Nowhere to Run
Well, here we are again, folks, smack dab in the middle of putting our lives back together after another storm tracked us down and kicked us in the kiester.
And when I say ‘tracked us down’, I mean tracked us down. Ike turned out to be an insidious stalker driven by a psychotic passion to annihilate Southeast Texas.
And boy, he didn’t do too shabby of a job either.
When I first started paying attention to Ike, the National Hurricane Center (no, not the one with all those wackos standing in driving wind and pounding rain yelling into microphones) said Ike would follow Hannah up the Southeastern sea board.
An old high school friend in Galveston who major domos our little chat group expressed concern of Ike. Me, smug with the hurricane center information, scoffed at the idea. “No way,” idiot me replied. “He’ll follow Hannah up the eastern coast.
The next day, my brilliant buddies at the hurricane center sent out an ‘uh oh!’
Seems the high that was supposed to remain stationary over us got itchy feet when a Pacific low started nibbling at its flanks.
A couple days later when all the knowledgeable prognosticators announced he was heading below Corpus, I took notice.
Think back to 2005 and the witch Rita. Same prediction. That’s when I got on the phone and found a spot up in Livingston. Still, I wasn’t too concerned.
We made preparations. One daughter, Amy, had to work at Baptist Hospital. Her husband and son went to Dallas. The other daughter, Susan, and her family stayed with her in-laws in Beaumont.
Unlike last time, we didn’t evacuate with the majority. I spent the day leisurely boarding up. We planned to leave around six or seven the next morning.
Around one o’clock, a neighbor who had gone to Jacksonville awakened me to tell me about the twenty-odd foot tidal surge coming.
By two, we were on the road.
No traffic at all. I cut through the Big Thicket to Highway 146, then zoomed into Livingston eleven hours before we could check in.
You have any idea what it’s like to piddle away eleven hours in a town that was boarding up for the storm? It ain’t easy. My first hint that I’d pulled a major mistake in selecting Livingston was when we went to McDonald’s for breakfast and were met with a sign in capital letters, CLOSED FOR THE STORM.
We were met with similar announcements around the small town. We drove back to the motel and waited, and waited, and waited.
Finally, the good Lord smiled on us, and a couple from Anahuac invited us into their motel room where it was nice and cool.
When we got to our own room, we sat plastered to the TV, watching Ike inexorably move closer and closer. Just like Rita, that monster kept easing in our direction.
Like many, I’d often wondered what it would be like to witness a hurricane from inside. I got the chance, and I never want it again. Fortunately, the motel had storm windows for more than one projectile bounced off ours. When we dared peek around the drawn curtains, we witnessed a silver veil of screaming wind and rain bending giant pines so sharply you expected to hear the splitting explosions as they snapped it two.
From five-thirty to twelve-thirty, we sat in the dark and near dark, listening and waiting.
And then it passed on.
I chided myself for stopping in Livingston until friends who journeyed farther north to Tyler and Kilgore told me they’d lost power also. Looking back, I realize this was one of those storms you couldn’t run from.
We’ve had more than our share this year.
We don’t need any more.