September 19, 2008
This last Wednesday, Peter Bradrick, my brother Justice, and I were commissioned by my dad to take some supplies to Houston for the families struggling after Hurricane Ike.
After our 6:30 am fencing class, we loaded a trailer with twenty eight 75 and 100 qt iceboxes, planning to pick up ice, generators, and gasoline closer to Houston. There were very few gas cans in San Antonio, so Peter had Justice and me make some calls to different hardware stores on the outskirts of town. On our way out of town, we saw a John Deere hardware store, so Justice and I ran in, and providentially, they had the last seven five-gallon gas cans we had seen anywhere. We loaded them up, and headed off again.
Ice was another tricky thing to find, and after calling around, we finally found a party ice supplier which wasn't too far from where we were. We bought enough to fill all 28 ice boxes. We started out again for Houston. Halfway there, we stopped at a generator supply distribution center which had previously told us they could sell us ten generators. When we arrived, though, they had changed their minds, and didn't want to sell us more than two or three. Peter talked to the manager, and about forty five minutes later, had convinced them to sell us five heavy duty generators. We already had one, so that totalled six.
Tying down the ice boxes.
We felt like we were finally on our way now. Next stop was at a gas station closer to Houston, so safer to transport 45 gallons of gasoline in the back of a trailer. Finally, we stopped at a local HEB and bought 20 half gallons of milk.
We arrived at Dr. Voddie Baucham's house at about 6:30 and began unloading the supplies which would be distributed by Grace Family Baptist Church. After unloading for about an hour, we headed towards Galveston to survey the damage and take some photos for potential future missions. We hadn't seen a great deal of damage when we first arrived on the north side of Houston. We saw some trees down, some billboards that had the signs torn off, but other than that, it didn't look very bad.
It was getting dark as we drove through Houston, and then we noticed the problem. It wasn't that houses had been smashed, but the real problem was the lack of electricity. One block would be lit up, probably by generators, but the next would be completely dark. We stopped at a gas station for some gatorade and snacks and were amazed at how crowded it was. It was packed. We realized then that stoplights weren't working, bathrooms weren't working- everyone who didn't have a generator was in trouble. The contrast between the light of day and the predicament of being without electricity (particularly stoplights) as dark fell was accentuated by the nervousness of the people at the gas station.
As we neared Galveston Island, the visible damage increased. Crossing the bridge, we really could see the wreckage: boats lying on their side on the road, debris everywhere. It was a mess. About halfway across the bridge, we saw glaring lights and what looked like a construction zone, but it was actually police. I thought they might ask us to stop, but one officer wearing a big cowboy hat motioned us on.
Boats were leaning against telephone poles on the road.
Once we were on the island, it was really strange. It was like being in an episode of The Twilight Zone. We were in a deserted town, void of light and life. I think we only saw two people the whole time we were there. Boats were wrecked in front yards. Front porches were on the beach. Buildings were missing walls. Roofs were on the streets. We could see where the water had been, and, though it had receded, the damage was clear.
Junk was everywhere.
After an hour and a half, a police officer alerted us of the curfew from 6 pm to 6 am, and asked us to find a spot to camp for the night or leave the island. We decided to leave. Crossing the bridge again, we saw the lights and cops from another vantage point and realized we had probably been mistaken for an official vehicle and let on the island after curfew hours. We were so thankful for the opportunity to see the damage and take a few pictures.
We finally got home at 2:30 am, and after a 21 hour day, were more than happy to get some sleep.