When I got up at 8:00 this morning Dan was watching the news, where they were showing the storm surge geysering over the Galveston seawall. The island was already flooding and even the non-alarmists on Weather Underground are saying that the 17-foot seawall will likely be topped and the island inundated.
It was disconcerting to see on video the familiar places flooding already and the spray over the seawall where I just was in June for that conference. The coastal community of Surfside is flooded too, with no roads visible, only the houses. The houses are on eight-foot stilts which won’t help with a 15-20 foot storm surge.
Many years ago my friend Kenny and his boyfriend rented a ginormous house in Surfside for the weekend, right on the beach. Kenny told me to come join them since they had invited a lot of people, bought huge amounts of food and alcohol and it was going to be one big party. I went and it wasn’t nearly the decadent, boozy sort of thing it probably sounds like. It was a cold cloudy weekend in April and we mostly stayed indoors watching movies. I walked on the beach a little. I sipped Bailey’s and scanned the dusky horizon through a brass telescope in an upstairs room. I found a blue shell among the beach grass near the deck where Kenny's friends grilled shrimp under tiki torches. In sum, it was a peaceful interlude in the chaos that was my 20s and I remember it fondly. The house, if it was still standing before this weekend, will likely be gone or irreparably damaged by Sunday.
That’s how things go on the coast.
We’re fine here. Dan and I gathered all our emergency equipment into one place this morning and then I went for a run on campus. There were still students there—dorm residents who had no place to go to. I could smell food cooking at one of the dorm cafeterias, so the students will be fine. Those dorms are built like bomb shelters. They look like them too, but that’s a topic for another time.
What I didn’t see on campus was squirrels. Yesterday I saw only one. I saw a few birds today, but only the hardy grackles who aren’t scared of anything. No mockingbirds, doves, sparrows, or any other kinds. I also didn’t see any feral cats. There are two that hang around the building where I work and they weren’t there yesterday. The animals know when something is up.
Right now it’s overcast and breezy out, but very pleasant. People are walking around the neighborhood visiting each other, letting their kids ride their bikes on the empty streets and doing last-minute pickup of stuff in their yards. A few people have boarded up but most have not. We have double-paned storm windows on our house and were advised by people who were here during Alicia that this should be sufficient.
What we’re getting is basically a Cat 2 hurricane in terms of wind and rain, with a Cat 5 surge. Since we’re 50 miles inland, the surge isn’t a concern. And my only worry regarding the wind is that I'd rather not be without power for very long. A few days of cooler weather are following the storm, so that will help, but it would still be no picnic.
Nothing to do but wait and see, though. We have lots of places we can go in the Austin and Dallas areas if we need to leave after the storm.
I’m doing laundry now and putting water into sports bottles and freezer bags to make ice that I’ll transfer to the fridge and to coolers if I need to. I did a lot of baking last night, although we've got plenty of camp food, too. I don't expect us to have any sanitation issues with the local water supply but we've got lots of bottled water as well as filters and tablets if we need them. I have glass bottles for pasteurizing water in the sun. Once the wind starts picking up this evening I’ll turn the a/c down as low as we can stand it to build up a nice cushion of cold. Then we’ll settle in and wait.
More later, as time permits. The worst part about all this is that the period when I'm likely to have the most time on my hands for blogging is when we'll be without power. Life is funny that way.