Sunday, May 13, 2012
After the Storm
Down here on the Texas coast, we have hot, dry, windy weather most of the time. Our winters are mild and pleasant, but August and September can be brutally hot, especially when we are in a drought, which we have been in for the last couple of years. Generally, the only violent weather we deal with are tropical storms and hurricanes which develop from time to time. Every summer and autumn, all eyes are on the tropics as we watch every tropical weather system that develops. We've been lucky for a lot of years, we haven't had a major storm make a direct hit on Corpus Christi since 1970.
I was 16 years old when Hurricane Celia devastated my hometown. I have never voluntarily chosen to "ride out" a storm since that day. My parents lived about a mile and a half from the bayfront in a wood frame house when they decided to "ride it out." We spend about five hours huddled in the hallway of our house mostly on our knees, praying to be spared. It was the most horrible weather I have ever experienced. It was followed by 21 days with no electricity. No electricity in August in Corpus Christi is not a good thing. It was miserable.
Last Thursday evening a line of thunderstorms moved through South Texas. It was the closest thing to Hurricane Celia that I have ever experienced. The storm had straight-line sustained winds of at least 60 miles per hour and gusts around 75. The national weather service has now confirmed that there were 5-6 tornadoes as part of that system. One of those tornadoes went right through our neighborhood.
The storm started around 9:30 p.m. with rain and wind. By 10 o'clock water was coming into the living room under the back door and into our master bedroom through the weep holes. The rain was blowing almost completely horizontally. We could hear hail hitting both the patio and the storm blinds. We have hurricane blinds on all our windows and as soon as we realized how bad the storm was, we closed them down tight. At 10:30 we lost power as the storm raged outside. I had already lit candles and we had found our flashlights and had them ready. By midnight the storm had calmed a little and we decided to go to bed. About 15 minutes later the electricity came back on and we had to get up and cut off the lights. Before we got them all off, the power went out again and was not to come back on that night.
We got up early on Friday. I had to be at work at 7:15 so there wasn't really much time to do more than assess the situation. There were mostly small limbs down all over the yard. By the time I got home from work on Friday at 3:30 p.m. our neighbors had cleaned up our yard and the electricity was back on.
We were very lucky! We have very little damage. Since we were at home, we were able to mop up the water as soon as it came in so there was no water damage. Our back fence was blown over, but only the posts were broken. Grandad and our neighbor are replacing them right now. We also lost a good part of our huge, 30 year old oak tree in the front yard. It was a house-warming gift from Grandad's parents when we moved into our house. The limbs at the top of the tree were snapped and blown back into the tree canopy. They did not fall on the house or the car or anything else. They remain in the tree, supported by other limbs. We have some tree specialists coming out tomorrow to look at what needs to be done and give us a bid. We expect to have that cleaned up by the end of the week. Some of my herbs were uprooted and we think we may have some loose shingles on the roof. We'll be having it inspected. But, all-in-all we were extremely lucky to have very little damage.
Almost every house in the neighborhood has major tree damage and almost everyone in the area lost part or all of their fences. There are a few houses with broken windows and trees that fell on roofs or vehicles. We drove around on Friday evening so I could snap some photos to share with you.
These are a few shots of our tree. The part that shades my swing in the front yard is completely gone before the tree is even trimmed.
The entire neighborhood is now lined with stacks and stacks of debris. It will take weeks (at least) for the city to pick it all up.
But let me say it again, we were very lucky. It could have been so much worse.