I don't have to tell you that Houston has been through a major hurricane within the last week. I don't even have to tell you that it's a scary thing, but I do want to give some insight into the situation.
You'll notice that this happened less than a week and it has literally dropped out of the national news. Not that I think that it should still be in the news, but seriously... lets all remember back to Katrina and how long we heard stories about that.
Now, I have a lot of respect for most of the state of Louisiana - but unfortunately during that time some of their worst citizens were seen all over the national news media doing things that were just unimaginable in most cases. They did go through some major trauma in the city of New Orleans, but lets face it folks - the people in the other main areas of destruction got overlooked because they went on with their lives and worked to get their cities back to normal.
I have to admit that even through the wake of that hurricane tragedy - I was unable to understand what those people had seen and experienced. Just like with the storms that go through all other areas of our country and neighbors - I just never understood what that experience was like.
Sort of like a blizzard or earthquake - I've never truly experienced it at a time that I remember. Now, I did live through Hurricane Alicia in Houston... and that was the storm by which all others were compared to in our area of the country - but I was 3 1/2 years old. So lets just say the only thing I remember was that I thought it was strange for my parents to open the windows of our house during a "rain storm".
I now understand that they were trying to prevent the pressure of the storm from shattering our windows, but did I remember the experience on a level where I knew what to expect from Ike - not one bit.
I think that the people of our area had been through so many false alarms with hurricanes in the last 3-4 years that we all had a little bit of a jaded approach to the preparations. I know I did - we've been warned so many times that a storm was coming "straight for us" only to watch it turn away at the last minute. So I've never really taken precautions like are advised... that being said - I did rush out for a few items the day before the storm hit, but it was too late at that point to truly have a plan.
As the storm drew closer and closer - we watched the news and saw the pre-storm coastal flooding and knew that this wasn't going to be a false alarm... and with each hour my anxiety got more and more intense. (I hopefully hid it a little from those around me... but probably not.)
When the wind picked up and the whistling/howling started - things got very real. We were sitting in our living room for what seemed like days... it was only about 6 hours or so... in the complete dark, and all you could do was watch transformers blow and pop in the distance providing a blue glow to the skyline for a second. Other than that - you were forced to listen to the power and sounds of the storm. Those sounds are almost indescribable - it literally sounds like a freight train is running over your house!
If there had been a train whistle - I would have sworn that was actually what was happening. In the end - all you can do is sit there and pray. We prayed (silently) for safety, for our house to be intact when it was all over, for our families, our friends, and our city in general.
In the aftermath, we realized that we hadn't suffered any major damage - but that didn't exclude us from power outages within our family and friends... or other minor storm displacements like no grocery stores or gas to help us get back to complete normal. (Not that any of us will ever be exactly as we were before.)
The thing that comes to my mind the most right now though is pride for how things are being handled by our citizens. Yes, we have some of the same disgraceful citizens that other cities do - and naturally they're the ones shown/talked about on the media... but the majority have so much to be proud of in the wake of a major natural disaster.
I feel confident that these types of stories were going on in the wake of Katrina and other major storms in areas like Florida... but the media didn't put them out there for the rest of us. I don't know what the rest of the country and world are seeing about our recovery from Ike, but remember to take it with a grain of salt - because for some reason the major news media in our country doesn't think that anything is news worthy if it's a positive story. Only the negative can be shown... and if they can't get it naturally - they will invent it.
There are two news reporters (probably more - but I only know of the two from ABC 13) in our area that I'd love to choke because of the way that they have attacked everyone they can to force a story. They desperately want to play the blame game on why they couldn't get to certain areas of destruction right away... they want to blame someone in government because the FEMA points of distribution were running 3 hours behind... and I just would love to shake them and tell them that people are doing the best they can in a bad situation - LAY OFF! (ok, end media rant)
I've seen stories, and watched with my own eyes within my work environment - of people stepping up to help. People also got out there as soon as the wind died down to start cleaning up around their own homes... neighbor helping neighbor... just to clean as much debris up as possible to help get the utility workers a path to get about restoring power.
People in the most heavily destroyed areas aren't whining about what has happened to them - they just want to get on with rebuilding their lives, and I feel confident that once some basic structures of water and power are restored to their areas - they will be allowed to do just that.
Sure, at times things are frustrating during this process - but over all we have weathered the storm very well.
The fundamental difference for me now though is that my life is forever changed... I will never see a story about a hurricane coming ashore and not feel something profound for the people going through that storm. I now know what it's like, and will remember that for the rest of my life.