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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Professor Iko Speaks and 'Armageddon At Your Doorstep'

Today begins a 3-part post on what happened when Hurricane Rita ripped us out of out of the 21st century and into the Middle Ages. But before we get to that, I want to direct you to a blog stop I'm making today with Jackie Burris at Housewife Blues and Chihuahua Stories.

This time my dog, Iko--er, make that Professor Iko is being interviewed on my behalf. That little monster has insisted on being called Professor ever since he graduated from doggie school. A little pretentious, don't you think, considering he was at one time a one-dog homewrecker and canis non grata. You can read more about Iko's nefarious life here.

About Jackie Burris: Jackie is a book blogger and a voracious reader who knows her books! I found her accidentally on Goodreads when I saw a picture of her precious little Chihuahua. Curiosity drew me in and that led me to start reading her reviews and recommendations.

I've always liked how she can tell you a lot about a book without giving away any spoilers. That's a real talent, especially if you're a book reviewer. I hope you'll put her blog on your reader or RSS feed. She's well worth following for all the latest reads. 

Pop over and visit. Iko loves the limelight!

The following article was to appear in a country magazine, but I pulled it when the publisher and I disagreed on fees. Copyrighted. Please do not reprint without permission. Part one of three.

"Armageddon At Your Doorstep" by Maria Zannini

We escaped Hurricane Rita in shifts. I left first, carrying three dogs and what few possessions I could stuff into the cramped space remaining in the Dodge Durango. Greg stayed behind by choice and duty since he was part of the hurricane emergency response team for his chemical plant.

At first, the whole thing seemed like a game, everyone going through the motions of stocking up on canned goods and batteries. Living on the Gulf Coast you get used to hurricane threats. Rita was going to be close but we didn’t know how close until it was almost upon us.

Early computer models estimated the storm would hit south of us, closer to Galveston and Houston. Greg would be safe. His chemical plant had a concrete bunker that could withstand most high impact storms as long as it wasn’t a direct hit.

Rita was a direct hit.  

Three days before the storm hit, there was an eerie quiet in the air. Birds were absent, most flying north. Insects were silent and hidden. Pets that were normally calm and obedient were now frightened or anxious. The storm was coming. They knew it better than we did.

I was already in Dallas, listening or watching the news every waking moment. On Thursday, I got the call. Greg’s plant had been given the order to bug out. Rita was coming right for them and it was coming in as a Category 5 hurricane.

People had evacuated by the thousands for days leading up to the hurricane. The exodus was so massive that many had been trapped inside their cars for up to twenty-four hours. Greg left on Thursday, September 22, just before midnight, a five-hour trip turning into sixteen hours in the car.

On Saturday, Rita made landfall, devastating Beaumont and Port Arthur.

A friend of ours who made the error of staying behind, called us with a shaky voice saying it was the most terrifying forty minutes of his life—this from a man who’d been in combat.   

The next morning, he tried to check on our house, but there was so much debris he couldn’t get any closer than the street. Three humongous trees swallowed our home under a canopy of limbs. We braced ourselves for the worst and prepared to make our way back.

Again, we traveled in shifts. Greg went first to assess the damage and let me know what else to bring. We’d been warned that if we returned we’d have to haul everything we needed to survive without utilities. There was no water, gas, or electricity, and absolutely no help for a sixty-mile radius. We were on our own. 

I didn’t realize then what true devastation looked like. I would soon find out.

Part 2 continues on Thursday, 5-12-11


Angelina Rain said...

Wow, great article. I’ve never lived through a hurricane but just the thought of it scares me. It must be very devastating. I can’t wait to read the rest of this article.

Now I’m off to read the Professor’s post.

Mike Keyton said...

Whenever I see survivors of disasters being interviewed on TV two thoughts come immediately to mind: How on earth do they pick themselves up again. And Thank God I live in Wales. Then a third thought, how can I help? Only somehow 'helping' in the traditional sense seems somehow easier when disaster strikes a truly poor country - which, as your article and scenes shown recently from Japan is a nonsense. When disaster strikes, all of us are poor. An interesting article, Maria. Good luck with the copy-right.

Abigail Sharpe said...

But I want more of the story now!!!

jackie b central texas said...

Maria by the luck of the Fae and the grace of God you two survived what was indeed a horrifying natural catastrophic event for Texas and everywhere else that Rita destroyed!
Thank goodness it was not worse for you and Greg and thank goodness you did not try to ride it out at the house!

I will be back tomorrow, have to hear more on the story and thanks for being my guest today and the wonderful glowing recommendation for my blog!

Maria Zannini said...

Angelina: If there is one good thing to be said about hurricanes, it's that you get plenty of notice. With tornadoes, not so much. And with earthquakes, not at all.


Ref: When disaster strikes, all of us are poor.

That is such a profound statement, Mike. And so true.

Japan, I think, had it far worse than most of the other natural disasters and that was because of the radiation exposure. It was like salt on a wound.

Maria Zannini said...

Abigail: LOL. It's coming.

Jackie: Thank you for letting me hang out at your place! Iko likes the dog cookies. :)

Ref: It's funny, once we saw what had happened, neither of us spoke. We just rolled up our sleeves and got to work.

Linda Leszczuk said...

You know how I am with being patient. I should have forced myself not to read any of this until all the parts were posted.

Loved Iko's interview.

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: I'll give you a hint. We all made it. LOL. But it was a heck of a ride.

Marianne Arkins said...

I'll give you a hint. We all made it.


Like the rest, I'm ready for all the story NOW.

Joanne said...

Terrible, just terrible, to know what's headed for your precious homes, and lives! I'll never understand how people don't heed the warnings when storms are approaching.

Stacy Gail said...

Wow. Living inland in the SA/Austin area, I had friends who opened their home to relatives who survived Katrina, then hosted friends who had to escape Rita. But stories like that was the only impact our area felt -- NOTHING like what your family went through. Wow again.

Misha said...

Great article! I can't imagine how it must feel to go through something like that.

Can't wait to read the next post. :-)

Suzanne Brandyn said...

I also cannot imagine being in a hurricane. I'm glad you and your family are safe. Off to read Part 2

Suzanne :)