Friday, September 26, 2008

Living Off the Grid

Ok, so Hurricane Ike blew onshore the night of Sept. 12. I had been in Turkey for a week - got home the afternoon of Sept. 10. That's a story for another time. Houston was pretty much closed on Friday to keep the roads clear for the evacuees from the coast - Galveston, etc. Three years ago, after Katrina and Rita and being without power for 36 hours, I went out and bought a 5500 watt generator and a little 6500 BTU window AC. It was like 97 degrees the day after Rita hit, and we lost power for 36 hours. I wanted to be better prepared to deal with that if it happened again. Filled up the cars and all the gas cans, got out the generator - first time out of the box. Ike had taken dead aim on Houston.

B&K and the kids went to the high school - deep inside the high school. Very safe there. B&T came to our house. We also had all the dogs and the cat. Ate, had popcorn - a huge batch - played cards and Monopoly and watched the storm approaching on TV. Oh, and plenty of Mudslides. Finally went to bed about midnight. I slept pretty well, actually. Could have been the Mudslides. Ike hit and our power went out about 12:30. Ike actually came right through here - the center of the eye passed just a very few miles, under 10, east of us. It got really quiet for a while around 5 or 6 am.

We, of course, had no idea at the time, but that was the beginning of 12 days without power. It's now 14 days after Ike, and we have friends who still have not had their electric service restored, so I guess we're relatively lucky. However, some lost power for like 2 hours. Yup, 12 days. B&K and the kids were able to get here past all the down trees and debris and power lines after several hours. We ate really well - bacon, eggs and hash browns on the grill is really good. I had 50 lbs. of propane for that, too. The first week really wasn't too bad. Everyone was here and was ok, we had enough power for the fridges, a few lights, the TV, the little AC, and, with careful power management, the coffee maker and the microwave. It was really good family time. After a few days, the drone of the neighborhood generators and the startup, shutdown and refueling rituals started seeming normal.

An oak tree in B&K's front yard fell, hitting a corner of the house and the truck. The truck was not hurt too badly - a few dents and scratches and loss of an outside mirror. The roof damage, though, let the rain in and did a lot of damage to the kitchen. They'll have to have cabinets, counter, cook top, floor plus all the sheetrock work, etc.

As the week progressed, we found we could get the HD broadcast channels with rabbit ears on the big TV, the kids could watch DVDs, and things settled in. A lot of fuel runs for the generator, and it was a real treat when we could get fresh produce again on about Wednesday.

Anyway, at about 8 pm on Day 12, our power was restorecd. And I had just reconfigured the generator to make the house outlets and lights live so we wouldn't have to have extension cords everywhere. It still seems strangely quiet without generators on. This weekend, I'll change the oil in it, drain the fuel, and make sure it's ready for next time. If you take care of your generator, it'll take care of you. Twelve days off the grid was plenty. We're thankful we were all together, had no injuries, had reasonable weather after Ike's passage, and didn't suffer any major losses. A lot of houses around here with trees through the middle. I've heard numbers like $1500 to $6000 to get the trees off of/out of these houses. Plus the water damage from the rain. We were pretty lucky, and the family was great.

Maybe more details at another time, but to close, take a look at the last post - our "Deuce" family vacation last July in Galveston. Our neice, one of the Deuce participants, while busy surfing the net at work one day, found this photo. This is looking west on San Luis Pass Rd. on Galveston Island, in the vicinity of 1st Street in Terramar Beach. The house farthest to the left in this photo, and the two story house behind it, are the Deuce. We went through a lot of Dos Equis on that porch. Still there, but the beach is apparently behind the houses now instead of in front.

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