It’s been almost a month since Ike surged ashore. How different that Saturday morning was, a few weeks ago, watching daylight break and stepping out to surmise the damage and destruction, catching that last feeder band of heavy rain that added insult to injury for so many.
A lot of conversations these days start “So, how’d you do?” It’s a measure of the scale of this event that no other explanation is required. I’ve heard responses that have run the gamut, witha few too many “We lost everything, but we’re safe so we’re OK.”
I rode out Ike in my League City home with my family. I took the adage to heart: run from the water, hide from the wind. I boarded my windows, stocked in supplies, and spent a long night watching Ike roar and wondering when the worst would be over. I was lucky—no damage worth mentioning, everyone was safe, a few days without power and a few fewer trees.
I watched the footage of Galveston on the news like the rest of the country, but as shocking as they were, the newscasts didn’t do the actually wreckage justice. You can’t pack that much hurt and devastation onto any widescreen. In the early days that followed Ike, I had a chance to go down three times, once to help friends who lost a home and business, once to help a former west end neighbor, and once to salvage what I could from my flooded office (first floor of Rebecca Sealy Hospital, near west doors).
As dramatic as the images of the Seawall were, to get a real sense of how disruptive and destructive the storm was, you had to drive through the neighborhoods, see the mountains of wet funk lining every curb that represented people’s lives, watch the empty and sad expressions on friends and neighbor’s faces as they got about the task of dumping out the lives they knew.
And yet, even in the uncertainty, there was a current of hope, a positive vibe as palpable as the funk of mold and floodwater. Each time I went out, it was significantly better. I was stunned by the amount of progress, and how quickly it was getting done. What would normally take weeks or months was taking hours or days, and the sense of resolve and commitment played out in every new pizza joint, grocery store or traffic signal that returned to service.
Events like this bring out the worst in some people, but they bring out the best in many more. The generosity, concern, self-sacrifice and sense of community I saw exhibited on the island gave me a huge shot of confidence for our collective future. I’m sure that same spirit played out in other areas hard hit. Ike, too, will pass. In life post-Ike, some things will be better, and some things we’ll miss, but we’ll go on.