Friday was 9/11…a day to always remember. It was one of those moments in time that will forever be etched in my brain. And, each year on 9/11, we all have the opportunity to remember and reflect. …To be grateful to those serving our country in response to all that happened on that day.
Last year, though, I must admit to not spending time remembering or reflecting on 9/11. I’m not proud of that, but it was only that I was preoccupied with wondering if my house was going to be blown away. Close friends of ours joined us in evacuating to my parents’ ranch where we sat glued to the laptops and the tv….much like the day of and the days following the 9/11 events.
I no longer live in the country, but rather, down near the Texas coast. My house was right in the path of Hurricane Ike–as big as Ike was, nearly any house on or near the Galveston coastline was in his path. And, last year, at this time, Ike barrelled through our area, with a vengence.
Ike was huge.
Like, crazy huge.
The weather forcasters were telling us that the most damaging aspect of Ike would probably be the storm surge. In other words, when a hurricane moves on land, it brings with it the water that the storm has been gathering and pushing ahead of itself. Then, as if the initial surge inland isn’t bad enough, the water then has to find its way back to the ocean and usually goes right back out the way it came. So, anyone in the surge area gets not only hurricane-force winds, rain, lightning, and possibly tornadoes, they also get rushing, rising water that moves in and then back out. They, in a sense, get hit twice.
(Where I grew up, we didn’t have to worry about hurricanes. We worried about tornadoes, which still scare me to death. So, when my husband’s job moved us down toward the coast, I was relieved that we’d have days in which to prepare and get the heck outta Dodge before a storm hit.)
After Ike hit the coast and moved through Texas, the massive job began of helping friends and neighbors clean up. Our neighbors down in Galveston were hit hardest. In fact, while the Strand is back up and running, as well as the beach along the Sea Wall, there are still many, many people in need of help who don’t live in the tourist areas.
I, personally, was shocked to see the damage that occured in Galveston. We weren’t allowed to go down to help until about a week after Ike had hit. But, there was little done, yet, to clean up Galveston. The boats that were sitting in the middle of the Interstate were just pushed over to let traffic through.
But, mostly, the boats were just left where they landed after the storm moved out of the area.
…even if the boats settled on a building.
Some folks left messages for others who might be thinking about looting (look closely at the sign):
The surge came up about 4-6 feet into the houses in the area in which we were serving. That was very damaging, needless to say. But, what made things worse, the city of Galveston did not allow people back into their homes for many days following. That meant that anything that was wet sat there. Closed up in the houses. No electricity. And, it was hot and steamy. Which, of course, meant things began to mildew. And ruin. And grow black mold.
So, we donned our masks.
My friend, Brad, often knows how to lighten serious situations.
We found that our little band of misfits could get a lot done in a little time.
Above, they were removing all the sheetrock up to about 6 feet.
Basically, everything these neighbors owned was being thrown away, due to the water damage.
The lady who owned this house lost everything. It was sort of overwhelming to consider.
But, it was unbelievable, the spirit of these folks, whom we helped.
They were upbeat. And positive. And thankful, just to be alive.
Stuff could be and would be replaced. People could not.
Obviously, this process lasted longer than one day of cleaning and clearing out the houses. Folks from our church made multiple trips down. And each time, it felt great. It was hard, hard work, but so, so worth it. (Of course, the home owners continued to do FAR more work on their homes, once the cleaning and clearing process had ended.)
The reason I’m even revisiting this memory is Saturday, the 12th, marked the 1 year anniversary of Ike. Our church had planned a big celebration–a block party–to not just remember, but also to rejoice and celebrate with the families; they were all back in their homes.
Unfortunately, we had to postpone our celebration, ironically, due to weather. (Galveston had received 6 inches of rain the night before we were to go down there.)
When we have our celebration, though, I will definitely post “after” pictures for you.
I can’t wait to see how everything looks a year later.
I’m also grateful for the reminder every year on both 9/11 and 9/12, that I am blessed in so many ways.