Category Archives: hurricanes

Galveston’s Library

One of the places in Galveston that was badly flooded by Hurricane Ike was Rosenberg Library. It’s near downtown, where 10 to 12 feet of sea water came in from Galveston Bay, and all that water completely wiped out everything on the library’s first floor. Basically, the entire children’s library. This first picture is a view looking in from the door. The spiral staircase leads up to the adult section, and the children’s library is, I believe, off to the left, if the camera’s facing the direction I think it is. You see all the CDs in the right foreground? Mud and salt water isn’t good for CDs.

They lost the entire children’s collection. Not just books, but shelving and chairs and DVDs and CDs and finger puppets and everything. The wave action picked up everything that wasn’t fastened down–and some things that were (I think I see part of the front counter in this second picture.) and tossed them around. They do not even have shelves to put books on, so they can’t really accept donations of actual books. But if y’all have a few dollars to spare–even just $5–that would go a long way to getting Rosenberg Library to the point where they CAN get books (and other materials) back in the hands of the kids.

Right now, the children’s librarians are doing mobile storytimes. It’s a “You provide the place and kids, we’ll bring the stories and fun,” kind of thing where people can call and request a librarian with a story. Even with their facility in this kind of mess (and they are beginning to get the mess cleaned out–beginning to), they’re providing services.

Parts of Galveston, like my neighborhood, escaped with very little damage. Other parts–well, they look like these pictures. (You can see the layered mud on the floor in this last picture–a lot of the books and other materials were sunk in that stuff.) There are so many needs here, so many people that need help. This is the one that speaks to me. Books have made a difference in my life. Books need to be available to make a difference in the lives of the children of Galveston.

Y’all can visit Rosenberg Library on their website, where there is a donation button, or you can send a donation to Rosenberg Library, 2310 Sealy Ave., Galveston, TX 77550. (Any donation is tax-deductible.) Anything is appreciated.

Thanks, y’all.

Return to semi-Normalcy

So. I’m going to open with the good news.

I just got word. THE ETERNAL ROSE, the 3rd book in my One Rose trilogy, won the 2008 Prism Award for Best Fantasy. (THE BARBED ROSE (book 2) won the Prism in 2007, fyi.) Needless to say, I am totally chuffed. It was fabulous news to come in the wake of all the hurricane disruption.

The dead refrigerator is gone from our front curb. So are the branches off the “pine” in the back yard and the other branches. We didn’t have much in the way of trash, compared to so many folks. There are two huge, huge vacant lots–one off Broadway near the “entrance” to the island, and one off Seawall somewhere. (I drive by the one on Broadway on the way to work. Haven’t been by the one on Seawall.) Anyway, both of these lots are used as a collection spot for the trash and debris picked up by the city, before it’s taken off the island by two contractors. The trash is piled 10-15 feet high and covers almost the entire lot that I’ve seen. The other one is in similar state. They’re removing trash from the lots as fast as they can fill up the trucks and drive them off, but more keeps coming. And it doesn’t seem as if they’ve made a dent in the trash and debris piled outside the houses I drive past every day.

On the other hand, MY life is pretty much back to normal. Dolly the granddog is home. We finally have all our services back, including internet. The computer is doing strange things (like spontaneously shutting down/restarting every 10 to 20 minutes or so), and may have to go in to the shop, but we have hot showers! And drinkable water! And cable television. All the amenities.

I only had to drive across the causeway to work in the Texas City newspaper office for three days once I went back to work this week. The newsroom moved back to the island on Thursday. Now we only have to make the trip over the causeway to pick up mail. They’re delivering first class mail to houses on the island now, (which means no magazines, etc.) but the post offices, including the P.O. Boxes, won’t open … well, the downtown post office, where our box was, is “closed indefinitely.” However, picking up box mail at the temporary place is a lot easier than picking up residence mail. So we’ll probably keep doing that for a while, till they start delivering ALL the mail to houses.

The grocery stores are open. Target is open. The junior college and schools are back in session. I feel so utterly grateful that we came through this with so little damage and disruption. Especially when I see all around me people who are dealing with the loss of everything they own. Still, as so many of my friends have said, “It’s just stuff. Stuff can be replaced.”

And I still have a book to write. I have been slogging along this week. Four pages most days, though today, I only wrote one. I got my page proofs yesterday. These are the first proofs I’ve ever gotten that actually look like book pages. (Harlequin sends these really funky looking things…) So I wrote one page, and got to work on the proofs.

Because of the disruption on the island, the proofs got returned to Tor the first time they sent them, so my original deadline’s been extended, but I think I ought to be able to get them in the mail by that date, if not back to them. And I still want to write at least a half-page every day before I start working on the proofs. They’re pretty clean, so it shouldn’t be too tough.

Now, I just need to get back into an exercise routine. The beach is pretty much gone, near my house, and they’re trying to keep people on the island side of the seawall, anyway. The rocks are still littering the sidewalk, so it’s not really fit for bicycle riding. I’ll just have to head over and walk. The weather’s starting to cool down a little, so the walking will be pleasant. I’ve been a real slug while I’ve been evacuated…

Finally going home

The fella went down last Thursday–to avoid the 10-mile long backup of people trying to get to the island on Wednesday. No electricity. No gas. No drinkable water–but flushable toilets.

I went down on Saturday with my sister and niece, so they could pick up her car. It was a totally gorgeous day. The surf was almost non-existent. We got a mini-tour of the city–mostly just what was around our neighborhood. Then I got the fella to drop us off at the seawall just up from our house so we could let the niece walk down the jetty.

See all those rocks in the background? They’re at the bottom of the seawall, which is where we’re standing (on the top). They were covered up with sand before the storm. This is one of the few places along the seawall that still had sand, and it’s only there for about half the distance between jetties. I’ll see if I can get a couple more pictures onto my dad’s computer, so I can share them with you. Our visitors just stayed for a little while. Maybe an hour. Then they had to take their rescued, non-damaged car, and go back home. I stayed.

The weather was really nice. It was cool out on the seawall where the breeze was blowing, but it got hot walking back to the house. Still, it was cool enough that I could take a nap after our company left and didn’t get overheated at all. We waited a little late to cook supper that night. We were pushing it to get everything cooked on our grill before we lost the light. We dined by candlelight.

Sunday, we moved the refrigerator that belonged to the rent house out, because it was just totally gross. It was the only thing that had to go. Our own refrigerator grew a little bit of gunk, but this one… It dribbled gunky water when we had to tip it to get it out the front door, and made the whole house smell like dead fish. Had to wash it up with Clorox solution. That helped. A lot. We found out that even though our neighborhood only had a few houses with minimal damage, the city had told the power company that there was too much damage to turn the electricity on.

Just one street over, in houses that back up to the houses across the street from us, that is true. (See pictures.) But not in our street. So the fella (and at least one neighbor) called the power company up and told them the correct information. By 4 p.m., we had electricity. We’re still boiling the water to wash dishes and drinking the bottled stuff. The gas isn’t on, so we don’t have hot water. Fortunately, the cold water is closer to lukewarm (though with the cooler weather, it’s not as close as it is in August…) so cold showers aren’t that cold.

Let’s see, what else did I do on my island visit? Oh, we packed up stuff the son will need at college. They transferred the local campus students to the main university campus, and he managed to get into an apartment, so we needed to bring up more clothes, his computer cords and peripherals, and some linens. That went into my car.

Most of the damage on the island was due to the storm surge. The previous two pictures are of the neighborhood right next to ours. The water action took out a lot of brick and stone walls. Wind took out others. If just the top was knocked down, we figure it was wind. If the whole thing was down–water.

The tree lying on its side on the junior college campus is a pecan tree which didn’t get knocked over by the wind. It looked fine right after the storm. But the salt water that covered the campus killed the tree, and three weeks later, it just gave up and laid itself over. Looks maybe like the roots died, because not much of them came up when the tree lay down.

I took some pictures of the Strand district downtown, but I had the camera turned sideways, and I can’t find a program on Daddy’s computer that will turn them right side up and save them, and when I get home later this week, I won’t have internet access. I don’t think. All of the buildings downtown took on water. All of them have a lot of damaged contents. But I don’t think any of the buildings themselves were damaged structurally. They don’t look damaged. But I’m sure you know how much that’s worth from this non-expert.
This picture here is of the seawall at one of the seawall parks near 45th Street. I think this is the one with the 1900 Hurricane Memorial at the far end (off to the right) that was in so many of the “Live from Galveston” weather reports during Hurricane Ike.
Anyway, down below the park areas, a whole lot of rock and broken concrete and rubble was piled as…protection? Support? Not sure why it was piled up there. But the storm waves picked up a whole lot of it and deposited it on the seawall and street.
You can see three benches in the right foreground. Those are concrete benches. There were quite a few of them at these parks. The benches got floated around and totally rearranged during the storm. Handrails got ripped off the staircases going from the top of the seawall to the beach. Boats floated up onto the freeway. There’s one stuck on the walls in the median between the north and southbound sides. Damage everywhere. And yet, lots of places didn’t take much damage at all. (Like my house.)
I feel utterly blessed. I don’t know why my home and our belongings were spared, but I am so totally grateful. I’m grateful for friends and even acquaintances who have worried and wondered and for all the doors that have opened to take us all in. Even (or maybe especially) the evacuation kennel looking after Dolly the granddog.
I’m going home to stay probably tomorrow. Dolly should be home by Saturday. The boy has his new apartment put together. His class schedule still has two classes at one time, but hopefully he’ll get that worked out soon. (His classes meet only one time per week in marathon sessions because they’re having to squeeze them in wherever. One class meets at the Methodist church on campus.) The Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Kroger grocery store on the island are all open, as are a few gas stations. We’re still boiling water, but life is beginning to come back together. Thank God for all the blessings he’s given.

High and dry

I tried to post another blog the other day, but the electricity blinked out for a few seconds at the parents’ house, and I never did get back to it.

So. The word is Very Good about our house. We did not get any water inside, not even in the garage, that we could tell. So my baby sister’s car is fine. We can’t get it out, but it’s fine. See, we only have a key to the front door of this rent house. The front door is a double door that had to be barricaded against getting blown in by a 2×4 bolted down to the door frame. (The bolts are permanently installed.) So we can’t get in the front door. And with the power off, we can’t open the garage door. We now have a generator (imported from Kansas, because apparently you can’t buy a generator in Texas for love nor money), but haven’t been able to get across the causeway to do anything about it. One of the trees got a little torn up. There are some shingles missing from the ridgeline. That’s about it, for our house. But the island is in such bad shape, there’s no point in going down yet. (Besides the fact that they won’t let us come.)

The sister on the cruise–the cruise ship docked in New Orleans. They rented cars and drove to Austin to put the kids on a plane so they could go back to work.

Our church had essentially no damage. The only one on the island in that kind of shape, I am told. Friends who rode out the storm on their boat came through okay, though the boat was damaged. Another friend, who lives on the mainland where they said just to hunker down, had two big trees fall on their house and they had to evacuate their house in the middle of the night when the winds were blowing hard. But they’re okay and their pets are too.

They are going to start classes for A&M Galveston on the main A&M campus next week. I’ve got a temporary berth for the boy to stay, until he can find something else, or until they move back to Pelican Island. They’re talking about being back on their own campus by the end of October.

I’ve gone up to stay with the in-laws for a while. I like to see the fella face to face at least once a week. He did go down to check things out yesterday (which is where the house report came from), and Galveston College is in great shape too. The storm broke 5 plate glass windows. Two in a hallway, one in a faculty member’s office, and two in classrooms with little besides desks in them. Their buses didn’t even get messed up.

It’s going to cost a fortune to get everything put back together. Hopefully, not too much in terms of time.

I’m trying to get some writing done, and have actually been doing pretty good at that. Ten plus pages to the good this week.

Y’all take care.

Hurricane Ike

So, now we’re waiting to see whether Ike wants to come to Texas. He’s tracking our direction, so far. If he comes ashore at Corpus Christi or south, I might not have to leave, depending on how strong a storm he is at that point. If he comes ashore in Texas anywhere north of there, the fella’s probably going to make me leave town (again, depending on how big a storm it is–anything Category 3 or up, I’m gone). I’ll take the new car and my computer and all my manuscripts, and go stay with the parents. We’ll know by Wednesday morning.

Oh, and it’s my birthday today, but we didn’t do anything. I think I’m going to hold out for dinner at Gaido’s after Ike passes. Probably won’t get it, but I might get lucky. We’ll see.

Got 3 whole pages written today. It has been a really hard grind. But at least I got Something. Maybe tomorrow will be better. And maybe I can still get stuff written, even if I have to bug out. It’s really hard to write at Mom & Dad’s though, because Mama wants me to talk to her, and keeps forgetting if I tell her I need to work. (sigh)

And we have an extra car here. My sister in Idaho brought her family down to go on a cruise, and they borrowed the other sister’s car to drive over from Austin, and it’s now parked in our back yard. Four cars. Three drivers. If Ike does come, we don’t have enough people to get all the cars out of Dodge. (Sigh again.) We’re just hoping the storm surge is 17 feet or less. The seawall is 17 feet high, so it can handle that much surge. More, and we’re probably flooded.

Think south.