Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hurricane Alicia, 1983

Alicia was the second hurricane I experienced. I was 15 years old in August of 1983. I was about to start my junior year in High School. I had many friends and a boyfriend. I was just your typical teenager.

We lived in Crosby, Texas at the time. Crosby at the time had less than 11 thousand people and was still very much suburbia. We learned that Hurricane Alicia had become a Cat 3 storm right after my dad’s birthday.

I remember preparing for the storm. As a teenager any task is a chore and there are always better things to do than helping your parents. Again we filled all the tubs with water. For those who are not familiar with hurricanes the water lines are not always drinkable after a storm. Also if the power goes out you can fill the tank and still be able to flush the toilet. With a family of 4 you don’t want to NOT be able to flush toilets without power. It’d be easier to bulldoze the house than to fumigate that mess!

We also started getting every plastic container and filling them with ice and putting them in the freezer. Times had changed and we had an ice maker by that time. During a storm if the power goes out it can be ages before ice is available so you make your own to last until then.

At the time we had a detached garage and we put everything that went outside inside the garage. We had to move a lot of stuff around since my family accumulated tons of stuff as all families do.

I begged my dad to let me bring my German Shepard dog inside. He refused but said she could stay in the garage during the storm. He tried to reassure me by saying most dogs cower under cars during storms. I fought with him about it but finally relented in the end.

We cooked what we could and packed ice on what we couldn’t in the freezer in the garage.

We then got out all of the flashlights and checking all of them and changing the dead batteries out for good ones. We had canned goods for 10 days. Everyone who has been through a storm before knows that supplies (flashlights, batteries, canned goods, water, etc) are gone the minute they announce a hurricane or tropical storm warning. My dad made sure we kept these supplies on hand year round. When hurricane season ends late November my dad would restock all the supplies then.

I remember the storm coming in slowly and lasting for what seemed forever. I also remember watching my dad watching the sway of the pine trees in our backyard and hoping that none of them would come crashing down on our house. Pine trees are resilient to Mother Nature as long as they are green. The sap allows the trees to bend with the wind.

My allergies got bad so I took some allergy medicine around midnight and got sleepy. I curled up with a favorite blanket and slept through the screaming wind and rain. I woke up the next morning and was disappointed when my dad told me I missed the whole thing. I was teased for years as being able to sleep through a major hurricane.

I couldn’t believe what I saw when I woke up. There were branches everywhere and it was raining very hard. There was no power. The branches started to clog the storm drains and the streets began to flood. My dad and I swam out to start unclogging the drain before it got high enough to flood our house (we lived on a small hill). When I saw large piles of ants clinging to each other my dad sent me back in the house. I’m allergic to ant bites and a trip to the hospital 25 miles away would have been impossible.

Our phone was not cordless and still worked. My family in Louisiana called all day to see how we fared during the storm. My dad tried to pull the BBQ pit out of the garage and was mad when he found that my dog had tried to chew through the door to escape the garage. So much for his plans of her cowering!

My dad started calling his friends and learned that a friend in Baytown had his house flooded. He was going to leave the motel his family was staying with as soon as it was safe and return to his family in Louisiana. From another friend he learned that Downtown had lots of broken windows. There was also an article in the paper about it and Galveston area having flooding issues. Even if we didn’t have power the paper was still being delivered!

I remember not having power for 10 days. My best friend and boyfriend living further out and did not have power for 14 days. As soon as the power came on they both came to my house for showers and hot food. Boy did my dad get mad having to feed kids that weren’t his!

I’ll never forget Hurricane Alicia. I never got to experience another hurricane like it until Ike came along!

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