Monday, September 15, 2008

My hurricane story

As of tonight we still have no power at our house in Spring Branch, however, my in-laws, who live in a seniors complex, have power and extended an offer for my wife, two girls and I to stay with them for the time being.

We lost power at around 11:30 pm Friday. I fell asleep before the full force of Ike made itself known. I woke up during the night and cannot even begin to describe the sound of 100 mph winds whipping around a house. We were very lucky as our house sustained no damage -- our back patio cover even survived.

On Saturday we surveyed the damage in the neighborhood and were struck by how fortunate we were, even without lights and air conditioning. The devastation less than half a mile from our house was unbelievable. Fifty-year-old oak trees were strewn all over the place. That night we got together with our neighbors and had a BBQ. Some supplied grills, some supplied meat and some supplied drinks and dessert. It was the kind of block party you would have seen years ago -- before the advent of cable TV.

Sunday was a rainy, miserable day. It became apparent that we couldn't access our cell network and we were reduced to texting -- if the messages would even go through. We knew we would have to do something soon as the conditions were becoming untenable for our one-year-old. Luckily, as I was driving around trying to locate a signal to make phone calls, I got ahold of my mother-in-law and she told me they had both power and water. I hurried back to the house, told my wife and began packing.

We hauled all the food out of our refrigerator and freezer and stuffed into a cooler. We grabbed a couple of changes of clothes and some toys for our girls and made the drive out to the west side of Houston. While the air conditioning was wonderful, what I appreciated most was being able to read after dark. I don't know if I have ever been so grateful as I was yesterday.

This morning I was able to pay my parents back (a little bit) for everything they've done for me. My grandmother, who is infirm, went to stay with my parents during the storm. They lost their power and were told it might be three weeks before it could be restored. Thanks to Jennifer Kahn, a colleague and member of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association, I was able to find a generator for my parents. I will be forever grateful to Ms. Kahn for her kindness and generosity.

For now we are in a state of flux. I have two cases set for trial next week and have no way of accessing my files as my office building is padlocked. I have no clue as to when my next paying client will call the office. I have no idea when we will be able to move back into our house.

I want to thank all of the people, National Guardsman, police officers, fire fighters and ordinary citizens who have been handing out ice, water and food at the various distribution centers in and around Houston. I have seen things the last few days that I never thought I would see in the fourth largest city in the United States, but I have also seen a spirit than can never be extinguished.

I wish to extend my best wishes for a safe return, both to home and to normalcy, for all of the people affected by Hurrican Ike along the Gulf Coast and to express my condolences to all who have lost any family members, loved ones or friends.

But, before I end, I must express my anger and disgust at the manner in which Galveston County authorities treated the people held in the Galveston County Jail. While local, state and national officials warned people that staying on the island was a deadly choice, Galveston County refused to evacuate prisoners to safer ground. I have a client, arrested for domestic assault, who was forced to ride out Hurricane Ike in the Galveston County Jail.

Now I've spent my entire life in Texas and I was taught that a man should never lay his hands on a woman, but domestic assault is not a capital offense -- and neither are possession, DWI or theft -- and it was wrong that my client faced a potential death sentence due to the callous indifference of Galveston County.

If you are reading this blog, and are equally outraged, please let Galveston County know of your disgust for their (in)actions.

1 comment:

Joni Mueller said...

Oh, I plan to. That's outrageous. Don't those imbeciles have a clue what 'mandatory' means?

Sorry your family's routine is still disrupted. Hope things get back to normal soon, especially for your wee ines.