HURRICANE IKE

By September 24, 2008News & Press

Due to Hurricane Ike, the Houston District Office will remain closed indefinitely due to water damage from Hurricane IKE.

This includes the site for Naturalization and Info Pass Appointments-126 North Point Drive

and the place for Permanent Residency Interviews: 16504 Central Green Boulevard

Only two fingerprinting sites: the one on 290 and the one on Bissonnet

The one on I-45 South remains closed.

All Natz and Permanent Residency interviews will be rescheduled. Individuals having infopass appointments need to reschedule on the internet.

The tentative date for opening the office is Monday, September 29.

Below is my experience with IKE:

Everybody worked half day on Thursday Sept 11, 2008. We were told on Wednesday that the hurricane was coming at us. I filled up my gas, and went to Sam’s Club to buy canned tuna, peaches, and water. Not a whole lot of people were hurricane shopping.

Thursday everybody was frantic. Should they leave town, should they board up? Although it was sunny and about 92 degrees outside, the human emotional pressure was very strong. I closed down at 2 p.m., simply because I could not concentrate, and took some work home. I stopped at our local grocery store on the way back. It was lucky that I did. I got one of the last loafs of bread. Everything was gone. At least 5-6 people were buying water and beer, the essentials of survival in Texas.

Friday was a great day, but Houston looked like deserted town. Everything was closed, including Wal-Mart. I swam for what probably would be the last time for this season. We made hurricane preparations, laundry, dishwasher, cleared the outside for anything that could become a flying missile. We filled out the bathtubs for water if necessary.

At about 9:30 p.m. the winds started kicking up. I went outside, but aside from the strong wind, everything was in order. By 10 p.m. the cable went out, and by 10:30 the electricity. I went off to sleep.

I got up at what was probably 1;30 am or thereafter. The wind was howling outside. I opened the back door. There was a strange light outside. It was pea green, a mixture of green and yellow. It looked like dusk, I could see everything. It was strange. It was quiet, but intense, it felt like being inside a pea soup. There was fierce wind, but hardly any rain. There was a thin mist. It was probably the eye. I went back to sleep.

When I got up next, probably about 3 or 4 am, (I cannot be exact about the times, my electric clock was not working, and my watch was on my dresser), it was pitch black. It was raining horizontal, and there was thunder and lightning.

I got up to the sound of my cell phone ringing at 8:30 or 9 am. The back yard was flooded. Our street, which never floods, had water up to the curb. No electricity. Our pool lining was down. Some shingles from our roof were down. One medium branch from the oak tree in the back was down. The whole yard was littered with leaves and twigs. Some water came in through a water socket in one master bathroom sink.

The house in front of us had their whole big oak tree on the ground, obstructing half the road.

I went to the freezer and took out the fish and scallops. Our stove, with gas worked. I cooked the fish for lunch and scallops for supper. We really had good food that day.

In the evening we went for a walk on Tanglewood Boulevard. It looked like a hurricane had blown thorough. OK, I really cannot find another simile, because it is not like a war. There was no damage to any structure, no broken windows. But the trees took the hit. They were down everywhere. Some of the traffic lights were bent. It was kind of cool to look at the underside of the big oak trees.

On Saturday night it started raining again. The streets were flooded, but not much at least in out locale.

We got back electricity at my office in Sugar land on Sunday. We got our cable and hence internet and phone connection on July 20th. But our house was another matter.

At first we had fun kind of camping. We went to a friend’s block party in West U. The devastation there seemed more. Big trees littered their narrower streets. We came back to a dark house in the evening. In the morning we cleaned trees, worked in our yard, and walked around. In the evening, we sat in the dark, listened to the radio and went to bed early. George Bush’s neighborhood, two blocks from mine, had electricity on that same Saturday night, even though they had at least one bent electric pole. That was Sept 13. We would not get our electricity until Sept 24.

The novelty soon wore away as the weather grew hotter, and the mosquitoes invaded from the open window. Additionally the street lights were a mess. The lights in all the big intersection were out, though the small ones were up and running. Traffic jams in Houston shamed those in LA, for the first time. It took me more than an hour to reach my home from work, when it normally takes 20 minutes.

Centerpoint Energy first inspected my neighborhood on Tuesday Sept 23, 11 days after IKE hit. There were only minor fuses out. They finished the work in hours. But we had to wait all this time, in the heat, in the dark. People are still waiting, while Centerpoint gets to play God.