.

Update 12 hours prior to landfall. well the national  hurricane center was right! Galveston Island is going under the water as we speak. almost very road on the island is covered with water and many neighborhoods are starting to flood now. The Sea level is top even with the Galveston Sea Wall; and the real 20 foot surge wave has not even come close to shore yet. The reporters keep saying it is surge but it is just regular coastal flooding in Front of the Storm Surge. (Note the tide is out and due high tide will coincide with landfall of the storm – lucky us!)

One major incident has occurred with a freighter trying to find a bay to shelter in, but its engines became disabled 50 miles out and it is carrying 22 sailors on board.   The Coast Guard attempted but the winds were already too high for their water-rescue attempts — so some behind the scenes government wrangling went on and word is now that the Pentagon is bringing in its deep sea rescue equipment and personnnel. A few more small & medium towns gave mandatory evactuation orders; but the majority of Houston area folks (us included as we bump up to the Houston City Limits) are sheltering in place with our own neighbors and families all checking on each other regularly.  One personal story here — my 75 year old mother is notorius for panic at the last minute so all day yesterday shen insisted to all my adult children that she didn’t need to board up or do anything else but wait for the storm  — guess what — she began to panic this morning — about 7am and all of them had to come over and spend two hours boarding up and moving furniture for her. she was steadfastly refusing to let me help her do anything – so I did all I could to get prepped. Thank Goodness they know her well enough and had finished all their own preparations, and of course they all called and insisted on showing up to help. So we are all buttoned up now and ready to start our cooking a cake, cookies, and pot roast to eat tonite and tommorrow during the worst of the storm. My kids are all back at their own homes and starting their own Kiddo’s Hurricane Parties. I do hope all stay safe in our region as we get ready for this ‘big blow”. Take care; Talula.

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