City of Brass

City of Brass


Yikes, Ike … Remembering Rita

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in the Gulf Coast region – especially my family there and all the friends I accumulated over the 9 years I spent living there before moving to Wisconsin in June 2007.

It looks like Ike is going to hit Houston and Galveston hard:

Ike_091208.gifI pray that this storm has as little effect as Hurricane Rita did. I
still vividly remember the nightmare of our Hurricane Rita experience,
and that was just the evacuation and city-wide shortages of gasoline,
milk, eggs, etc for weeks afterwards. There wasn’t even any monster
rainfall with Rita, though she was a Category 5. A few years earlier,
though, Tropical Storm Allison turned Houston into a gigantic bayou,
causing billions of dollars to infrastructure and buildings, and
irreplaceable loss of research and data at the Medical Center.
Hurricane Ike is more analogous to Allison than to Rita – the primary
concern is a storm surge of 20 feet in the Galveston lowlands, and then
area-wide severe flooding throughout Harris county. Unlike Rita, Ike
hasn’t been deflected at the last minute, and given Ike’s far greater
extent (500 miles wide!) even if Ike were to be deflected by the hand
of God now, Houston would still get hit.

I had actually blogged the whole ordeal of Hurricane Rita (whenever access permitted) back in 2005 when we were evacuating and dealing with the post-Rita mess. I had chronicled the events as follows:

Rita’s comin’ to Texas, folks
(Sep 19, 2005). I was one of the very first Texas bloggers to declare
that Rita had our number. That post was updated numerous times over the
next couple of days as the reality began to sink into the wider media.

Batten down the hatches
(sep 21, 2005). I started planning our escape route. At that point in
time it wasn’t clear whether my wife, a resident at UTMB Galveston,
would have to stay on duty or not.

update
(Sep 22, 2005). A grueling 9-hour drive to go 60 miles. We were part of
the largest evacuation in US history, the great mother deity of all
traffic jams. A nightmare of overheating brakes and low gas and
frustrating cell-phone outages and endless mile after mile of highway,
one foot at a time.

contraflow
(Sep 23, 2005). Having escaped Galveston county, but still in northwest
Harris, we were deciding whether or not to try and make it to san
antonio or not. We ultimately decided to stay in Katy rather than take
our chances on the highway and repeat our experience of the previous
day.

shelter in place (same day, 23rd). The evening of landfall. We went to our community masjid for shelter, anticipating the worst.

the power is ours
(late that evening, 23rd). A report from the masjid, waiting out the
storm. It became pretty clear that evening that Rita wouldn’t pose the
threat we all feared – thanks to the divine providence of a sudden
change in Rita’s course.

Houston makes it through (Sep 24, 2005). A guest post from my friend Taha. We made it safe and sound and Taha expresses the thanks we all felt.

sitting dry
(that same day, 24th). We did lose power but only for about 10 hours.
We returned to my inlaws’ place in Katy and now begin the waiting for
normalcy.

Aggie joke (Sep 26th 2005). Some welcome humor at Texas A&M alumni expense.

Houston reawakens
(same day, 26th). The city comes back to life, though finding eggs and
milk was pretty hard. We were glued to the radio listening for when the
local WalMart would reopen!

home (Sep 27, 2005). Made it back to my house in Galveston, where apart from a few shingles, everything was ok.

My
posts didn’t get into a lot of detail about the preparations we made to
leave our home, the work involved in getting it all back together
again, etc. Overall it was a grueling and insane week, one I’d never
want to repeat. We were truly blessed to have escaped with as little damage and injury, and as much sanity intact, as we did. I pray sincerely that the good people of the Gulf Coast fare as well now as we did then. In this month of holy Ramadan, may our prayers be amplified accordingly for their sake.

UPDATE: Ubu has been hurricane-blogging extensively at Houblog. He’s way better prepared for this than 99% of the rest of the Houston metro.



  • Taha Raja

    Aziz, thanks for your prayers and Dua. I came into my warehouse early morning today. Doing a final backup of my critical data and shutting down the servers for the HUrricane. It is completely dead here and kind of eerie! Reminds you of the movie Legend!
    Going to go home and hunker down. Maybe go to Masjid if weather permits. I think we will be OK. Thanks again and please continue to remember us in your prayers.

  • Zack

    Aziz your blog posts here don’t show up in your Feedburner feed and there doesn’t seem to be any feed associated here.

  • carla

    I am praying all my extended family,in laws and my sons family will be ok, I saw the flooding in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes in South Louisiana. I cried as I saw the damage remembering my home and area as I recall Hurricane Andrew in those same places. God Bless all of you.

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