Have you ever been through something so traumatizing and devastating that it gave you nightmares? One of my worst experiences was of hurricane Katrina. Everything was unexpected from the time we were informed, during the storm, and even the aftermath. One thing I can say is that it was one unforgettable experience. One beautiful morning I was sitting in the living room eating breakfast before school, as usual, when something caught my attention. The news anchor was informing us of a tropical storm forming in the Bahamas. Predictions said it would be in route for Louisiana. It really didn’t bother me because we rode out every other storm so this one here was just going to be a breeze. Later on I would find out I was totally wrong. They issued a mandatory evacuation of the entire city. By us living on the outsurts we still were thinking ‘How bad could it really be?’ With our minds still made up we started preparation.
I remember the day Hurricane Ike struck Texas and Louisiana back in 2008. It was Friday night, September 12, 2008, in Houston Texas. I was 11 at the time and my mom and dad were sitting in front of the TV watching as Ike crept closer towards Texas. My dad went to Walmart and got some dry food, flashlights and batteries for the storm. I was really nervous because of the size of Ike (it was 450 miles wide!) and the damage it might cause overnight. I was walking around thinking the worse and even taking a long last look at my apartment complex with my neighbor’s friend!
It started getting windy around 6 pm (winds around 40 mph) and we got scared and ran home. Twigs from the 100 foot pine trees started to break off and leaves were flying everywhere. My mom and I were walking to Pops Supermarket to get some last minute things and the checkout line was long. When we were finally done, the winds blew open the door and everybody went silent.
We went home quickly. Dad was in the bedroom with his hardhat on playing with the flashlight as he watched the news. There was a phone bank with citizens asking questions to Dr. Neil on Channel 11 about what kind of damage they could expect. I ran outside at 10 pm and the winds were still at 40mph but they started to gust past 50 and I was on my porch watching the palm tree near me sway in the wind. The tall pine trees were bending slightly as I heard them rustle in the wind. More leaves and trash were airborne now.
I couldn’t stand against wind as I tried to go downstairs and the wind kept pushing me back. I gave up and went back upstairs once my folks told me it’s no longer safe to be wandering. The wind was howling at the back window. My dad managed to use an old bed to cover the window and it was reinforced with the couch in his bedroom. I tried to fall asleep but the wind was howling constantly and gusts started to become a little more frequent. At around 11:30 pm, it was getting blustery outside and my dad tried to microwave a burrito (worst time for a snack!) and the lights started to flicker. We ran to the closet but we started to fuss when my mom didn’t want to get in. She was terrified and we tried to calm her down but another loud gust blew in and the carport downstairs started rumbling.
The wind was starting to make squealing and screeching noises. We were silent for a couple minutes staring at the back window. I could see an outline of the trees whipping in the wind from the street light. Dad and I went inside and mom slept in the living room. For another 30 minutes the lights would flicker as we listened to Paul and Tom on the radio. I lay down on the floor and dad sat on his big tool box playing with the flashlight. Around 12:30 am, we lost power and he winds got louder. It sounded like a train one minute and a wolf howling the next second. The winds were probably between 70 and 80 by that time. My dad went out to get my mom but I remember my mom opening the door to look outside to get a peek. It was terrifying. In the sea of darkness the palm tree was bending back and forth violently. Water was falling from the roofs like Niagara Falls. The giant pine trees were bending at 45 degree angles with branches snapping off.
Mom closed the door and finally took refuge in the closet. She was crying at one point and we told her we were going to make it out. At 1:30 am the back window shattered and glass and rain started to come in. I flashed a light to help dad see and he had to get some trash bags to cover the TV and computer in his room and push the couch to push the beds that were covering the broken window back up but the wind kept pushing them down.
Around 2:00 am, the radio said Ike made landfall at Galveston and Houston and the surrounding area was being battered by high winds and heavy surge flooding. Dad took note of the sky looking orange when we opened the closet door to let some cool air in since it was hot inside the closet! I heard debris hitting the building and the wind was deafening. The winds were above 75mph around that time. All night the wind was screaming. We spent 10 to 12 hours in the closet until noon Saturday.
It was a mess outside. Shingles littered the floor and tree branches and twigs were everywhere. My dad’s old pair of shoes were still next to the door! The courtyard was even worse. Pine trees were snapped in half and entire trees were down on the ground. I helped our neighbors clean up the debris and clear the pathways. Dad went to get more food and water. We ate what we could and had to walk around to find some food and hot water. Mom and dad were upset but glad we made it out unscathed. We walked around the neighborhood seeing the damage. A lot of tree damage and some leaning power lines. I couldn’t sleep that Saturday night with all the humidity. My mom and I were listening to updates from the mayor and city officials.
We were both scared out of wits and I cried but my mom reassured me that we made it and we are OK. By Sunday afternoon the power was restored and we started to learn about the true devastation Ike did to the state. I was thankful that we didn’t lost our home or lives for that manner. Some areas along the coast were wrecked or wiped out from the storm surge. I remember the reporter on 13 trying to get a grip on his emotions as he went through the damage and ruins at Bolivar Peninsula. Watching the wreckage, it ran a chill down my spine but but it showed me the true power of these cyclones. Ike would cause me to take preparations more seriously and now I stock more supplies to prepare for every season. I know it’s not much of a story but tropical cyclones are nothing to mess with.